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Published: Jun 22, 2012

For many humans, 4th of July is one of the best holidays of the year. With the barbecues, fireworks and other get-togethers we have to celebrate Independence Day, many may assume the holiday is fun for dogs, too. While this day off is a great time to hang out with your canine companion, there are certain activities that are better suited for dogs than others.

If you are spending the day outside, it might be a great chance to bring your dog to socialize and play. However, beware of certain items that might pose a threat to canines. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals reports that owners must be careful to keep alcoholic drinks, matches, lighter fluid, insect repellent and other bug repellent products like citronella candles out of reach of their dogs. If these items are ingested, they could result in dog emergencies and turn a festive celebration into a trip to the animal hospital.

While backyard barbecues or beach trips might be well-suited 4th of July activities for dogs, loud, crowded fireworks displays are not fun for animals. Even the most well-behaved and sociable dog will likely be happier at home during these events, which can be frightening for animals. The ASPCA recommends locking canines in a quiet, sheltered space at home to reduce any anxiety or fear.

It is also important that this space be escape-proof. According to, the 4th of July is the busiest time of year at shelters as they take in family dogs that escaped from yards or homes out of fear and panic during fireworks.  VCA Animal Hospitals recommends making sure your dog has microchip identification and is wearing tags with up-to-date contact information in the event your dog is lost during any holiday outing.

If your dog has severe anxiety about thunder or other loud noises, it is safe to assume fireworks will be an unpleasant experience.  Talk to your veterinarian about certain pet medications you can give your dog to make the evening less stressful. It might be a good idea to schedule a visit to the vet well in advance of the holiday, since vets say that July 3 is one of the busiest days in their offices as owners flock to pick up anxiety medications for their dogs. It can also help to exercise the canine earlier in the day to promote calmness later on.