How to keep pets safe and sane during fireworks on the Fourth of July. Plus, at the end of the tips, watch a Stephen Colbert video of a dog explaining why pets freak out over fireworks.

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The noise and chaos that comes with the Fourth of July or any holiday can be stressful and even dangerous for some pets. Here are a few tips to help ensure your pets have a safe and calm holiday.

• Take pets out early to relieve themselves.

• Long walks and playtime or an extra outing may help some pets be more relaxed later.

• Make sure your pets are licensed and have an ID tag or microchip. An ID tag or microchip can increase the chances of a runaway pet being returned to owners.

• Keep pets away from fireworks. When fireworks are being set off, have pets stay at home and indoors in a secure, quiet room.

• Provide toys, pet beds or crates, food and water in the quiet room. Some pet owners play soft music at a low volume.

• After the celebration, be aware of firework debris and other trash that may be left behind in parks, streets and lots. The products may be toxic.

• Keep food and wrappers out of reach. Bones can easily splinter and can cause fatal injuries. Rich and fatty foods like dressing and pie can cause painful and serious health problems.

• Keep decorations out of reach. Climbing cats and dogs with wagging tails and curious noses can knock over candles and other decorations. Some pets might also chew on decorations that look or sound like toys.

• If you dress up your pet for the holiday, do it for just a short time and take a photo. The longer a pet is in costume, the more likely it can become stressed or injured in the outfit. Make sure the costume doesn’t restrict breathing, vision, hearing or movement.

• Do not leave your pet in a car. Even in the shade, the temperature inside a car can quickly rise to 120 degrees. Animals left in a hot car, even for just a few minutes, can suffer heat stroke, brain damage or death.

• Have pet-appropriate treats on hand. If needed, reduce the amount of the pet’s regular meal to accommodate the treats.

Lost and found

Most animal shelters will be closed to the public for the holiday. If you find a lost pet on the holiday, try to care for it until a shelter opens.

If there is a life-threatening situation involving both a human and animal, call 911.

If you’ve lost a pet, here are some tips and resources:

Make fliers with a color photograph of the pet and your contact information. Ask stores, veterinarian offices, cafes and other businesses if you can post the fliers. Also handout fliers to neighbors or in the area where the pet was last seen.

Call and visit animals shelters. Also check their websites. Be prepared to make several visits. For a list of area animal shelters, see the Regional Animal Services of King County (RASKC) website.

Try social media and neighborhood websites. Posts on Facebook, Twitter, Nextdoor, West Seattle Blog, Seattle DogSpot and others have helped reconnect owners with lost pets.

Information from Seattle Animal Shelter, Regional Animal Services of King County, Seattle Humane and The Seattle Times archives.


Stephen Colbert, host of “The Late Show,” had a dog in 2017 explain why pets freak out over fireworks: