Why Fireworks and Pets Don’t Mix

Monday, June 30, 2014 - 2:15pm
Scared dog hiding under a blanket

Who doesn’t love the Fourth of July? It’s a weekend for block parties, barbeques, belly-flops in the pool and parades—all best when enjoyed with friends and family, and even better when you have the day off to celebrate with your pets! Have fun, but remember that certain traditional Independence Day activities might not be so fun, or so healthy, for the four-legged members of your household: yes, we’re talking about fireworks.

Fireworks are loud, and the crowds that go to see them can be scary, too. Animal shelters nationwide are flooded with runaway pets on the Fourth; studies show that nearly one in five lost pets went missing because they were fleeing the sound of fireworks or other loud noises. Losing a pet is not only heartbreaking, it’s also very dangerous for the animal, especially if he or she ends up roaming busy streets.

The best way to keep your pets safe is to make sure they don’t go missing in the first place: Please resist the urge to take your pets to go see fireworks. Instead, keep them safe from the noise in a quiet, sheltered and escape-proof area at home. Double check leashes and collars and make sure your pet’s ID tag is up to date. Be mindful when opening outside doors. And if the unthinkable does happen, the ASPCA’s new app is here to help: Utilizing the latest field research, this free tool provides users with an individual search plan based on their pet’s behavior and individual circumstances so they can search quickly and effectively to recover their lost pet.  

Please read the rest of our advice for a safe and festive Fourth!

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Gomez (younger cat) is very curious and sits on our porch, stays real close, eyes wide open while we look out at them exploding at the park nearby (we have no choice -they go off about a mile away). Curlin (older cat) hides. I think as long as we are calm and keep the windows generally closed up with the shades drawn we can manage the fear of the noise. The vacuum cleaner (Mechagodzilla) is still scarier I think to them.

Lori Cotter

My cat, Sam, heads for his 'hideout' under the bed. Actually, I can tell about 20 minutes ahead of a coming storm just by his behavior - he drops to belly level and 'slinks' to the bedroom. Once in a while I can catch him ahead of time and convince him to stay out here with me, but not often.

He's not interested in the out-of-doors, so that's one good thing about the whole deal. There are some neighbor kids who do the fireworks thing at every opportunity and it really scares Sam. There's no warning ahead for that noise so there's not much I can do for him. I can't wait for them to grow up and move away!


I got my Spoiled Boston Terrier Peanut a Thunder Shirt at the vets. She is scared of storms and lawn mowers. So try a Thunder Shirt they work.


I am so glad I read this because I was going to take my son's 10 month old bulldog mix to see the fireworks tonight as a socializing opportunity. (He loves to people watch) but after reading about how upset dogs/cats can get, I have decided we will just stay home where things are predictable and safe. We will socialize some other time when there is less noise.


We have a 6 yr old Westie. He gets terribly frightened when their is storms but fireworks are worse. We put him in the chair with one of us or he will hide under the bed as that is his safety zone. He is our baby.


The only thing that helped my dog who got more terrified as he grew older was to turn on the air conditioner and TV to help block out some of the noise and close the bedroom door. Make a small den and cover it with a blanket so he could hide until the noise stopped. No amount of comforting helped him to not be afraid.


Meghan, Why don't you tell your idiot neighbors to knock it off, and if they don't, then call the police. That's what works for me with my idiot neighbors.


This has worked great for my last dog and my current dog – when they were puppies, whenever there was thunder or fireworks, we’d head straight outside and play and have lots of fun... I live in the Southwest where there are lots of opportunities to play in thunder without actually getting rained on, but I suppose you could play indoors too. This works for puppies who look to you up to you for guidance in unusual situations. I’d also say NEVER to give any kind of positive reinforcement for scared or fearful behavior – no petting, soothing, ect – you’ll just make it way worse.