How Fireworks Traumatizes Fur Kids & Wildlife

The 4th of July lands on a Thursday in 2024, which means longer than usual Holiday weekends for most workers… and more time for your pets to be scared witless by your neighborhood fireworks “experts” to create unexpected loud booms and scary lights for days on end.

Seriously, we’re not trying to be difficult, buzzkills, or neighborhood narcs. However, having a backyard fireworks extravaganza impacts not only every baby, young child, senior citizen, and unsuspecting sleeper in the area… it also traumatizes pets and wildlife for miles around ground zero for the amateur fireworks aficionado. It is so bad for animals in the wild, in fact, that birds abandon their nests, young, and natural habitats all together. The lights in the sky and unexpected loud noises drive forest creatures into “fight or flight” mode, out of their normal environments and into the roadways where they become a hazard to drivers.

The impacts on household pets can be just as devastating. It is estimated that more than 50% of all dogs, and even more cats, are afraid of the noise fireworks create. Indoor pets can become so frightened and confused by the loud and repeated explosions that they will attempt to escape their homes. It’s not uncommon to see pets attempting to break windows, tear through screen doors, look for opportunity to run when a door is opened as someone comes in or out of the house. Once outside of the home, they run away from the noise and end up missing. A small dog can easily become prey for a wild animal, or end up in roadways, pools, lakes, or lost forever. The ASPCA states that more pets go missing on the 4th of July than any other day of the year, the vast majority of those are due to the unexpected noise and commotion of fireworks near their home. Shelters are bombarded with animals turned in as strays, and captured by Animal Control each year on the days after July 4th. Of those who end up at the animal shelters, less than 50% make their way back home.

Let’s be honest, you’re not going to stop the neighbors from “having fun” and lighting up the sky with color and the sound waves with unexpected loud noises. Even though fireworks have a devastating impact on the groups we mentioned above (small children, babies, the elderly, and most animals in the wild and domesticated) you might be surprised to know nearly all the United States, and the District of Columbia, allow the sale of fireworks in some form. The states that still prohibit the over-the-counter sale of fireworks have little to no control over their citizens simply going out of state to buy their fireworks and bring them back home. The type of fireworks that “Joe Neighborhood Guy” can buy for home use greatly varies from state-to-state, with some only allowing “ground effect” fireworks like sparklers, snakes, wheels, and some limited explosives. Others are much more open about what can be purchased on a whim. For the record, only Delaware, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York prohibit the personal use of fireworks, or the sale of fireworks to someone without a permit. (here is a nifty list of all states and the level of fireworks that can be purchased by anyone of age Fireworks Laws by State 2024 (

Even with all the Public Service warnings about the danger fireworks cause to animals, pets, and people (we haven’t even touched on personal injuries to people setting off fireworks at home, wild fires, roof fires, and the damage to property that home fireworks displays can cause) people simply will not stop buying or using fireworks in their back yards, in the streets, or in open areas.

It’s not like we don’t understand the allure and fun the fireworks bring to a 4th of July celebration. After all, “the rockets red glare, the bombs bursting in air” are a part of our National Anthem. It’s a great time to “ohhhh” and “awwwww” over the color display, shapes, sounds, and community spirit that a well planned and executed fireworks display can offer. However, an organized and scheduled city or county celebration in an open area that anyone who wishes to see the lights and is aware of the noises can attend, is a much better/safer/more controlled situation. Sure wildlife will still be impacted, animals frightened and other key disruptive factors still exist, but in a much smaller area that will effect fewer animals (and people).

So How do I Keep my Pets Safe on the 4th of July?

This is a great question, but the answer is very layered as you must create a safe area for your indoor pets, plus make sure common sense precaution are in place prior to the first fireworks being lit and launched.

  • Tag & Chip Your Pets: This is a precaution that should be one of the first things you do when you bring your fur kids home. They can’t talk, they don’t know how to navigate back home if they are lost or stolen, they can’t send a text or email to let you know where they are… so it’s imperative that all pet owners make sure that their babies have a microchip, but it goes further than that. There is a National Microchip Database that should have the contact information for the owners of the chipped pet. This is only as good as quality of the information provided. If you, the owner, didn’t update change of address or phone numbers that might happen after the initial chipping, then your chances of having your pet returned home dramatically drop.  We always suggest that you list your primary care veterinarian as a secondary contact point for the chip databases. Your vet has your contact information on file and can assist in helping connect whoever has your pet with you.

    Also, collar tags are key to help someone find you, should your fur baby end up at the home of a stranger. A collar tag should include the pets name, owners first name and phone number, and a least the city where the pet calls home. You can attach the tag to a collar or harness to add that second level of identification that could lead your lost pet back home. Keep in mind that collars can be lost, cut off removed, or the tag ripped away if it gets caught on some object, so they are only a backup to the microchip.

  • Create a “Comfort Zone” in Your Home Prior to the 4th of July:  Choose a room, preferably without windows and without a wall to the outside of he home, as your pets safety area. Basements are usually great for this Comfort Zone, as they are below ground level, the light show is diminished, and the noise is muffled by the enclosed area. We advise presetting your room a day or so in advance so you can assure the pet has time to acclimate to the room and you have time to assure comfort items, food, and water, are stocked and ready. Having a TV or music device to help distract the pet and drown out the noise of the “booms” is a huge help. A lot of dogs really like classical music played as a background noise. Also, if you can arrange for someone the pet knows and trusts to be in the room with them during the peak hours that the neighborhood warriors fire off their home fireworks, that adds a level of comfort to the animal.

    Make the noise and light okay by laughing as the booms happen, or talking in a soothing voice. The lack of panic on your part, making it a game that you laugh at, and talking in soft tones that are happy and upbeat will help your pet to see that the noise isn’t scary after all. You’re not freaking out, why should they. Use your bond with the pets, your status as pack leader, as a way to make the unusual situation normal. Get on their level, if you can, by laying on the floor or inviting them into your chair or on the couch. Provide familiar blankets, toys, pillows, or beds so that the world is as normal as possible for them.

  • See Your Veterinarian for Assistance as Needed:  If you suspect your dog is going to panic, if you know they are traumatized by loud and unexpected noises, if you anticipate that they will react negatively, you can seek out advice from your veterinarian. They could suggest something as simple as a “Thundershirt”, or even prescribe some medications to help the animal cope, or sleep through the event. It never hurts to ask the experts and let them help get your through the day.

  • Don’t Let Your Pets Out Until You’ve Policed Your Yard: Fireworks can and will drop chemicals as they fall contaminating the ground and water supplies. Pieces or parts of the exploded fireworks can end up on your property and in your pets mouth, throat, or stomach. Ingestion of the fireworks material can make your pet choke, make them sick, or worse. Even if your pets are not afraid of the noise and lights, they shouldn’t be allowed in an area where fireworks are being lit and set off. Beside the chemical aspect, there is fire and explosive devices. A dog is a curious animal and could attempt to sniff, taste, or examine a live and potent firework, which could lead to serious burns or other health calamities. The only “hot dog” you want on the 4th of July is the one on your grill, or on a bun with mustard and relish.

We can’t stress enough to keep your pets indoors and safe. There was a man who was at a local festival with his dog, they were checking out boats on the river from a “river walk” setting. As the afternoon turned to evening, the man saw the crowd was actually getting larger, not smaller. It was when he heard a couple passing by discussing the fireworks show that started at dusk when he realized exactly what was the reason for the uptick in people near the river. The pet parent in question knew his dog was not going to take the sudden booms and light show from the fireworks well, so he started a walk to his car as fast as he could navigate the crowds with the dog. He was less than half way there when the “booms” began. The poor small dog was terrified and devastated by the noise. The pup flattened out on the ground and started to show signs of “fight or flight.” The man grabbed his dog and ran the rest of the way to car, jumped in and turned on the radio to compete with the noise of the fireworks. This was a good ending to what could have been a disaster.

Pet’s can show the following signs of distress during fireworks displays…

  • visible trauma and stress

  • extreme anxiety and fear

  • fight or flight reaction that can be accompanied by abnormal behavior like biting or fighting

  • physical symptoms like hyperventilation, rapid heartbeat, shaking uncontrollably, drooling, foaming at the mouth, muscle tremors/spasms, pacing, or crying

It’s not the animals fault, they just don’t understand what is happening. The noise isn’t “cool” and the light show isn’t “beautiful.” to your pet, they are under attack by some unknown adversary. Reactions coded in their DNA from generations leading back to their wolf ancestors kicks in and they just want to be somewhere safe.

In closing… we all know you’re not going to reason with your neighbors who “have a constitutional right” to have fireworks, and don’t really care about the impact to animals (wildlife or pets). Since laws are changing rapidly, and sale of fireworks to anyone is a big moneymaking business, unless you are in a state where it is prohibited by law, there’s not much you can do except protect your furry loved ones with advanced planning. (however, if your state has ordinances or laws prohibiting home fireworks displays… we suggest that you go “full Karen” and call the local police so they can intervene).

Don’t let your animals out on fireworks nights, don’t take them to festivals or scheduled fireworks shows, even if they seem to not be bothered by the noise. It’s better to keep them in a safe place, at home, in comfort, than to lose them as they attempt to flee to safety, or get to close to a fireworks display. Make this July 4th a happy day, one you’ll remember for good times… not the loss of your best furry friend.

We hope this weeks Dog Blog was informative and helpful to you as you plan your fun and festivities for this years 4th of July Celebrations. If you enjoyed the read, we’d like to suggest you search through our pages of previous blogs that cover pet health & wellness, fun pet topics, and other pet related items. You can find a full list of Freddie’s Blogs at

Until next week, we wish you good health, great fun, awesome food, the best times, and a keen on on keeping your world Pet Friendly… #FreddieSez

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