The ultimate summer holiday is finally here! But, before you fire up the grill and get ready for the festivities, you’ll want to make sure your dog is ready to safely celebrate with you. Here’s your guide to a safe, dog-friendly Fourth of July weekend! 

Dog with sparkler, Fourth of July safety


Fireworks combine awe-inspiring visuals with pulse-pounding sound to create dramatic, can’t miss effects. Yet while we “ooh” and “aah” at these colorful explosions, our animals are often more frightened than enlightened. Here are a few ways you can prepare your pet for the dazzling display.

Take A Long Walk

Try taking your dog for a longer-than-usual walk before the fireworks start. This will allow your dog to release any excess energy and relax. Ideally, this will mean your dog sleeps through a display, or is in a generally calmer state of mind.

dog going for walk. Fourth of July safety

If They’re Joining You Outside

If you plan to have your dog outdoors with you during the display, make sure to monitor them closely, and keep a firm grip on the leash at all times. Also, try to stay relatively close to your vehicle as you may need to wait it out with them in the car or relocate to an indoor environment.

dog in backyard, Fourth of July safety

Spending The Night In

If your dog is staying at home, make sure they are secure and cannot escape outdoors. July 5th is the busiest day for shelter intakes in the United States, due to dogs escaping their homes or running from their owners due to fear of fireworks. Tragically, there have also been stories of dogs that escaped in panic during a fireworks celebration nearby and were killed by a passing car.

You should also consider crating your dog to reduce the likelihood of panic-induced destructive behavior.

Dogs looking out window, Fourth of July safety

After The Smoke Clears

Before getting back to your celebrations, make sure that your dog calms down after the grand finale. If you are outside, experts recommend that you take them in your car or indoors, and replace the sudden silence with a more calming sound, like the radio or your voice.

If your dog is inside, check on him or her as soon as possible to make sure he is safe. Experts do not recommend “coddling” your dog, as it may in fact reinforce their scared reactions. Instead, distract him or her with a toy and playing a favorite game. Remember: remain calm and confident at all times to encourage the same behavior in your dog.

dog laying on couch, Fourth of July safety

What’s Up Doc?

If your dog is particularly anxious around loud noises and if training has not helped calm him or her down, you might consider consulting a vet before the holiday. If your dog is in good health, your vet may recommend a CBD product to help him or her cope with the noise.

No matter what your situation is, you don’t have to miss the fireworks! With a little planning ahead, you can fully enjoy them, and protect your dog at the same time.

Dog outside during Fourth of July

Grill It Up!

These tips will help you keep an eye out for dangerous foods that dogs should NOT eat at your Fourth of July barbecue. As always, pay attention to ingredients, keep servings of the “good” people-food small, and don’t leave the food or trash unattended – these are some of the steps to making this a safe and healthy summer for your dog!

Grill, cookout, food, Fourth of July safety

Replace a Hot Dog with Grilled Zucchini

No doubt your dog would love a “dog” of his own, but a whole hot dog (not to mention the bun and toppings) is a big meal for his small stomach. A wiser choice for your pup is to either slice small pieces of hot dog for him or forgo the dogs all together and give him some healthy, dog-friendly grilled veggies like zucchini or asparagus. If you are flavoring these veggies with garlic, onions or lots of salt and spices, set aside a few plain ones for the dog. These ingredients are yummy for humans but not advised for dogs.

Replace a Cheeseburger with a Lean Meat Patty

Done right, grilled cheeseburgers are juicy, melt-in-your-mouth goodness – just make sure they don’t fall into your dog’s mouth! The large patties, cheese, bread and toppings combine to be too high in fat and calories for your dog, and eating this rich food can put her at risk of pancreatitis. Instead, you can treat your dog to a small patty of lean beef or ground turkey, cut up and mixed with grilled or fresh veggies.

Replace Chips and Dip with Sweet Potato

Potato chips and tortilla chips are a staple of cookouts, but they are often way too salty to share with our dogs. Dips are also off limits, as many are filled with ingredients like avocado, garlic, onions and chives that are not safe for dogs. On the other hand, sweet potatoes are a great people food for dogs, and one that most of them love to eat! They are also a great source of fiber and vitamins. Try this easy recipe for Sweet Potato Dog Chews and encourage your guests to give these special treats to your pup – and keep the chips and dip for the 2-legged guests only.

Replace Corn on the Cob with Popcorn

No summer cookout is complete without fresh corn on the cob, right? While we encourage you to enjoy this seasonal staple, do NOT toss a corn cob (fresh off the grill or picked clean) to your pup. Your dog could swallow part of the cob, blocking his airway or creating a blockage in her intestines. If this happens, your dog may need surgery to remove it. If you don’t wish to spend your evening at the animal hospital, keep the cobs away from Fido. Instead, toss her a few kernels of popcorn (the plain kind, not the salty, buttery version) and show off her catching skills!

Replace Apple Pie with Seedless Apple Slices

Who doesn’t love Apple Pie? While a slice of this tasty dessert is just too rich and sugary to share with your dog, its main ingredient makes a great end-of-meal treat! Set aside some apple slices for your dog when preparing the pie, or grab an extra apple when you purchase a pie from the store. Importantly, make sure you take out all of the seeds before handing over the apple slices to your dog, as they can be toxic to her if ingested. You can also throw in some other dog-friendly summer fruits for your pup’s dessert, including strawberries, blueberries, pineapple, watermelon and more.

Replace a Cold Beer with a Frozen Dog Treat

We all know how too much alcohol effects people. It takes much less alcohol to have the same effect on dogs. It’s never ok for dogs to drink beer or booze of any kind – so keep it far away from them at all times. Instead, why not try this Coconut Blueberry Frozen Dog Treat Recipe from the blog Kol’s Notes? Blueberries are a healthy fruit for dogs, and their bright color will make these homemade treats a memorable addition to any dog-friendly party!

If you have any questions about the safety of foods and ingredients for your dog, please contact your veterinarian.

Dog friendly menu, Fourth of July safety

Traveling Tips

It’s FINALLY time to get away, and nothing will stop your Independence Day vacation from happening! It’s best to be overprepared when traveling with your four-legged family members. Here are a few ways to make things easier.

Pack Smart

Make sure you have the essentials in the car and ready to go. Having these items will ensure your pup is ready for any situation. Important items to pack include: water and food bowls, dog food, any medications, poop bags, updated identification tags, collar, leash, any necessary medical records or vaccination certifications, crate, favorite bed or blanket, and dog toys.

dog packed up for trip in car, Fourth of July safety

Tire Them Out

Take your dog on a long walk or for an extended play session at the local dog park before hopping in the car. This will help them exert any pent-up energy, promote relaxation, and ideally sleep through most of the car ride. If possible, try to increase general physical exercise for a few days leading up to your departure!

dog playing at dog park, Fourth of July safety

In The Car

Resist the urge to coax your dog into the car with treats. If your dog gets carsick, or you aren’t sure if your dog gets carsick, it’s best to have them travel on an empty stomach.

You will also want to plan bathroom breaks. Make sure your pup never goes more than two hours without a bathroom break.

In the car make sure your dog is confined. You do not want your pup roaming around the car unrestrained. Consider investing in a travel dog crate, a small dog bucket seat or a dog seatbelt for your dog’s safety as well as your own.

Always make sure to keep them busy. Just like people, it’s easy for dogs to get bored on long car rides. Consider purchasing a few new toys to keep your pup occupied.

dog in car, ready for ride, Fourth of July safety

Before You Go

If your dog is anxious about spending long periods in the car, try taking a series of short drives to their favorite places to create a positive association.

Also, make a list of veterinary clinics in the area you are traveling to and obtain a copy of your dog’s medical records. It’s best to have reliable options ready to go in the event your pup needs medical attention.

dog at vet, Fourth of July safety


If you have any questions about these dog summer safety tips, we encourage you to reach out to your veterinarian for more information. Have a great summer, and have a happy 4th of July from all of us at DogWatch!