(WFXR) — The Fourth of July is a day filled with tasty food, festive fireworks, and other fun activities, but despite all the exciting distractions, pet parents need to take precautions to protect their furry friends from certain holiday hazards.

According to the American Kennel Club, more pets go missing around the July 4 weekend than at any other point in the year.

Fireworks, though fun for humans, are terrifying to many animals.

“The best advice is to keep them at home,” Spartanburg Humane Society’s Angel Cox said. “Put them in a crate or in a room with the door closed.”

Cox said having toys, treats, thunder-shirts and playing calming music or sounds can help put your pet at ease, too.

However, she said, pets can still escape, so it’s still important to microchip and tag your pet with your current contact information.

Nexstar’s WFXR compiled a list of safety tips from VCA Animal Hospitals and the American Veterinary Medical Association that will help you avoid potential pet pitfalls so you and your furry friends can have a happy, healthy Fourth of July.

Fireworks fears

While many people love fireworks, we can’t say the same for our pets. With their keen senses of hearing and smell, they can register this festive tradition as something to fear, so keep your pet away from any place where fireworks may be lit.

If you know your pet has a fear of fireworks, VCA Animal Hospitals encourage you to teach them some coping techniques ahead of the big night to help them feel more comfortable when you leave them at home as you go to parties, parades, and fireworks displays:

  • Set up a safe space ahead of time: Choose a spot in your home where your pet likes to relax that will also buffer the sights and sounds of the fireworks — such as a walk-in closet or a room with blackout curtains — and then fill it with comfortable beds, some favorite toys and treats. This way, your pet will have a “happy place” where they can go to feel secure when they get scared.
  • Drown out the sound: Close all the windows and doors in your home and leave music playing in your pet’s safe place to help block out the booms during the fireworks display.
  • Provide plenty of distractions: Give your furry friend something fun to focus on during the celebration by pulling out their favorite toys or stuffing toys with treats.
  • Don’t make a fuss: While it’s natural to want to comfort your pet when they get distressed, excessive comforting may actually reward your pet’s behavior or validate their fears. Instead, just give them a few calming pats and proceed as if nothing out of the ordinary is happening.
  • Consider calming supplements or pheromones: There are several natural supplements designed to reduce anxiety for pets. If you give some to your furry friend before the fireworks begin, it may help them relax and reduce their reactivity. 

While this is not exactly a coping mechanism, experts say it’s still important to make sure your home and yard are secure and that your pet is wearing their collar with updated tags in case they freak out and run off amid all the noise — which is a common occurrence amid the Fourth of July. You should also consider having them microchipped.

Other holiday hazards

According to VCA Animal Hospitals, citronella candles and tiki torch oil can cause stomach problems if swallowed, or even lung irritation if the fumes are inhaled. You can also protect your pets from serious burns by keeping them away from fires, hot coals, and sparklers.

Since the Fourth of July is a summer celebration, you need to keep an eye on the weather because too much sun, heat, and humidity can be dangerous to pets. Therefore, the American Veterinary Medicine Association says you should keep animals inside when it’s extremely hot and/or humid; make sure they have access to shady spots and plenty of water if they do come outside, which should not be for a long time in hot weather; and know the signs of a pet overheating.

If you decide to let your pets cool off in or near a swimming pool, you need to play lifeguard, as well as make sure the water isn’t too hold or cold.

Meanwhile, if you’re hosting a holiday gathering, ask your guests to help prevent your pets from escaping, even if that means leaving notes on doors and gates.