I’ve always loved warmth and summertime. Add in some good food and fireworks displays and it is no wonder that 4th of July has long been my favorite holiday. As a kid I remember climbing the cherry tree at the end of our logging road in small town Oregon and stuffing my face with cherries as the 4th of July parade went by. There is always a social gathering or cookout followed by beautiful lights in the sky. For people, 4th of July is party central. For pets, it can mean GI upset from sneaking fatty foods and anxiety from the noisy fireworks.

If you have a pet that gets anxious with thunder or loud noises such as fireworks, get prepared now. For years we vets have sent sedatives or anxiolytics out the vet clinic doors the week prior to fireworks. Some pet owners might try over the counter options such as Benadryl or valerian root or melotonin to make their pet drowsy. For years vets used acepromazine to cause sedation. Currently in vogue is the use of alprazolam (“xanax”) to decrease anxiety (and cause mild drowsiness) during fireworks. I’m also a fan of the Thundershirt for dogs (a close fitting jacket that has calming effect much like a big hug.) Regardless of which option you choose, plan ahead. Do a trial run a week or few days or a week prior so you know how your pet reacts to the product and evaluate the dose. Get it before the holiday so that you aren’t rushing last minute to get to your vet who will likely be closed on the 4th.

Just as vet clinics usually experience a rush of sedative requests prior to the 4th of July holiday, we usually see a few pets present with GI upset after the 4th of July holiday. Whether your pet sneaks some fatty treats off the table or whether your Aunt Mable gives your pooch a heaping pile of potato salad when you aren’t looking, festival goodies can spell trouble for a pet’s digestive system. It’s a good idea to ask your guests to not feed your pets. Warn them that violators will be prosecuted! If you choose to give your pet a few lean goodies from the festivities, it should be from you and not from your oft well-intentioned guests. Or, tell your guests that your pet can have only lean meats or baby carrots from the veggie tray. Have a plan. As scuba divers say, “Plan your dive and dive your plan.”

I wish you all the best on this 4th of July holiday.


NOTE: Consult your Veterinarian first to make sure my recommendations fit your special health needs.

Dr . Joi Sutton

Dr . Joi Sutton

Dr. Joi Sutton is a 1993 graduate from Oregon State University. She has practiced both in emergency medicine and general practice. Dr. Sutton has done extensive international volunteer work and is the President and Founder of Veterinary Ventures, a nonprofit organization that takes teams of veterinarians to undeveloped countries for humane medical care. She also runs a small animal practice in South Florida.
Dr . Joi Sutton