July 4th pet safety: Tips to reduce anxiety during holiday fireworks

As fireworks light up the sky this 4th of July, the loud sounds may cause stress and anxiety on your pets.

Dr. David Gonsky from West Loop Veterinary Care joined ABC 7 Chicago to give us some tips on how to keep your pets safe and secure.

Summer thunderstorms and other loud noises can be very upsetting to cats and dogs, but this is especially true at this time as individuals set off fireworks.

Dr. Gonsky says even easy-going pets can be startled or frightened by loud noises.

If your pet is especially troubled by fireworks, you can help your pets by doing the following:
  • Keep animals indoors in a safe, comfortable space.

  • Keep external doors and windows closed.

  • Be especially careful to keep pets away from doors as people come and go.

  • Play soft music, a calm television program or other ambient noise.

  • Walk dogs before dark.

  • Don't take dogs to celebrations with fireworks or loud noises.

  • Try calming pheromones.

  • Use calming shirts to ease their anxiety.


  • He says most importantly, be sure to keep pets secure and under control. Many pets will jump a fence, run out an open door, or pull away from their walk.

    Pets suffering from noise phobia may exhibit a variety of symptoms including:
  • Pacing

  • Panting

  • Shaking

  • Hiding

  • Barking

  • Aggressiveness

  • Destruction

  • Attempts to escape


  • Check that all pets are microchipped, and have collar tags and that all contact information is up-to-date, as more pets are lost around the July 4 holiday than any other time of the year.

    Dr. Gonsky also reminds pet owners to be careful about foods near your animals.

    RELATED: July 4th pet owner guide: Fireworks safety, picnic items to keep out of reach and more tips
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    Here are tips on how to keep your pet safe this 4th of July



    If you are having visitors, make certain that pets are secure or away from doors as guest come and go. Also, keep purses, bags and coats out of the reach of pets. Too often they get into sugar-free gum, over-the-counter medications, drugs, etc.

    If you are celebrating with cookouts, be aware that many of the foods can be problematic for pets.

    Foods that are toxic or can sicken pets include:
  • Alcohol & marijuana

  • Onions

  • Garlic

  • Grapes

  • Raisins

  • Chocolate - including baked goods

  • Sugar-free products with xylitol


  • Fatty foods can cause many different products ranging from an upset stomach to a serious illness called pancreatitis. So, it's best to keep fatty foods out of the reach of pets.
    These foods include:
  • Hot dogs

  • Hamburgers

  • Sausage

  • Ice Cream


  • Other foods can cause a choking hazard or become stuck in a pet's intestines and require surgery to remove.
    These include:
  • Corn cobs

  • Bones


  • It's always best to keep your pets on their regular diet. If you want to give them a treat, plain, fresh vegetables such as asparagus, carrots and green beans are good choices.

    Dr. Gonsky also said there are many anecdotal reports about CBD oil helping numerous conditions, including anxiety in pets. However, he added that we do not yet have scientific data to support the use of CBD for pets with anxiety, and pointed out that there is no clear guidance for dosing. How much is appropriate for a seven pound Chihuahua vs. a 70 lbs. Labrador retriever is unknown. There is no quality control, therefore there is no way to be sure what is in a given product, so he said he cannot recommend the use of CBD oil to help pets with anxiety or other problems. Dr. Gonsky did mention that he has had clients report good results with some CBD products for pets and anxiety.
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