The 4th of July is just around the corner, which means now is an important time to prepare for the safety of your furry friends. Booming and shrieking fireworks can cause pets to become frightened, disoriented, and startled, and many will try to escape.

Even if your pet is usually calm and unfazed by commotion, you never know how an animal will react in an unexpected stressful situation – often climbing over fences, ripping through window screens, and bolting away from home. Before this holiday, ask yourself the following questions to help keep your pet safe:

1. Does your pet have an ID tag on their collar? A tag with your contact information on your pet’s collar will help them make it home more quickly than any other method. Even if you keep your pet’s dog license tag or rabies tag on their collar, if it doesn’t have your phone number, a finder will likely have to contact your veterinarian or licensing animal services agency (on one of their busiest days of the year!) to make the connection. You can make a custom dog tag at any local pet store. While you’re adding their new tag, be sure your pet’s collar is tight enough that they can’t slip it off if a firework goes off while they’re walking on their leash! (Tip: If you can’t make it to the pet store for a new tag, write your phone number on the outside of their collar!)

2. Is your pet microchipped? If not, call your veterinarian and schedule a microchip appointment as soon as possible. A microchip is the most reliable, permanent form of identification your pet can have. Inserted between the shoulder blades, a microchip is only about the size of a grain of rice and contains all of the important information needed to reunite you with your pet if they become lost. Once your pet is found and taken to a vet or shelter like Roice-Hurst to be scanned for a chip, you’ll be alerted to come pick up your furry family member.

3. Is your pet’s microchip up-to-date? Having your pet microchipped is just the first step. A microchip is not useful if it doesn’t contain identifying information, so be sure that you’ve registered your pet’s microchip and included your contact information. If you adopted your pet from a shelter like Roice-Hurst, your contact information was automatically registered to your pet’s microchip – but it never hurts to check that it’s all correct! Visit your pet’s microchip manufacturer’s website to update the chip. (If you got your pet from Roice-Hurst, it’s likely

4. Is your house and yard secure? Be sure your windows and doors are completely closed. You’d be surprised how quickly a terrified cat can rip through a window screen and escape when the window is only cracked a couple of inches, or how quickly a dog can dart past your legs and bolt out the door. If you have a fenced-in yard, be sure to move any objects away from the side of the fence that your dog could use to climb up and over.

5. Do you have a plan for indoor/outdoor pets? If you have an indoor/outdoor cat, try to keep them indoors at least a day before the expected commotion. Loud, unexpected noises can leave your cat terrified and disoriented, leaving her lost and hidden in places that you don’t even know exist. If your dog usually gets to freely roam the backyard, try supervising him on a leash in case an unexpected boom startles the dog while he’s outside.

6. How will you help your pet stay calm during the commotion? In addition to securing all possible exits, help your pet stay calmer by closing blinds and curtains and playing calming music or TV to drown out the scary sounds. Sometimes, wrapping your pet in a blanket or towel can help them feel more secure. If you are able to stay home, your pet will likely appreciate your comforting presence. If your pet has extreme anxiety, talk to your veterinarian about medications to help your pet relax for the holiday.

Enjoy a safe and happy 4th of July from all of us at Roice-Hurst Humane Society!