Portland, OR. The activities that make Fourth of July fun for people – exploding fireworks, houseguests and an abundance of food – also make this holiday hazardous for pets. Doctors at DoveLewis Veterinary Hospital & and The Oregon Humane Society are warning pet owners to take extra precaution during the holiday weekend to make sure pets are safe. The Oregon Humane Society is gearing up for Independence Day. On July 5th, animal shelters across the country will face the daunting task of caring for the many lost dogs and cats who bolted from their homes because they were terrified of fireworks. Sadly, some lost pets are never reunited with their owners.

Fourth of July pet hazards include:

  • Fireworks danger – Animals can mistake fireworks in shiny packaging for food. Additionally, flames from falling fireworks and sparklers can burn pets.
  • Lost pets – When pets are scared by fireworks or loud noises, they can jump fences or dig their way out of yards, causing them to get lost.
  • Stress – Exploding fireworks, house guests or routine interruptions can cause stress and anxiety. Stressed pets may experience vomiting, diarrhea, gastrointestinal issues, decrease in appetite, or aggression.
  • Food – Pets often sneak food during a holiday barbecue or picnic, which can lead to digestion mishaps. Many foods (chocolate, grapes, onions, etc.) can be toxic to animals, while other foods (corn cobs, chicken bones, etc.) can get stuck in the intestines and require surgery.

Prevent lost pets and injuries with these safety tips:

  • Safely secure pets indoors while fireworks are going off. If dogs must go outside during this time, they should be on a leash and monitored at all times.
  • Pets who are extra sensitive to loud noises should not be left alone for extended periods of time.
  • Keep used and unused fireworks away from animals at all times.
  • Talk to your veterinarian about whether the use of a mild sedative is appropriate.
  • Keep all food out of a pet’s reach, and make sure trash bags are tightly secured.

More ideas from the Oregon Humane Society Training and Behavior Department can be found here: https://www.oregonhumane.org/wp-content/uploads/5.25.17_Fear_of_Thunder_Noises-1.pdf

 Photo by Courtney Zerezif.

If your pet becomes lost during the holiday:

1) Check with your local animal control agency. Many agencies have lost-and-found listings on their website (OHS, by law, cannot accept stray animals).

2) Post on Nextdoor, Craigslist, and other lost pet websites.

  1. Put up flyers with a photo and description of the missing pet.

4) Search your neighborhood and your own property thoroughly. Lost cats, for example, are often found hiding under a bush in front of their owner’s home.

5) More resources regarding Fourth of July pet safety, plus help for reuniting lost and found dogs with their owners, can be found on the OHS website at: oregonhumane.org/fourth-of-july-pet-safety-resources.

Gunter gets a hug at the Oregon Humane Society

If you find a stray animal, please keep them with you until your local animal shelter is open and ready to receive them. Below is contact information for shelters in the Portland metro and Southwest Washington areas:

Clackamas County Dog Services

13141 SE Highway 212

Clackamas, OR



Humane Society for Southwest Washington

1100 NE 192nd Ave. Vancouver, WA



Multnomah County Animal Services

1700 W. Historic Columbia River Highway, Troutdale, OR



Oregon Humane Society

1067 NE Columbia Blvd., Portland, OR



(Note: OHS does not accept stray animals; please contact your local county shelter)

Bonnie L. Hays Small Animal Shelter/Washington County Animal Services

1901 SE 24th Avenue, Hillsboro, OR



Clark County Animal Protection and Control

1300 Franklin Street, Vancouver, WA



From The Oregon Humane Society:

The Oregon Humane Society is the Northwest’s oldest and largest humane society. OHS receives no tax dollars to support its adoption, education, and animal cruelty investigation programs. Visit oregonhumane.org for more information.

From DoveLewis Veterinary Emergency & Specialty Hospital:

DoveLewis Veterinary Emergency & Specialty Hospital, established in 1973 and based in Portland, Oregon, is the only nonprofit, 24-hour emergency and intensive care unit in the region. With 45 years of service to the community, DoveLewis has treated more than 500,000 animals. DoveLewis also has seven donor-supported community programs that serve animals in need and the animal-loving community.