CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Fourth of July holiday is one of the scariest days of the year for pets -- the loud sounds of fireworks often startle pets, and sometimes sends them running away. Ahead of the holiday weekend, it's important to know how to protect your pets.
"Loud noises, at night, flashes of light that our pets are not used to," Emily Cook, marketing and communications manager of Humane Society of Charlotte, said, describing how the holiday can seem to pets.
Experts say with a little planning, the holiday can be enjoyable for everyone -- including pets.
"Not all animals are thrilled about this time of year and we need to make sure we are in tune with our pet," Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department Animal Care and Control spokesperson Melissa Knicely said.
There are crucial and simple steps to keep pets safe during fireworks.
Make sure your pets get plenty of exercise during the day, so they're mellow once fireworks start. During the actual fireworks, use music as a distraction or turn up the volume on the television to help drown out the loud explosions with a more familiar source.
Another important tip: keep your pets in one room inside.
"Your bedroom," Knicely suggested, adding, "Make it a quiet hideaway spot for them if you do have people over for a party. Or a walk-in closet is the best for dogs and cats, it gives them a really nice secure feeling."
Shelters are getting ready for the spike in run-away pets who take off -- trying to escape the noise of celebration.
"If you look at all of the cards you're going to see a lot of these are stray," Knicely said.
That's why it's so important that pets are microchipped and have an up-to-date identification tag for your pet.
"Statistically, every year it's the highest day that people report missing pets," Cook said.
Lastly -- keep pets away from firework shows.
"If you have not been through the season and you have a new dog, you don't really know how that dog is going to react to all that excitement -- the crowd, the cheering, other dogs, it's big, it's a lot," Knicely said.
And one last tip from the experts: if you take your pet out at night to go to the bathroom, make sure to put a leash on them. It will give an extra layer of protection, as those fireworks could go late into the night.