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Dr. Pawz: Keep your pet home for the 4th of July

Monday - 7/1/2013, 1:32pm  ET

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Keep your pets at home this 4th of July -- but make sure they're well-cared for. (Thinkstock)

WASHINGTON - If you're planning on bringing your pup to Fourth of July festivities, think twice about events with fireworks. Local veterinarian Katy Nelson says exposing pets to frightening fireworks displays isn't fair to Fido.

"If you have an animal that's noise-phobic -- so if you have a dog that's afraid of thunderstorms or a cat that gets terrified by the garbage truck rumbling by -- these are the ones that are more likely going to be freaked out by fireworks," Nelson says.

And bringing these scared pets to crowded public events is bad for both of you.

"If you take your dog out to one of the D.C. events for the fireworks and your dog gets really freaked out, and someone else tries to walk by them or tries to comfort them, you never know if your normally wonderfully gentle dog might try and nip at someone," Nelson says.

Her advice? Leave your pooch at home. Find a quiet room in your house where your dog can stay while you're out.

"Turn on the television, turn on the fan, do something to kind of give them a little bit of white noise, because just that white noise can really help," Nelson says.

Another tip: Be proactive. If you've got something that works for your pet to calm them down give it to them preemptively, Nelson suggests.

If you'd like to keep your pup drug-free, here are some comforting alternatives to help them get through the holiday.

The Thundershirt: If your pooch is frightened by fireworks, or any other loud noise, wrap them in this specially designed vest. The outfit applies a constant soothing pressure that calms anxious pups. Thundershirts are also available for skittish cats.

Calming Collar: Pop this around your puppy's neck for all-natural anxiety relief. The pheromones contained in the collar are just like the ones that mother dogs produce to soothe and reassure their puppies.

Adaptil: Adaptil (formerly DAP) uses the same pheromones, but it's available in three different forms: collar, electric diffuser and spray. If you're planning on heading out for a long time, the diffuser may be your best bet.

Dr. Katy Nelson is an emergency veterinarian in Alexandria, Va. Tune in to "The Pet Show" with Dr. Katy every Saturday at 11 a.m. on Washington D.C.'s News Channel 8, and listen on WTOP for her Dr. Pawz segments every two weeks. Have questions for Dr. Katy? You can follow her on Twitter @drkatynelson, on Facebook or email her at askdrkaty@wtop.com.

Dana Gooley contributed to this report. Follow @WTOP and @WTOPliving on Twitter.

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