For most American families, Independence Day is a day filled with BBQ, fun and fireworks. For pets, however, this time of year can be the absolute worst. By some estimates, at least 40 percent of dogs experience noise anxiety, which is most pronounced in the summer. Animal shelters report that their busiest day for taking in runaway dogs is July 5.

Being startled by a loud noise is normal, for dogs as well as humans. But these dogs cannot settle back down. Even if most reactions are not as extreme as the dog who tears out its nails while frantically scratching a door, many dogs will cower, pace and defecate indoors.

So what can you do to ensure your pet’s 4th of July isn’t a traumatic experience? Check out some tips below we’ve collected from experts.

Make sure your pet is “trackable”

You should keep your pets indoors during 4th of July festivities, but if the unexpected happens, it’s important to make sure all of your pets wear an appropriate fitting collar with proper identification attached, such as a rabies tag or tag with their name, address and phone number on it. Microchipping your pet is also highly recommended.  

Try conditioning your dog to noise before the big show

While it may sound like a radical solution, sometimes it’s best to inoculate your dog against loud, jarring noises in advance of fireworks season.

Dione Black, a veterinarian at All Creatures Animal Hospital, suggests bracing your pyro-phobic pet for July 4.

On the hospital’s website, she says that “recordings of loud and scary noises such as firework explosions, trains, thunder … can be used to aid in the desensitization of your pet. Start with the volume down low and gradually increase it to a loud level.”

There’s no better time to unlock the treat jar

Needless to say, dogs could use a distraction when things get loud. Consider loading up on a favorite food when fireworks reach a fevered pitch.

“Offer an engaging and tasty treat such as a peanut butter-filled kong to keep dogs occupied and comforted,” One veterinarian notes.

If all else fails, embrace the “thundershirt”

The animal news site, The Dodo,  reported on a simple measure that could go a long way toward keeping your pet from going into a full-fledged panic attack. Called a “thundershirt,” this do-it-yourself model aims to wrap up your dog in a blanket or large shirt, making him feel snug and protected — and, hopefully, suppressing the urge to run like hell.

Keep an eye out for loose fireworks!

Before letting your pet outside, do a sweep of your yard to make sure there are no spent fireworks or other hazards laying around that your pet may come in contact with. A disturbing trend has been reported by news stations about homemade fireworks being created inside tennis balls, which are especially dangerous to dogs if they are left lying around!