• June 21, 2024

Independence Day and Protecting Your Pets

Independence Day and Protecting Your Pets

Independence Day and Protecting Your Pets 681 1024 Animal Care and Control

Independence Day and its aftermath are some of the busiest times for animal shelters because countless terrified pets have fled their homes in fear due to the noise of fireworks. In fact, DACC remains open to the public on this holiday when most County departments are closed, so pet owners can reclaim their lost and frightened family members immediately. It is a stressful and frantic time of the year for our staff, pets, and the families who have lost their cherished companions.

As we eagerly anticipate the festivities of the Fourth of July—complete with fireworks, barbecues, and gatherings—it’s important to remember that these celebrations can be stressful and even dangerous for our furry friends. For many pets, the loud noises and unfamiliar activities associated with Independence Day can cause anxiety and pose serious risks to their well-being. Let’s explore some essential tips and advice to ensure your pets stay safe and comfortable during this patriotic holiday.

Understanding Pet Anxiety and Risks

Fireworks are a hallmark of Fourth of July celebrations, but the loud bangs and bright flashes can be terrifying for pets. Dogs and cats have heightened senses, making them more sensitive to loud noises and sudden movements. This can lead to anxiety, fear responses like hiding or running away, and even injuries. When I was a child, my father discovered a terrified Collie hiding at the bottom of the outside stairs to our basement. He had broken both front legs when he threw himself through a second story window in terror from the loud noises. My father immediately took him to our local veterinarian, who happened to be that dog’s doctor, and who contacted the owners. The Collie received the necessary care, but it was a painful and terrifying incident that could have been prevented. Additionally, fireworks debris, such as spent fireworks or packaging, can be hazardous if ingested by curious pets.

Creating a Safe Environment at Home

The best way to protect your pets during Fourth of July celebrations is to create a calm and secure environment at home. Consider these tips:

  • Indoor Retreat: Create a safe space indoors where your pet can retreat to feel secure. This could be a quiet room or area with their bed, toys, and familiar comforts.
  • Sound Masking: Play soothing music or turn on a white noise machine to help drown out the sound of fireworks.
  • Comfort and Distraction: Provide your pet with distractions like toys or treats to keep them occupied and focused on something other than the noise outside.
  • Identification: Ensure your pet is wearing a collar with up-to-date identification tags. In case they escape due to fear, this increases the chances of them being returned to you. Make sure they are microchipped, and your contact information is up to date with the chip registry. Many times, we are unable to contact an owner who has moved or changed their phone number, and not notified the chip registry of the change.

Exercise and Timing

On the day of celebrations, plan your pet’s exercise and feeding schedule accordingly:

  • Exercise Early: Take your dog for a long walk or playtime earlier in the day before fireworks begin. This helps tire them out and reduces anxiety.
  • Feeding Time: Feed your pets several hours before fireworks are expected. A full stomach may help them feel more relaxed.

Firework Safety and Awareness

If you plan to attend fireworks displays or have neighbors who will set off fireworks, take proactive steps:

  • Keep Pets Indoors: Keep pets indoors during fireworks displays. Never bring them to fireworks events, as crowds and loud noises can overwhelm them.
  • Close Windows and Curtains: Reduce noise and block out flashes by closing windows and drawing curtains or blinds.
  • Stay Calm and Reassuring: Your pet may look to you for reassurance during fireworks. Stay calm, speak soothingly, and offer comfort without reinforcing fearful behavior.

Seek Medical Guidance

Speak with  your pet’s veterinarian about using sedatives to help keep your pet calm during the holiday. Remember, many people begin festivities before the actual Fourth of July and continue for several days afterward, so you may need a week or two’s supply of medication.

As we celebrate the spirit of Independence Day, let’s also commit to protecting our beloved pets from the potential dangers and stresses associated with fireworks. By understanding their needs, creating a safe environment, and taking proactive measures, we can ensure that our pets enjoy a safe and comfortable Fourth of July holiday.

Let’s make this Fourth of July a time of joy and security for both our families and our furry companions. Stay safe, stay vigilant, and cherish the moments of celebration with those you love—including your pets.


Marcia Mayeda

You can subscribe to Marcia’s blog here: https://animalcare.lacounty.gov/directors_blog/

The Los Angeles County Animal Care Foundation is a nonprofit 501(c)3 charity that raises money to support DACC in its mission of saving animals and keeping pets and families together. Learn more at www.lacountyanimals.org.

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