Keeping pets safe during 4th of July festivities


As much fun as the 4th of July is to humans, pets just don’t understand. To them, it can actually be very, very scary. Many, if not most, pets are terrified by the loud noises from fireworks. Historically one of the busiest days of the year in animal shelters all across the Country is July 5. Why? Fireworks!

According to the ASPCA, the stress and anxiety that fireworks creates in many dogs and cats can cause them to escape or become seriously ill. Some of the signs of anxiety or stress may include any or all of the following: panting, drooling, pacing, hiding, decreased appetite, abnormal urinations or defecations, dilated pupils and excessive grooming (of themselves).

The ASPCA advises pet owners to talk with your veterinarian well in advance of July 4 if medications are going to be necessary to help your pet through the fireworks. Be sure to do a “test dose” prior to the 4th to determine the dose and frequency that will be the safest and most effective for your pet.

Consider using pheromones, such as Feliway (for cats) or Dog Appeasing Pheromone (Adaptil, for dogs), or the Thundershirt for additional help with anxiety.

The ASPCA, shelters and veterinarians offer the following safety tips for pets:

  • Keep all cats and dogs indoors on and around the 4th of July. You never know when the fireworks will go off.
  • Keep all windows and doors securely closed. Block off all pet doors and ensure that all yard gates are losed.
  • Provide pets with a safe, quiet, and secure area within the house. This might be their crates or a small room. Be sure they have fresh water and some of their favorite toys with them. For cats, be sure to provide clean litter boxes in this area, too.
  • Effectively restrain and maintain control over dogs out for a walk on and around the 4th
  • Be sure your dog leashed up every time they leave your house. Attach the leash before you open the door!
  • Be sure that the leash is securely attached to a well-fitted and sturdy collar or harness. Many dogs have wriggled their way out of collars and harnesses that were too loosely fitted.
  • Never just let your dog out in the yard to “do their business” on or around the 4th of July. Dogs have been known to jump several feet over fences or burrow under them to escape their yard, and you never know when someone has made it easy for your dog by leaving a fence gate open. Always leash dogs up at this time of year.

Ensure that all pets – even indoor cats – have legible and up-to-date identification

  • Microchips are important, for all pets (even indoor-only cats).The only time it’s too late is once a pet has already disappeared. Make sure to register the chip and keep your contact information up-to-date.

Conduct an effective and thorough search for any pets who go missing.

  • Canyon Lakers should first call Community Patrol at 951-244-6841. If they have no knowledge of your missing pet, go to Operations by the North Gate. They will often hold pets with the hope that owners will pick them up prior to their going to Animal Friends of the Valleys. Finally, call AFV at 951-674-0618 (daytime) or their answering service at 951-506-5069 for after-hour emergencies.
  • Post a photograph and description of your pet on The Friday Flyer Facebook page. Several pets have already been reunited with owners this way. The word will spread quickly.
  • Always have recent photos of your pets handy. Plaster your neighborhood and town with lost pet posters – include a photo and any of your pet’s distinguishing features. Also be sure to include a way for people to get in touch with you!
  • Contact your microchip company and tag company.
  • Contact all veterinary clinics and hospitals in your area. Don’t forget about your local pet emergency hospitals.
  • Contact all veterinary clinics and hospitals in your area. Don’t forget about your local pet emergency hospitals. •
  • Call AFV daily at 951-674-0618 and monitor their website Be sure to call and check their website every day – but be patient with them, they are sure to be overloaded with enquiries and pets needing care.
  • Plaster your neighborhood and town with lost pet posters – be sure to include a photo and any of your pet’s distinguishing features. Also be sure to include a way for people to get in touch with you!
  • Post a “lost pet notice” on Craigslist and check back daily.

In addition, the ASPCA offers the following health and safety tips for pets:

  • Don’t Put Insect Repellant on Your Pet that isn’t Specifically for Pet Use

The same tip applies to applying “people” sunscreen on your pet. What isn’t toxic to humans can be toxic to animals. The ASPCA lists the poisonous effects of sunscreen on your pet as, “…drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, excessive thirst and lethargy.” DEET, a common insecticide, may cause neurological issues.

  •              Alcoholic Drinks Poison Pets

If your pet drinks alcohol, they can become dangerously intoxicated, go into a coma, or even die from respiratory failure. Yes, even beer is toxic; fermented hops and ethanol are poisonous to dogs and cats.

  •              Keep Your Pet Away from Glow Jewelry

It might look cute, but your pet could chew up and swallow the plastic adornments. The ASPCA states that while not highly toxic, “excessive drooling and gastrointestinal irritation could still result from ingestions, and intestinal blockage could occur from swallowing large pieces of the plastic containers.”

  •              NEVER, NEVER Use Fireworks Around Pets

While lit fireworks can pose a danger to curious pets and potentially result in severe burns and/or trauma to the face and paws, even unused fireworks can be hazardous. Some fireworks contain potentially toxic substances such as arsenic, potassium nitrate, and other heavy metals.

  •              Don’t Give Your Pet “Table Food”

If you are having a backyard barbeque, you may be tempted to slip some snacks to your pet. But like beer and chocolate, there are other festive foods that could harm your pet. Onions, coffee, avocado, grapes AND raisins, salt and yeast dough are all possible hazards for dogs and cats.

  •              Lighter Fluid and Matches Are Harmful to Pets.

The ASPCA lists chlorates as a harmful chemical substance found in some matches that, if ingested, can cause your pet difficulty in breathing, damage blood cells or even cause kidney disease. If exposed to lighter fluid, your pet may sustain skin irritation on contact, respiratory problems if inhaled, and gastric problems if ingested.

  •              Citronella Insect Control Products Harm Pets, Too.

Oils, candles, insect coils and other citronella-based repellants are irritating toxins to pets, according to the ASPCA. The result of inhalation can cause severe respiratory illnesses such as pneumonia, and ingestion can harm your pet’s nervous system.

Take the simple steps highlighted above and not only will you minimize the likelihood that your pets will be among the thousands of pets entering a shelter this year on July 5th, but you’ll also greatly increase the chances that you’ll be reunited with them if they do.

Have a safe and wonderful 4th and a stress-free 5th!


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Donna Ritchie