By Janet McAfee

We humans cheerfully celebrate our nation’s Independence Day on July 4th with fun, food, and fireworks.  As we barbeque in the backyard with friends, it might be tempting to include our 4-legged family members.  However, the 4th of July is the worst day of the year for our canine and feline friends. The loud noise from fireworks is extremely painful to dogs’ ears.  The bangs, explosions, bright lights, and sirens create fear and confusion for both dogs and cats.  All pets must be kept indoors, except for short supervised potty breaks, during the upcoming 4-day holiday weekend.

On July 5th every year, some of our streets and highways look like war zones with dead and injured animals who escaped from homes in their fright. Others end up as strays in our public shelters.  Dogs in their frenzy from fireworks will jump tall fences that ordinarily contain them.  Sadly, many shelters euthanize more animals this week to create room for the anticipated holiday influx.  Owner turn-ins are the first shelter animals to be euthanized as no one is coming to look for them.  Shelter workers brace for a large influx of animals in the aftermath of July 4th.

WALK YOUR DOGS BEFORE THE FIREWORKS BEGIN, AND KEEP ALL PETS SECURELY INSIDE THE HOUSE UNTIL THE NIGHT AND FIREWORKS ARE COMPLETELY OVER.  Because the holiday falls on a Thursday this year, revelers will set off fireworks during the long 4 day weekend.


When your pets are safely inside, play soft music, turn on the television, or put in a fan to create white noise that sooths them from the extreme sounds.  Keep windows and curtains closed to further reduce noise and keep out the bright firework flashes.  Be careful when the front door opens.  Your pet is already under stress and he is more likely to dart out an open door or window. You may want to purchase rescue remedy or other calming supplement from a pet specialty shop.

Consider purchasing a Thundershirt for your pup, a gentle garment designed to reduce anxiety.  Provide your pet with a new toy such as a Kong with their favorite treats inside.

YOUR PET SHOULD WEAR AN ID TAG ON HIS COLLAR AT ALL TIMES WITH YOUR CELL PHONE ENGRAVED.  These inexpensive tags can be purchased at Petco and PetSmart.  Your pet should be microchipped and contact information kept current.  Make sure you have a current photo of all pets. These are the most important things you can do to ensure the safe return of a missing pet.

If your pup is outside as you prepare for the festivities, keep these curious creatures away from charcoal, fireworks, sparklers, and glow sticks.  Don’t let guests give them “people food” treats.  Foods such as onions, chocolate, avocado, grapes, raisins, and yeast dough can be toxic.   Never leave unattended alcoholic drinks near your pets as they have the potential to poison them.

Similar precautions need to be taken by cat owners.  Some cats are oblivious to fireworks, while others become very agitated.  Keep all windows and blinds shut.  Offer needed reassurance.  Allow them to hide under the bed or burrow under a blanket until they feel it’s safe to come out.

Looking for a missing pet?  The Coachella Valley Animal Campus shelter, located at 72-050 Pet Land Place in Thousand Palms, houses stray animals from all Coachella Valley cities other than Palm Springs.  You can contact them at (760) 343-3644 and   The Palm Springs shelter is located at 4575 Mesquite in Palm Springs, (760) 416-5719 and .  Both shelters have wonderful animals seeking homes where they can celebrate every holiday with you.    

I wish you and your 4-legged family members a happy and safe July 4th.