By Janet McAfee
We humans will cheerfully celebrate our nation’s July 4th Independence Day this year with parades, fun, food, family and possibly a fireworks show at a local casino or public venue. However, this holiday is the worst day of the year for our canine and feline friends. With July 4th occurring on a Monday this year, be prepared for some people to set off illegal fireworks for 4 days beginning Friday, July 1.
People who set off illegal fireworks into the sky may or may not realize the loud noise they create is extremely painful to dogs’ ears. The bangs, explosions, bright lights, and sirens create fear and confusion for our beloved pets. My friend’s cat broke through a window screen during the fireworks, but fortunately returned home the next day.
Our streets and highways look like war zones on July 5th with dead and injured animals who escaped from homes in their fright. Dogs in their frenzy from fireworks will jump tall fences that ordinarily contain them. Our already overcrowded public shelters with staff shortages will have difficulty responding to increased calls regarding strays and may run out of kennel space.
Riverside County prohibits the use of these fireworks, and violators may be fined up to $1,000. Frustrated pet owners can report these fireworks to the Sheriff’s Department Dispatch at (951) 776-1099, IF YOU CAN IDENTIFY AN ADDRESS. The loud booms are distressing to animals, create stress for people, and disturb the sleep of thousands of others. Our combat veterans who have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder likewise experience increased stress and anxiety from the loud explosions caused by fireworks.
What are some things you can do to keep your pets safe?
THE MOST IMPORTANT THING YOU CAN DO IS KEEP YOUR PET INSIDE DURING THIS HOLIDAY EXCEPT FOR SHORT SUPERVISED POTTY BREAKS. WALK YOUR DOGS BEFORE THE FIREWORKS START AND KEEP ALL PETS SECURELY INSIDE THE HOUSE UNTIL THE NIGHT AND FIREWORKS ARE COMPLETELY OVER.
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. If you have a dog that is prone to running off, consider purchasing a GPS tracker that can monitor his location.
You may want to purchase rescue remedy or other calming supplement from a pet specialty shop. One owner reported a few drops of Frankincense essential oil placed along the back of their dog’s neck helped him stay calm. For more serious cases of anxiety, your veterinarian can prescribe medication.
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 with current contact information. 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 a holiday BBQ, keep these curious creatures away from charcoal. Don’t 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 www.rcdas.org . The Palm Springs shelter is located at 4575 Mesquite in Palm Springs, (760) 416-5719 and www.psanimalshelter.org . There are several local Facebook pages dedicated to reuniting missing pets, including “Lost and Found Pets in the Coachella Valley” and “Pets in the 760”.
I wish you and your 4-legged family members a happy and safe holiday!