By Janet McAfee

This week we humans cheerfully celebrate our nation’s July 4th Independence Day with fun, food, family and fireworks.  In past years, July 4th is the worst day of the year for our canine and feline friends. Folks setting off fireworks outside their homes may or may not realize the loud noise is extremely painful to dogs’ ears.  The bangs, explosions, bright lights, and sirens create fear and confusion for our beloved pets.

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 some of our combat Veterans who have PTSD, and disturb the sleep of thousands of others.

In past years, our streets and highways look like war zones on July 5th with dead and injured animals who escaped from homes in their fright. Others end up as strays in our public shelters.  Dogs in their fearful frenzy from fireworks will jump tall fences that ordinarily contain them.  My best friend’s cat broke through a window screen and escaped, though luckily returned the next day.  Shelters coping with budget issues and reduced staff from Pandemic woes may not have the manpower to respond to calls about injured and lost animals.


WALK YOUR DOGS BEFORE THE FIREWORKS BEGIN, AND KEEP ALL PETS SECURELY INSIDE THE HOUSE UNTIL THE NIGHT AND FIREWORKS ARE COMPLETELY OVER.  The actual holiday falls on a Sunday this year, but we may see and hear illegal fireworks throughout the week.

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 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 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 .   The Palm Springs shelter is located at 4575 Mesquite in Palm Springs, (760) 416-5719 and .  An effective way to get a missing dog or cat returned is to post their photo on which alerts hundreds of your neighbors.  There are several local Facebook pages dedicated to reuniting missing pets, including “Lost and Found Pets in the Coachella Valley”.

I wish you and your 4-legged family members a happy, safe, and healthy July 4th!