The July 4 festivities can bring excitement for humans, but for dogs and cats they bring stress and fear.
“Nationally, more dogs run away on the 4th of July than on any other day,” Beth Ward, Chief Operating Officer of the Humane Society Silicon Valley, said in a press release.
And 75 percent of the dogs and 96 percent of the cats that run away on July 4 are never found by their owners. That is is mainly due to the problem of identification, said Mark Saraceni, vice president of marketing at the Humane Society.
Make sure that the identification on your pet’s collar and the information linked to the microchip are up-to-date. Dogs can travel up to 25 miles in one day, a far distance to cover when searching for a missing dog.
In addition to updating identification, the American Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals suggests these tips for keeping your four-legged friend safe:
- Don’t allow pets outside. Make sure all doors and gates are secure. With them inside, there’s a lower chance of them going missing and the noise of fireworks won’t be as loud as it would be outside.
- Keep alcoholic beverages and human food out of reach of pets, as well as sunscreen, insect repellent, matches and lighter fuel. These substances can poison pets, and, in some cases, cause respiratory failure.
- Distance pets from fireworks as much as possible. A dog’s hearing is ten times more sensitive than a human’s.
- Dressing up pets may be fun, but be aware that it can provide the risk of having them ingest or choke on the clothing or jewelry that you put on them.
- Designate a separate space for pets if you’re inviting friends or family over.
Summer Holmstrand, practice manager at in Los Altos, said she gives her German shepherd a treat ball when the fireworks are going off because favorite treats keep pets distracted.
She recommended various medications and other means to calm over-reactive dogs, including sedatives, "Thundershirts," and pheromone sprays.
With sedatives, “They’re still aware of what’s going on but it helps them be calmer,” said Holmstrand.
If you don't like the idea of sedatives, a Thundershirt may help. This is a wrap that fits snugly around a dog’s torso, said Holmstrand. It exerts a gentle pressure on the dog's body, which has a calming effect. Several clients and fellow staff members have used it as a good alternative to medication.
Medications are effective for all dogs, whereas Thundershirts don’t calm all dogs, Holmstrand said.
“Fireworks start a couple days before, so keep these things in mind as much before the fourth as on the fourth,” said Holmstrand.
We Community Alliance to Reduce Euthanasia (C.A.R.E.) Project, an alliance of six animal shelters, helps pet owners find their lost pets in the Santa Clara County by providing lost and found resources, said Saraceni.
You can protect your pet by getting a microchip for $10 through July 7 at City of Palo Alto Animal, Humane Society Silicon Valley, City of San Jose Animal Care Center and Silicon Valley Animal Control Authority as part of the We Care Project.
If your pet is lost, visit We Care Project to find the best agency to contact.
- For Palo Alto, Los Altos, and Los Altos Hills, contact Palo Alto Animal Services at 650-496-5971
- For Mountain View, Campbell, Monte Sereno and Santa Clara, contact the Silicon Valley Animal Control Authority at 408-764-0344
- Cupertino, Los Gatos, Milpitas, Saratoga and San Jose, contact the San Jose Animal Care Center, 408-794-7297
- For Sunnyvale, contact the Humane Society of Silicon Valley, 408-262-2133 x110
- For Gilroy, contact the Gilroy Police at 408-846-0350
- For Morgan Hill, contact the Morgan Hill Police at 408-779-2101
- For unincorporated parts of Santa Clara County, contact County of Santa Clara Animal Shelter in San Martin, 408-686-3900
How do you keep your pets safe on the 4th of July? Share your tips in the comments section below.