The Fourth of July holiday is fast approaching, but already in many parts of SoCal, fireworks have been going off nightly for weeks. While fireworks are a celebrated part of our holiday tradition, they can cause deep anxiety, confusion and downright terror for pets.
To help you keep your pets safe while you enjoy the holiday weekend, we reached out to Los Angeles Animals Services and put together a few tips.
It’s always best that you keep your pet indoors while fireworks are going off and, if possible, create a safe space for them in an enclosed room.
“Keep your pets indoors and if you're able to, provide them with their own closed off room or crate with some of their favorite toys, that can help," said Justin Khosrowabadi, a public relations specialist with LA Animal Services. "Closing windows or blinds and playing music to help muffle out the noise can create a soothing environment and help reduce stress for your pet."
In addition to their favorite toys, you also want to make sure they have access to food and water.
If you do allow your pet to go outdoors, make sure there is no way for them to escape.
"Especially with dogs, you know, making sure your fence or gate is repaired, that there isn't any way they can get out or jump over in your backyard to escape," Khosrowabadi said.
If you need to take your dog out for a walk, it's recommended to wait until a time when the fireworks are less intense and to minimize any possibility of them getting away from you should they become frightened.
"Definitely have a good grip on the leash and make sure it's attached to a collar or harness they can't get loose from," said Khosrowabadi. “If you feel that the fireworks are starting to get a bit too intense, maybe it's best to just take your pet and head back home and wait until things calm down.”
Beyond just frightening your pets, lit fireworks can pose a serious risk to pets in the form of potentially severe trauma to the face and paws.
“In addition to keeping pets away from fireworks because of the noise, they can cause burns, injuries," said Khosrowabadi.
Even unlit fireworks can pose a danger as many varieties contain potentially toxic substances.
"If the residue that's left over gets ingested by a pet they can get very sick and sometimes, maybe even have fatal consequences,” added Khosrowabadi.
If your dog or cat runs away and becomes lost, you want to make sure your pet has a microchip registered with your current contact information.
“One thing you can definitely be proactive about is the identification for your pet. You can get a microchip for your dog or cat, and if they end up getting out, they get scanned and if your information is on there, you get contacted right away. If you have a microchip and you've moved, now is the perfect time to update the information,” said Khosrowabadi.
If your pet doesn't have a microchip, you can get one through LA Animal Services. Many veterinarians also offer chip services.
"I would suggest calling LA Animal Services or local vets in the area," Khosrowabadi said.
Keeping a collar on your dog or cat with current license and ID information can also help facilitate your pet’s speedy return should it run away and become lost.
According to the ASPCA, about half of missing dogs and a third of missing cats were found simply by searching their local neighborhood. LA Animal Services agrees that most lost pets are found within a few blocks of home.
"Pets don't travel far when they get lost," said Khosrowabadi.
If your pet does become frightened and manages to run away to escape, you should act quickly. Post a picture and description online and start searching your neighborhood right away.
“Post a picture online. We have our own Facebook group for LA City, LA City Lost and Found Pets. There's other Facebook groups as well and you can post on. Nextdoor, Shadowapp and Pawboost are all great resources. And if you end up finding a pet, you can use the same resources to to help reunite it with the owner,” said Khosrowabadi.
Overall the best way to enjoy the Fourth of July holiday while keeping your pet safe is by remaining observant and keeping an eye on your pet. Where you can, try and get out in front of the problem by making sure your pet's ID is current and even reaching out to your neighbors.
“If your neighbors are going to be shooting fireworks off, maybe you can try calling them to see if they might not do that,” said Khosrowabadi. “They won’t always listen, but it’s good to be proactive."