How to protect your furry friends from fireworks and other dangers this Fourth of July

The Fourth of July remains one of the most dangerous for domestic animals but you can keep your pets safe with a few simple steps. Kim Harris photo
The Fourth of July remains one of the most dangerous for domestic animals but you can keep your pets safe with a few simple steps. Kim Harris photo

The Riverside County Department of Animal Services are urging owners to protect their pets this Fourth of July.

According to a press release issued by the agency, the Fourth of July remains one of the most dangerous for domestic animals – but owners can take several steps to prevent their pet from adding to the sobering statistics after the patriotic holiday.

One of the easiest ways for pet owners to ensure their pet won’t run away scared is by placing them in a quiet, sheltered and escape-proof area of the home. Give a dog a special chew treat or something that keeps them occupied. Pet owners should be aware that some dogs will do anything they can to escape the noise of fireworks.

Try to be home for your pet. If the pet owner is traveling, assign a relative or good friend to be at the house to care for the pet and help ensure the pet remains in its home. Veterinarians can also give pet owners sedatives to keep their animals calm.

Pets should not be taken to outdoor, public fireworks displays.

Since some pets will become great escape artists during noisy Fourth of July events, this is a great time to remind pet owners to get their pets microchipped – and make sure that the information connected to chipped pets includes current phone numbers and addresses for the owner.

County shelters located in Blythe, Jurupa Valley, San Jacinto and Thousand Palms are closed July 2-4 for the holiday and expect July 5 to be their busiest day of the year.

Officials said they do believe the volume of pets impounded after the holiday is trending somewhat downward, but the period after July 4 remains one of the busiest periods for shelters.

“If you are looking for a lost pet we encourage you to print and complete this Kennel Visitation Form,” the press release explains. “This will save you a tremendous amount of time when you arrive. In order to walk through our stray kennels you must be 18 years or older and have a valid form of identification.”

For many people, nothing beats lounging in the backyard on the Fourth of July with good friends and family—including the four-legged members of the household. While it may seem like a great idea to reward Rover with scraps from the grill and bring him along to watch fireworks, some festive foods and products can be potentially hazardous to your pets. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals’ Animal Poison Control Center offers the following tips.

Never leave alcoholic drinks unattended where pets can reach them. Alcoholic beverages have the potential to poison pets. If ingested, the animal could become very intoxicated and weak, severely depressed or could go into a coma. Death from respiratory failure is also a possibility in severe cases.

Do not apply any sunscreen or insect repellent product to your pet that is not labeled specifically for use on animals. Ingestion of sunscreen products can result in drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, excessive thirst and lethargy. The misuse of insect repellent that contains DEET can lead to neurological problems.

Always keep matches and lighter fluid out of your pets’ reach. Certain types of matches contain chlorates, which could potentially damage blood cells and result in difficulty breathing – or even kidney disease in severe cases. Lighter fluid can be irritating to skin, and if ingested can produce gastrointestinal irritation and central nervous system depression. If lighter fluid is inhaled, aspiration pneumonia and breathing problems could develop.

Keep your pets on their normal diet. Any change, even for one meal, can give your pets severe indigestion and diarrhea. This is particularly true for older animals who have more delicate digestive systems and nutritional requirements. And keep in mind that foods such as onions, chocolate, coffee, avocado, grapes & raisins, salt and yeast dough can all be potentially toxic to companion animals.

Do not put glow jewelry on your pets, or allow them to play with it. While the luminescent substance contained in these products is not highly toxic, excessive drooling and gastrointestinal irritation could still result from ingestions, and intestinal blockage could occur from swallowing large pieces of the plastic containers.

Keep citronella candles, insect coils and oil products out of reach. Ingestions can produce stomach irritation and possibly even central nervous system depression. If inhaled, the oils could cause aspiration pneumonia in pets.

Never use fireworks around pets! While exposure to lit fireworks can potentially result in severe burns and/or trauma to the face and paws of curious pets, even unused fireworks can pose a danger. Many types contain potentially toxic substances, including potassium nitrate, arsenic and other heavy metals.

Loud, crowded fireworks displays are no fun for pets, so please resist the urge to take them to Independence Day festivities. Instead, keep your little guys safe from the noise in a quiet, sheltered and escape-proof area at home.

For more information on how to keep your pets safe this Fourth of July, visit

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