Dogtown: Take precautions with pets on Independence Day

Next week is the Fourth of July. While many humans find this holiday to be a lot of fun, most animals are not such big fans.

Not surprisingly, the Fifth of July is one of the busiest days of the year at animal shelters as owners pick up animals that have been scared by the noise and commotion.

I don’t have any statistics from veterinarians, but I’d be willing to bet the Fourth of July is busy for them also. Here are a few tips to keep your pets safe over the holiday.

There are ways to prepare in advance of the actual day. Make sure that your pets have ID tags with current information. Microchipping is available at your vet or at the Sequoia Humane Society. Talk to your veterinarian if you know that your pet tends to freak out at the fireworks. For some animals the best thing to do is sedate them and let them wake up happy the next day.

When festivities start, keep your pets securely inside. Indoors is the safest place for your dogs and cats when there are fireworks or other loud and scary noises. Even pets that are used to being outside may find ways out of their yards when scared. Ending up at the shelter is just one possible outcome for a fleeing pet; no one wants dogs or cats to get hit by cars or hurt in any way.

Fireworks and matches can be toxic to pets so make sure all the garbage gets swept up and disposed of right away. Other potential dangers to pets include alcohol, kebab skewers, lighter fluid, plus chocolate, grapes and other foods that partiers might be tempted to share.

At our house we practice acknowledging the scary noises – “Yep, that was a loud one” – without a lot of petting or consoling. Granted this does not work for everyone, but many dogs to seem to be reassured when their human is calm. It’s worth adding to your repertoire of Fourth of July crisis management. It can be helpful in a variety of situations where dogs are spooked and is the opposite of holding them tight and saying “It’s OK,” which can reinforce fearful behavior.


Here’s a big calm dog that Redwood Pals is working with. Otis is a 2-year-old German Shepherd type mutt. He is a very nice dog with some training on board. He already knows sit, down and shake and walks easily on the leash. In addition he is quite friendly and patient with other dogs. He is a larger dog, probably around 65 to 70 pounds with a medium length soft coat.

Otis did not pass the shelter’s test for food aggression, which involves a prosthetic hand in the test bowl of food, but has consistently shown good manners in his regular encounters with food. In fact, he is not particularly food motivated and is happy to show his tricks for the simple reward of a pat on the head. Shelter staff said that he responded quickly to being corrected about the fake hand, but that is one of their tests and technically he failed it.

Redwood Pals takes safety issues seriously and would not recommend this dog if we thought there was a problem. We do our own tests under trainer advice to be on the safe side, Some dogs just don’t show their best selves under shelter conditions. Our shy Junebug from last week has already found a great home and is happy and playful out of the shelter!

If you would like to meet this mellow dog, please contact us at [email protected] or call (707) 839-9692. Otis will be neutered, vaccinated and microchipped by adoption.

Have a safe and happy Fourth of July!


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