CONTRA COSTA COUNTY, CA (June 30, 2022) —When I was a teen, my family dog cowered in the basement every 4th of July. Whiskey wouldn’t come upstairs for any amount of coaxing.
We would bring his food and water to him, but didn’t think his fears could lead to serious problems.
Then one year we traveled to my grandparents home to watch the big fireworks show in Spokane. We had left our dog in the enclosed back porch with access to the yard, and asked a neighbor to feed him that night. Returning home the next day we found Whiskey lying dead in the back yard. I believe that the stress of being alone while neighbors fired off firecrackers and whistling Pete’s caused our pet’s death.
Forty years later we understand more about how stressful fireworks can be to dogs and other pets. More pets end up in shelters after running away from their homes during the 4th of July than any other time of the year.
Safe and calm
Take some time, this year, to keep your dog safe and calm during the holiday.
Exercise. Make time in your schedule to give your an extra long workout before the fireworks begin. Tired dogs are calmer and easier to keep quiet. They will also sleep more deeply, and consequently, will be less likely to be disturbed by the noise outside.
Stay home. Not everyone can stay at home on the 4th, but your presence will provide reassurance to your pet. If you have a a new dog in the home, this is especially important, as they already have stress of being in a new environment.
Drown out the noise. You can turn up the stereo or television to hide the sound of scary fireworks outside. Also, keep your windows closed during the fireworks. Anything that can provide background noise, like a fan or air conditioner can help as well.
Respect their fear. Allow your dog to hide if it feels more comfortable in its crate or under a bed. Don’t pull it out or try to force it closer to the fireworks in an attempt to get them used to the sounds. Keep curtains closed if there might be flashes visible from your home.
Provide distractions. You can help your pet with extra cuddles or playing games with them. Give them a good chew toy, treats or maybe a peanut butter filled Kong to focus on.
Be prepared. Just in case your dog runs away, make sure it has ID tags with its name, your name, and your phone number. Get your dog microchipped if it doesn’t have one.
And finally, remember that all fireworks, even the so-called safe and sane versions are illegal in Contra Costa County. CON FIRE provides a toll-free hotline for use by residents to immediately reach their local law enforcement non-emergency phone lines to report illegal fireworks use in their areas. The illegal fireworks reporting phone number is 1-833-885-2021.