Keep pets safe, happy this fourth of July
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By Mickey Zeldes  July 4, 2014 12:00 am

Happy July 4th – how are you celebrating? This has to be the most chaotic day of the year, at least for our pets. When else are there parades, barbeques and worst of all, fireworks? I try to imagine what the animals must be thinking when I hear the boom and pop of each explosion. It has to be incredibly frightening – the fact that not all our pets are hiding, shivering under the bed is amazing and shows the resilience of animals.

There are those, however, that literally will be so freaked out they will hurt themselves. Hopefully, if that is the case with your dog (more often dogs are like that than cats) you have already taken the precaution of getting a sedative from your veterinarian. It’s a little late now to be just thinking about it.

There are other things to try to keep our pets calm besides sedating them. I have a friend who uses a Thundershirt on her dog whenever they are going into a crowded place. She says it makes a real difference in helping her nervous dog keep it together. It’s like a big pressure hug, which seems to do wonders to calm the nervous system – something like it is used with autistic children, too.

Sometimes, just locking the animals in an interior room with the radio on to block some of the noise can be helpful. At least they are not likely to jump through the window or bolt out a door. They run out of fear to get away from the noise, but on this night the noise is everywhere. Shelters fill up with lost frightened animals so it’s especially important today that your pet has on his collar and tags and hopefully is micro-chipped.

When the Fourth of July is part of a weekend, expect the holiday to go on and on. You can’t let your guard down on Saturday or even Sunday, as we Americans do love our celebrations. While it’s not feasible to keep your dog tranquilized the whole weekend, you need to keep a close eye on him or her for signs of stress. There are herbal remedies that can be used to take the edge off as well – things like Rescue Remedy (available at any health food store) and Comfort Zone (a pheromone spray and collar sold at pet stores).

I find that if I can really tire my dogs out during the day, they seem to handle the fireworks at night better. We always try to go for a long hike or swim so that they are too worn out to care when the noise begins – at least that’s a nice theory, but I’m sure it helps a bit. Do you have any tricks that work well when your pets are scared? I’m curious to how many of you plan your holiday around keeping your dogs safe and skip the parties? To all you caring pet parents out there, I’ll wish you a safe and sane July 4th.


Upcoming events

• Kidz ‘n Critters Summer Camp is happening. There are still a few slots left for kids going into grades 2-7. Check out more information online at or by stopping by the shelter.


• No More Lost Pets: Free microchips and pet ID tags are available for residents of Rohnert Park and Cotati. Stop by the shelter during our open hours with your pet to get one. The shelter is open Wednesday 1-6:30 p.m., Thursday through Saturday 1-5:30 p.m. and Sun 1-4:30 p.m.


Mickey Zeldes is the supervisor at the Rohnert Park Animal Shelter. She can be contacted at

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