It’s hard for me to enjoy this holiday anymore, knowing how many animals will be lost and frightened from all the activities going on around the 4th of July. I had to pull together some statistics this year about our intakes during the week of July 4th and the numbers were startling! Once you’ve seen the panic on an animal’s face when they think their world is ending, you can never see the fireworks in the same way again.
Between the heat, crowds and noise many animals have a tough time during this holiday. Safe to say I don’t think they would miss a ban on firecrackers at all. At least then we would only have the one night of fireworks to worry about preparing for instead of weeks of random loud bursts. FYI – Rohnert Park Dept. of Public Safety is coming down hard this year on illegal fireworks. You are looking at a fine of $1000 if caught – no warning first! You’ll notice too that this year the sale of even the legal “safe and sane” fireworks has been shortened to just three days.
If you have a pet that is scared of noises, now is the time to gather your survival strategies. If necessary, make an appointment with your vet for tranquilizers. Although they don’t do much to actually alleviate the fear, they certainly can help a dog cope and, hopefully, just sleep through the craziness. Short of pharmaceuticals there are several other options to help your pets handle their fear and to keep them safe.
First and most important is to leave your pet at home. I cringe when I see dogs at the parades, street fairs and especially at the fireworks. Keeping them safe at home, with the shades drawn and music playing to deafen some of the outside noise greatly reduces the chances of a lost dog. This is one day that you will want to even bring your normally outside cat indoors (or at least into the garage – one never knows where a stray firecracker will end up). And please make sure all your pets have current ID tags and microchips, just in case they slip away and do become lost. We do FREE microchips and ID tags for residents of Rohnert Park and the City of Cotati, so you have no excuse!
Really over-exercising your dog early that day can help take the edge off their frayed nerves. Be conscious of the heat, of course, to not overdo it – but if they are tired enough, they will just sleep through the noise of the night. You might add a little something to take the edge off their fear. Most health food stores sell Rescue Remedy. It is a Bach flower potion that is used for stress – by humans and other animals. You can put a drop in their drinking water or directly on their tongue or spritz it in their face.
Another calming product out is called D.A.P. (dog appeasing pheromone). You can get it in a plug-in diffuser, a spray, or a collar. It is available at many pet stores and through most pet catalogs under the name Comfort Zone. There is a version for nervous cats, too (often used for spraying problems) called Feliway.
With a little preparation and awareness both you and your pets should be able to manage through this festive weekend sanely. Pass the advice on to your pet-owning friends and let’s all have a safe holiday.
“Get Them Back Home” Campaign – Every lost pet should have a way to get back home. FREE pet ID tag and a back-up microchip are available to all residents of Rohnert Park and Cotati. No appointment necessary, just come by the shelter during our regular open hours: Wed 1-6:30; Thurs.-Fri.-Sat. 1-5:30; Sun. 1-4:30.
Fix-it Clinics – Free spay and neuters for cats; and $60 dog surgeries (up to 80 lbs.) for low-income Rohnert Park and Cotati residents. Call 588-3531 for an appointment.
Mickey Zeldes is the supervisor at the Rohnert Park Animal Shelter. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.