Independence Day fireworks shows are a time of excitement for humans but the events can be extremely stressful for pets and local experts are warning pet owners to take precautions before the celebrations begin.

Many pet owners make assumptions about their animals’ ability to handle fireworks due to past experiences with thunder or other loud noises but experts said fireworks have additional ways to make animals uncomfortable.

“Many dogs are sensitive to loud noises such as banging,” said Andrea Servadio of Fitdog Sports Club. “Some pet correction techniques (like the Pet Corrector) focus on using loud, sharp noises to prevent unwanted behavior. Fireworks are not only loud and booming like lightening, but also come in rapid succession which can cause dogs severe anxiety. Some dogs are so afraid that they will jump through a window, climb a six foot fence or even run through a screened door in an attempt to get away from the noise.”

Servadio said products are available to help calm dogs, like vests that apply pressure to the animal’s body, and that pet owners should make sure their animals are in a safe, secure location from which they can’t escape.

“It’s important to create a safety zone for your dog,” she said. “This is a place that your dog can not escape such as a bedroom, crate or bathroom. Make sure all exits are securely closed.”

Kim Salerno, President & Founder of TripsWithPets.com, said cars are never a good place to keep dogs during fireworks and said pet owners should take steps to prepare a room at home prior to fireworks shows starting.

“Keep your pets in your home in a comfortable and quiet area with the shades drawn,” she said. “If your pet is crate trained, then their crate is a great choice. Some animals can become destructive when frightened, so be sure that you’ve removed any items that your pet could destroy or that would be harmful to your pet if chewed. Leave a television or radio playing at normal volume to keep your pet company while you’re attending Fourth of July picnics, parades, and other celebrations.”

Servadio said keeping pets secure is critical to their safety.

“The most common mistake is when people have a 4th of July party and forget to secure their dog in a safe place. The front or back door is constantly opening and closing as people are coming and going providing your dog with many opportunities to get loose,” said Servadio. “Another mistake is not having your dog’s tags on during this period of time. If your dog does escape, you want to make sure he or she is properly ID’d so you can find them quickly.”

Salerno said animals that are found on the loose should be taken to the authorities. “Animals found running at-large should be taken to the local animal shelter, where they will have the best chance of being reunited with their owners,” she said.

The Santa Monica Animal Shelter is located at 1640 Ninth Street and can be contacted at (310) 458-8594, or via e-mail at shelter@smgov.net. The Animal Shelter is open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday. The Animal Shelter is closed on Sunday and Monday. Information regarding found pets, lost pets and adoptable animals may be found at www.petharbor.com. According to the shelter, animals are held at the shelter for five days before becoming available for adoption but animals with appropriate identification are held for 10 days to allow for extra time to contact owners.

Servadio said pet owners should monitor their animals for signs of a problems during July 4. “Dogs, like people, react to stress in different ways,” she said. “Some examples of stress related symptoms include stress panting (rapid panting), drooling or foaming at the mouth, shaking, hiding, bolting in random directions (trying to find a place to get out), and pawing at you. In general, when dogs are fearful their tails are tucked under, their ears are folded backwards and they are usually in a crouched position.”

Salerno said owners should also be aware of their pet’s preferences for handling stress. “If your pet seeks comfort in a bath tub, under a bed or other small space … let them. Do not try to lure them out,” she said. “If the space is safe and it makes them feel more secure, let them be.”

matt@smdp.com

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