Pyro And Pets Don’t Mix


The sounds. The colors. The pageantry and beauty. It’s all what makes watching fireworks a timeless tradition.

While the spectacle is often enjoyed on a grand scale, especially on the Fourth of July, it can also create a traumatic experience for pet owners. Those same sounds and colors also create disturbances for pets.

“July is one of our biggest months of the year for stray animals, specifically around the days around the Fourth of July,” said Janna Haynes, Communications and Media Officer for the Bradshaw-based Sacramento County Animal Shelter.

In the immediate days before and after the holiday, shelters typically notice a spike in strays because of the use of fireworks. Pets become scared from the brightness and loud noises, even for those that normally would not run or get out of the yard.

“The number one thing we encourage is to make sure your pet is microchipped because if they do get out we can reunite you with them immediately,” Haynes said.

While this relates primarily to dogs, cats are also prone to being scared of fireworks, as are other small and large animals. Pet owners are encouraged to leave their pets with trusted sources, such as a kennel or family/friend, if leaving out of town for the holiday to ensure safe confines when fireworks are lit.

Here are some other helpful tips to ease stress for pets on the Fourth of July:

  • Make sure pets are microchipped and wearing identification tags
  • Keep them indoors
  • Never leave pets outside unattended, even in a fenced yard
  • Don’t take them to a fireworks show
  • Play music or leave television on to drown out firework noise
  • Consult with veterinarian prior to July 4 if pet is distressed by loud noises

“If your pet does happen to get out make sure to look at your local shelter,” said Haynes. “Our goal is reunification with the owner.”

Some shelters are waiving redemption fees around the Fourth of July due to an influx in strays. Click here for an entire list of animal shelters in California.

While fireworks can scare pets, they can also do significant harm to humans and property. Nearly 70 percent of firework-related injuries occur within a month of July 4. On average, seven people die each year due to fireworks and another 700 seek medical care.

All legal fireworks must have the State Fire Marshall’s seal.

Below are some additional suggestions on firework safety:

  • Use certified Safe and Sane fireworks
  • Always dispose of fireworks in the water bucket
  • Have a hose nearby in case of a fire
  • Avoid using fireworks near grass or flammable materials
  • Never attempt to relight fireworks


Additional resources


Sacramento County Animal Shelter

CAL FIRE Firework Safety


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