Tips to keep your pets safe during 4th of July

- While the flashes in the sky this holiday weekend will light up the faces of people celebrating the nation's birthday, they will also spark fear in dogs and other pets, as will the noise caused by fireworks.

"Our pet community is typically frightened by the sounds of this holiday, and that is perfectly understandable,'' said Marcia Mayeda, director of the Los Angeles County Department of Animal Care and Control.

The lights and loud booms can trigger a "fight or flight'' instinct, according to Mayeda, putting animals at risk to flee or bite out of fear. Many pets get lost on July 4, making it the busiest day of the year for the department, she said.

Mayeda and her colleagues have some helpful tips to keep pets safe this holiday so their owners can enjoy the festivities without worry. Here is what she suggests:

- Make sure a pet's license is current and that tags are securely affixed to the animal's collar.

- Microchip dogs and cats.

- Keep pets indoors in a cool, comfortable place with some "white noise'' distraction such as a radio or television.

- Don't keep pets in the backyard or tied up. Dogs, in particular, may panic and injure themselves on a rope or chain.

- Don't take pets to community fireworks events. Most events do not allow pets. The noise and other activities at these events can easily surprise and frighten animals.

- If leaving town for the weekend and pets aren't coming along for the trip, they should be left with someone who will be cautious and responsible during the celebrations.

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