How To Keep Pets Safe & Happy During Fireworks
This page is reproduced from the RSPCA website here – https://www.rspca.org.uk/adviceandwelfare/pets/general/fireworks
Why are pets scared of fireworks?
Many animals find fireworks scary. It’s estimated that 45 percent of dogs in the UK show signs of fear when they hear fireworks. It doesn’t have to be that way though, so don’t ignore the problem.
There are lots of simple things you can do to help your pet deal with fireworks. By preparing in advance before fireworks start your pet will be better able to cope with the noises.
- Download our leaflet Fireworks frighten animals – Help them feel safe (PDF 608KB)
How to calm dogs during fireworks
- Walk them during daylight hours to avoid times when fireworks are likely to be set off
- Close windows and curtains to muffle the sound of fireworks
- Put on some music or tv to mask the firework sounds
- Create a quiet space where your dog can feel in control
- Create some hiding places around your home
Sound Therapy 4 Pets is a therapy pack available to teach your dogs to be less scared of loud noises.
Watch our top tips on keeping your pets safe and happy this fireworks season in our short three minute video. The video even includes how to build a ‘Doggy Safe Den’ !
- Provide hiding places in your home
- Cats can become more stressed if they’re outside during fireworks
- Microchip your cats in case they’re startled and escape outside
- Partly cover outside cages and pens with blankets so an area is soundproofed and hidden, but allow another area for the animals to look out
- Provide bedding small animals can burrow in
- Consider bringing them indoors – this will need to be done gradually so plan ahead
Keeping horses safe during fireworks
It’s not just animals in the home that can be scared of fireworks – horses can be too.
- If you have a horse out in a field, check locally to see if there are going to be any firework displays in your area that may affect them
- Where possible – tell the organisers of firework displays that horses are nearby and ask them to set off their fireworks in the opposite direction
- For top tips on keeping your horse safe and secure during the firework season – please follow the advice from the British Horse Society
How to treat firework phobia
Firework phobia is a treatable condition and animals don’t have to suffer such misery every year. Seek advice from your vet who will, if necessary, be able to refer you to a professional clinical animal behaviourist.
Acknowledgement for this information is made to Prof Daniel Mills. Read more about our Expert contributors.
Fear of Fireworks – For Dogs
Bonfire night can be worrying and stressful for our dogs. Fireworks at this time of year can go on for several weeks before and after 5th November and this stress can have serious implications for our pets, affecting both health and behaviour, especially if experienced over long periods of time. If your pet becomes stressed during firework season, the following advice may help you to make your pet feel more safe and secure.
Signs of Stress
- Refusing to eat
- Clinging to owner
- House soiling
- Digging / scratching
- Hiding in high places
How to Help Your Dog
Exercise your dog before it gets dark in order to reduce the risk of experiencing firework whilst you are out. If this is not possible, try walking your dog in the morning and playing indoor stimulation games in the evening instead. If your dog becomes a little jumpy at this time of year it is a good idea to exercise your dog on a recall lead so that you have safe control of your dog in case it decides to run away.
Close all windows, vents, curtains and connecting doors in the house to help drown out the sights and sounds of fireworks. Put some background noise on, such as the TV or radio. Playing music with a strong beat can reduce your dog’s worry over loud or unpredictable bangs from fireworks. Allow your dog to rest where it feels the safest. This may be under your bed, under the table, or under your legs. Placing your dog’s bed in this safe place will comfort them. If you are not sure where your dog’s safe place is, you can try creating a den for your dog instead. Dog crates are a great way to do this, covering the crate with a duvet or thick sheet will help to drown out the noise of the fireworks.
Do not leave your dog at home alone on bonfire night. They will always feel more relaxed and secure with you around. It can be hard to see our dogs in distress at this time of year, and it can cause a lot of worry. If you can, try to stay nice and relaxed on bonfire night. Dogs are very in-tune with our emotions, and if we appear worried and anxious, this may make things worse for them.
If your dog does become distressed, do comfort and love them! Don’t worry; it’s not possible to reinforce the emotion of fear. Comfort and reassurance can help your dog feel better. The motion of licking and chewing can also help to relax dogs, try giving your dog a Kong packed with something they find tasty and rewarding, or a chew they enjoy.
Adaptil has been designed to help alleviate stress and anxiety. This special scent (odourless to people and other animals) that Adaptil utilises is a replication of the pheromone that the dog leave naturally when they are feeling comfortable in their environment.
If you are concerned about the degree of anxiety your dog shows during the bonfire season, speak to a Veterinary Surgeon or Veterinary Nurse about anxiety treatment. Behavioural therapy can also help to teach your dog to cope with the unpredictability of fireworks, speak to a member of staff who can recommend a behaviourist for you.
Fear of Fireworks – For Cats
Bonfire night can be worrying and stressful for our cats. Fireworks at this time of year can go on for several weeks before and this stress can have serious implications for our pets, affecting both health and behaviour. If your pet becomes stressed during firework season, the following advice may help you to make your pet feel more safe and secure.
Signs of Stress
- Hiding in high places
- Hiding in dark places
- Running away
- Soiling in the house
- Refusing to eat
- Increased aggression
How to Help Your Cat
- If your cat enjoys going outside, make sure they are back indoors before dark. This is for their safety. The unpredictable nature of fireworks could mean one landing in a tree your cat is has climbed, or flying sparks could injure them.
- Put some background noise on, such as the TV or radio. Background noise can reduce your cat’s worry over loud and unpredictable bangs from fireworks.
- Allow your cat to rest where it feels safe. This may be under your bed, under the table, down the side of the sofa. Putting your cat’s bed here will make it more comfortable for them.
- Close all windows, cat flaps, curtains and connecting doors in the house to help drown out the sights and sounds of fireworks.
- Don’t pick up or restrain your cat if they appear stressed. Cats appreciate a quiet space to deal with their stress on their own. However If your cat does come to you for comfort and reassurance, it is fine to give them this.
- Do not leave your cat at home alone on bonfire night. They will feel more relaxed and secure with you around.
- During the bonfire season your cat may be less inclined to go outside. You may need to introduce a litter tray into the house.
- Feliway has been designed to help alleviate stress and anxiety. This special scent that Feliway utilises is a replication of the pheromone that cats leave naturally when they are feeling comfortable in their environment.
If you are concerned about the degree of anxiety your cat shows during the bonfire season, speak to a Veterinary Surgeon or Veterinary Nurse about anxiety treatment.
Fear of Fireworks – For Rabbits
Signs of Stress
- Stamping feet
- Staying motionless
- Trying to escape
- Loss of appetite
How to Help Your Rabbit
- If your rabbit hutch is outdoors, try moving it inside the house or into the garage or conservatory.
- If you are unable to move the hutch indoors, place the hutch so it is facing a wall or fence and cover with a duvet to help drown out the noise and lights.
- If your rabbit lives indoors, try to drown out the fireworks with background noise such as the radio or TV.
- Close all the windows, curtains and internal doors.
- Make sure your rabbit has somewhere safe to hide.
- Adding extra straw or hay in the hutch for your rabbit to burrow in helps to make them feel safe. Alternatively, an up turned cardboard box with an entrance cut out and some bedding inside will create a really secure den for your rabbit.
- Check on your rabbit regularly, and if you notice any signs of stress then contact your vet for advice.
- Ensure you keep rabbits together with their companion, this will help to limit their stress
If you have any concerns during the bonfire season please speak to Veterinary Nurse or Veterinary Surgeon.