Fireworks: How to keep your pets calm

Scared Dog

Vets are urging owners to take steps to minimise distress for their pets ahead of traditional fireworks dates such as Halloween, Bonfire Night, Diwali and New Year’s Eve.

There are particular concerns this year that there may be an increase in unregulated backyard fireworks as official displays are limited by Covid-19 restrictions.

Signs of fireworks-related distress can vary from animal to animal. In dogs it may take the form of barking, panting, drooling and attempts to escape, while cats often hide.

Cat hiding

What can owners do to help?

  • Walk your dog before it gets dark, and keep your cat indoors.

  • Create a cosy den for your pet to hide in when fireworks start.

  • To help mask the fireworks, close windows and curtains and turn on the TV or radio to provide background noise.

  • Let your pet hide if they want to, and don’t make them come out of their safe space if they want to stay there.

  • Give comfort if your pet seeks reassurance, and remember that if you stay calm, they will be much more likely to stay calm too.

  • You can also buy pheromone sprays and diffusers that have a calming effect on dogs and cats, and your vet can prescribe drugs to help dogs with noise phobias.

“The loud noises and bright flashes from fireworks can be extremely traumatic for animals, from dogs, cats and rabbits to livestock, horses, wildlife and zoo animals,” said Daniella Dos Santos, senior vice president of the British Veterinary Association. “While Covid-19 restrictions may lead to the cancellation of official displays, we are worried about a rise in the number of backyard celebrations.”

She added: “Even if you don’t expect your pet to be anxious please consider staying close at hand on the noisiest evenings, providing background noise when fireworks are going off and, most importantly, staying calm yourself so your animal is reassured.”

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