As fun as this time of year can be for humans, it can be more difficult for our dogs and cats, who may experience stress and anxiety due to the loud and unfamiliar noises of fireworks and festivities.
Our guide will help you to prepare your home and your pets for firework season in advance.
Why are dogs scared of fireworks?
Our in-house vet, Martin, says: “Put yourself in your pet’s paws and just imagine how scary it must be to hear loud noises, and see bright flashes of light, whilst not having a clue as to what is going on”.
Dogs and cats may be scared of fireworks due to:
- The loud noises and bright lights
- Not understanding what is happening or why
- The unpredictability – even after the main displays are over, fireworks can be heard randomly throughout the evening and night
- The fear that the noises and lights pose a threat
- Feeling trapped or unable to run away from the noise
How to prepare your dog in advance
1. Escape proof your house and garden
Check your gates, fences, and boundaries to make sure everything is fully secure, and there are no escape routes.
2. Desensitise your dog to the sounds
Dogs Trust have some free downloadable sounds and tracks to help desensitise your dog to the noises they might hear. Start using these sounds as far in advance as possible – you can even do so all year round for maximum preparation.
3. Go for a walk in the daylight
Be sure to head out for your daily walk with your dog before the evening darkness rolls in. This will also ensure they will be tired post-walk and should feel more relaxed.
4. Feed your dog
It’s a good idea to ensure your dog eats before it gets loud and noisy outside. If they’re scared, they might not feel up to eating much.
5. Create a den or safe space
This can be anywhere your dog feels comfortable or safe. Make sure there are lots of things to make them feel at ease - teddies, cushions, blankets, and even you for some comfort.
6. Check microchip and tag details are up to date
This will save you time and stress if your dog gets lost or runs away - either during this time of year or at any time - as a microchip gives them the best chance of being returned to you quickly.
7. Check your pet insurance is up to date
Make sure you’re fully prepared if anything goes wrong this fireworks season. You may also want to check if you have Lost and Found cover included on your policy.
8. Consider the use of calming products
Calming plug-in diffusers, room sprays and treats can often help, or you could try a hoodie or jumper designed to go over your dog's ears (they'd need to get used to wearing these in advance!).
How to calm your dog during fireworks
- Once the fireworks have started, make sure you are close by to provide reassurance for your dog if they need it
- Give them all the comfort you can and try to stay in their line of sight if this is helpful for them
- Make sure you close your windows to keep the excess noise out as much as possible
- Keep your curtains and blinds closed to minimise the brightness or the flashing lights
- Try not to react to the fireworks when they are happening
- Keep them distracted or entertained, for example with play or by turning on the TV or playing music on the radio
- Encourage them to use their den. If they are settled there and seem comfortable, don’t try to tempt them out
Fireworks and dog anxiety
If you are still concerned about your dog, for example if they seem extremely distressed by the fireworks or they’re still anxious or unsettled after the fireworks have stopped, you may want to ask your vet for advice.
If you have pet insurance with us, don’t forget that you can speak to a qualified vet nurse at anytime with vetfone.
Your dog may feel anxious at other times aside from firework season, for example they may show signs of separation anxiety when you are not nearby.
Are cats OK with fireworks?
People often think of dogs first when it comes to pets being upset by fireworks, but cats can also be affected by the loud, sudden noises and bright lights.
Preparing in advance for the possibility of your cat being scared of fireworks can help to reassure them and manage their anxiety.
How to prepare your cat for fireworks
1. Bring your cat indoors
Before it gets dark, make sure your cat is inside the house before any fireworks or outside noise starts.
2. Prepare a litter tray
Your cat might not want to venture outside to use the toilet, so make sure there is a clean litter tray available for them to use and they’re litter trained in advance.
3. Get their favourite things ready
Make sure there are lots of things close by to make your cat feel at ease, such as their favourite toys, beds, cushions and blankets. You could also create a cosy nook or hiding place if they don’t already have one (making one from a cardboard box and some blankets is a quick and easy option!).
4. Check their microchip and tag details are up to date
Check that your cat's microchip and collar tag details are fully up to date (especially if you have recently moved house or changed phone numbers).
5. Check your pet insurance is up to date
Make sure you’re fully prepared if your cat is injured or becomes ill. You may also want to check if you have Lost and Found cover included on your policy.
Cats and fireworks anxiety
If your cat is unusually distressed or their anxiety doesn’t ease once the fireworks have ended, you may wish to consider talking to your vet for advice. If you have insurance with us, don’t forget our vetfone service is available to you 24/7.
Excessive stress or anxiety can have a long-term impact on your cat’s health, both mentally and physically.
Protect your pet with the right cover
We are often particularly aware of our pet’s health and emotional well-being at this time of year, when they are more likely to be stressed or anxious. Having the right pet insurance ensures you can have the peace of mind all year round that you are covered in the event of accident or illness, or if your dog or cat goes missing.
With a range of different types of pet insurance available, you can find the right cover for you and your pet(s).