Fireworks can be the cause of a lot of stress for our furry friends. Planning and following our top tips, can help firework fears become less stressful for all involved. 

For our canine companions: 

It is important to remember to walk your dog during daylight hours, at a time when it is unlikely fireworks will be set off. There is a risk a frightened dog may run off if startled on a walk by the noise of fireworks. It is also important to keep your pets microchip details up to date for this reason.  

Creating a safe and quiet space for your dog can be a welcome distraction. Some dogs are already crate trained, where they have their own den for comfort and space. Make sure you only ever associate this space with positivity, never use it for punishment. Use this space by placing it in the quietest room in your house, cover with blankets to muffle any noises or flashing lights from fireworks.  

You can keep your pet occupied with their favourite toys, a stuffed Kong or similar. Always keep the crate door open, your dog needs to feel they can hide where they feel the safest and that may not always be the place you set up for them. So, give them plenty of hiding spots, without keeping them confined to one room, but ensure there is no way they can escape out of the house as this may leave them in danger. 

Once it goes dark, close windows and curtains, play the radio or TV; these will help to muffle the noise and lights of fireworks. Remember to ignore the noises of fireworks yourself and never punish your pet when or if they become scared.  

There are many calming aids which can help you and your pet get through the colder months when fireworks use is at their height.  

  • Adaptil diffuser, sprays and collars release a synthetic calming pheromone to help relax your pet.  
  • Zylkene and Yucalm are good examples of complimentary natural calming treatments you can give by mouth daily to your pet, to help reduce anxiety and stress. Adaptil Express stress relief tablets can be administered as little as 2 hours before the required effect. 
  • There are also hugging vests such as Thundershirts. These wearable vests give your pet the feeling of a comforting hug, like swaddling an infant the shirt applies gentle and constant pressure to calm all types of anxiety, fear and over-excitement issues. Some dogs will respond well to one or a combination of the aids above, but if your pet has severe trouble, speaking to your Vet about a behavioural referral might be worth-while.  

For our Feline friends: 

Keeping cats indoors during the dark hours is advisable during the time fireworks are likely to be set off. For cats that spend most of their time outdoors, remember to plan with the availability of litter trays. It is also important to monitor your cat is passing urine and faeces as normal in these circumstances, as outdoor cats kept indoors can cause further stress.  

Cats can become quite skittish if alarmed so for their own safety, keep indoors and ensure cat flaps etc are locked so they cannot escape outside and onto a road if spooked. Give them plenty of hiding spots, place cardboard boxes with a blanket in in quiet areas of your home. If your cat prefers to hide under the bed for example, leave them be. Trying to control where they hide will cause more stress, so do not confine them to one room allow them to choose where they feel the safest. Keep windows and curtains closed once the sun has set, and ensure your pet is microchipped with details up to date, just in case. There are many complimentary calming aids available for cats such as: 

  • Feliway diffusers and sprays, they release a calming pheromone to help relax and calm your cat. Remember to use the diffusers in an area they spend most time in and away from radiators. Sprays can be used on bedding or scratching towers where they spend their time. 
  •  Zylkene and Yucalm are good examples of natural calming agents given daily by mouth or in food and can be used alone or in conjunction with another mode of calming such as Feliway.  

For our outdoor small furries: 

If you plan to bring your rabbits or guinea pigs indoors for bonfire night, this needs to be done gradually. They need time to be familiar with their surroundings so for this, you must plan by spending time with them indoors. For outdoor hutches etc, use a thick blanket to cover a portion of the space so its dark and helps to muffle the noises, but keep an area uncovered so they can see out. Give them extra bedding to allow them to burrow and feel safe.  

Start thinking about how you will help your pet stay calm and relaxed this firework season, so you can introduce necessary training or calming aids now. You may need to have these in place ready for the Christmas and New Year period, as we all know, the winter months can be an unpredictable time with at home firework displays.  

Written by Chrissie McLoughlin RVN