The RSPCA estimates that 45 per cent of dogs in the UK show signs of fear when they hear fireworks. The problem only gets worse if ignored, so owners should seek help as soon as it manifests itself. Firework phobia is treatable and animals don’t have to suffer.
If you have a new dog, read our guide to settling a new dog into your home.
Keeping cats and dogs secure
The RSPCA says:
- Make sure your dog or cat always has somewhere to hide if he or she wants to and has access to this place at all times.
- During firework season, walk dogs during daylight hours and keep cats and dogs indoors when fireworks are likely to be set off.
- At nightfall close windows and curtains and put on music to mask and muffle the sound of fireworks.
- If your pet shows any signs of fear, try to ignore their behaviour. Leave them alone unless they are likely to harm themselves.
- Never punish or fuss over your pet when it's scared as this will only make things worse in the long run.
- Make sure your cat or dog is always kept in a safe and secure environment and can’t escape if there’s a sudden noise. Have your pet microchipped in case they do escape.
The RSPCA has a free downloadable leaflet which advises pet owners how to cope with fireworks.
Extra advice for dogs
Close any windows and black out a doggy play area, so your dog can’t see the flashing lights. Before fireworks begin, move your dog to this area along with their favourite toys.
Ignore the fireworks yourself. Play with a toy to see if your dogs wants to join in but don’t force them. If your dog has a four-legged friend that isn’t scared of fireworks, keep them together, as this may bring them comfort.
Extra advice for cats
Make sure your cat has somewhere to hide if he/she wants to - under furniture, say, or in a cupboard or wardrobe. Don’t try and tempt your cat out or comfort your cat or pick him up or restrain him. Fearful cats prefer to be left to cope on their own or they will become more stressed.
Provide your cat with a litter tray during the firework season to avoid them going outside when fireworks might be going off.
Assisting small animals
If your pets live outside, partly cover cages, pens and aviaries with blankets so that one area is well sound-proofed. Make sure your pet is still able to look out.
Provide lots of extra bedding, so your pet has something to burrow in.
What the experts prescribe
Your vet may refer you to an animal behaviourist or prescribe pheromone diffusers, which send calming chemicals into the room. In extreme cases, vets may prescribe medication that sedates the animal.
One alternative is the ‘Sounds Scary’ therapy pack, pioneered by vets Sarah Heath and Jon Bowen who specialise in pet behavioural therapy. Sounds Scary is not only backed by years of clinical experience, it is also scientifically proven to be safe, effective and easy to use.
Another solution is to fit a Beaphar Calming Collar, designed to keep cats and dogs feeling at ease during firework displays and reduce unwanted problem behaviour. Over 30 days the collar releases a pheromone which helps calm cats and dogs in a natural ways. Beaphar Serenity Tablets are another option. See Beaphar's website for more information.
Travelling with your pet? Read our tips for travelling in the car with your dog.