keep pets safe this firework season

Don’t let November go off with a bang: How to keep your pets safe this firework season!

For many people, wrapping up warm and heading out to a fireworks display is one of the highlights of autumn. But the unpredictable bangs and flashes can be at best confusing, and at worst, genuinely terrifying for our four-legged friends, with a PDSA survey highlighting that 4 in 10 dog owners and over a third of cat owners believe their pets to be afraid of fireworks.1 It’s horrible seeing our pets in distress, but there’s lots you can do to help your pet feel calmer and more secure this noisy November; read on for our top tips!


In the lead up to the fireworks: 
  • Make a den: Creating a safe, cosy space for your pet will give then somewhere familiar and comforting to retreat to if they’re feeling anxious. A puppy crate covered in blankets makes a great hideaway for your dog; make sure you keep the crate door open so that your pooch can come and go as he chooses. Our feline friends may prefer a high-up hiding place: a trusty cardboard box on its side, with a blanket partially covering the entrance and a snuggly bed inside will do the job perfectly! Pop in the occasional treat and your four-legged friend will soon learn to associate their new hideout with feeling secure and content.


  • Check your pet’s microchip details: All it takes is a forgotten open window or a chink in a garden fence for a frightened pet to escape, and in their distressed state they can quickly lose their bearings. If your pet doesn’t currently have a microchip, your vet practice can implant one in seconds, giving you the peace of mind that, should the unimaginable happen, your furry pal has the best chance of coming back home! Just make sure your contact details are up to date on the database linked to your pet’s microchip – your vet can help if you’re unsure how to do this.

keep your pets safe this firework season

  • Consider using pheromones: Synthetic pheromones mimic those that animals naturally produce to mark areas as safe and familiar, and used in your home they can help pets feel calmer and more relaxed. Available as plug-in diffusers, there are different versions available for dogs and cats; your vet practice can provide more information if you’re interested in giving these a try.


  • Speak to your vet: If your pet struggles more than most at this time of year, then your vet may be able to prescribe some short-term medication to help them relax. Visiting your vet practice has the added bonus that you can make sure your four-legged pal is in tip-top health, and up to date with their vaccinations and parasite treatment, too (the latter being especially important if you’re going to be snuggling up more on the couch with them in the coming weeks!). Your vet can recommend longer term strategies to help with firework phobias, too, but these are best started well in advance of November, more on this below!


During Firework season:
  • Daytime walks: Walk your pooch during daylight hours so they can be safely tucked up indoors once the fireworks start.
  • Keep pets inside: Your four-legged friend has no concept of where the sounds are coming from, and may instinctively try to flee in an attempt to escape the noise, so close doors, windows and cat flaps when you know local firework events are likely. Remember to pop down a litter tray for outdoors cats!
  • Muffle the noise: Closing the windows has the added bonus of lessening the intensity of the whooshes and bangs, and turning on the TV or radio can help mask the sounds a little, too.
  • Close the curtains: For some pets, the firework flashes are just as unsettling as the loud bangs, so blocking out the bursts of light can help.
  • Give them a treat: A pet-friendly treat or new toy can give your pet something to focus their attention on, helping divert their thoughts away from the strange explosions going on outside!
  • Stay calm! It’s natural to want to comfort our pets when they seem scared, but this can confirm their suspicions that there is something to worry about! Try to treat your pet as you normally would, speaking calmly and kindly but not overdoing the sympathy!
  • If your pet choses to hide…let them! Hiding is a completely normal response to feeling scared, and can help our furry pals feel safer. As long as they’re not in a dangerous spot, don’t try and coax them out, they will come out when they are ready!
keep your pets safe this firework season
Planning for future fireworks:

While it’s common (understandable, even!) for our four-legged friends to be scared of fireworks, there’s a world of difference between a pet that feels a little anxious, and one that is truly terrified. If, despite all your best efforts, your pet is still a trembling wreck at this time of year, you may need some extra support. 

Your vet is the best first port of call, and may suggest referring you to a pet behaviourist who can talk you through some strategies to help. Once such approach is called “sound therapy”, where pets listen to very quiet recordings of fireworks (or other sounds they find frightening). The sound volume is very slowly increased over time, and pets slowly learn that the sounds don’t pose a threat. This process takes time though, and can’t be rushed, so it’s best to start once firework season is over, in preparation for next year’s celebrations!

Fireworks may be the symbol of celebration for many of us, but for our pets, they can be a real source of stress. Taking steps to make sure your home is a safe haven for your pet can make a real difference, but if your four-legged friend is really struggling, don’t suffer in silence; your vet can support you and your pet to help you have a calmer firework season next year!




  1. PDSA Animal Wellbeing (PAW) Report 2018.