Fireworks exploding in the night sky

Imagine you’re in your living room, with a nice cup of tea and your feet up. Then, without any warning, a large explosion rattles the walls. You’d probably dive on the floor, shake uncontrollably or run for your life, right?

That’s pretty much what our pets have to suffer every Guy Fawkes Night and New Year’s Eve. Except with their heightened senses, everything can become very overwhelming.

These loud sounds trigger our pet’s nervous systems, making them anxious and afraid. Running away is a survival instinct to escape the loud bangs and whistles that can physically hurt their ears.

Read on to see what you can do to make the evenings easier for your animals…

You can give your pet a cuddle if you think that’s what they need, but give them space if that’s what they want

Dogs and cats

  • Firstly, always keep dogs and cats inside when fireworks are being let off.
  • Walk your dog earlier in the day, before the fireworks begin.
  • Close windows and doors, and block cat flaps, to stop any frantic getaways which could put your pet in danger.
  • Make sure your dog is wearing a form of identification or has been microchipped, so it can be returned quickly if it escapes.
  • If your animals are used to the sounds of the TV or radio, then keep these devices on so they have some familiar sounds.
  • If your pet starts meowing or whining, that’s okay. Let them hide in the corner if they want to. They’re just trying to find safety, so don’t disturb them.
  • You can give them a cuddle if you think that’s what they need, but give them space if that’s what they want.
  • You should stay with your pet if possible, but if you have to leave the house don’t get angry if they’ve been destructive or made a mess on the floor when you return.
  • It is never a good idea to take your pet to a fireworks display. The crowds can be terrifying enough, and that’s before the big bangs. Don’t just look out for whimpering, if your dog is panting or yawning, it could be stressed.

Black Labrador sitting underneath some clothes looking concerned

Black Labrador sitting underneath some clothes looking concerned

Tabby cat hiding underneath a bed on a wooden floor

Tabby cat hiding underneath a bed on a wooden floor

Small pets

It’s not just dogs and cats that need special care when fireworks are around. All your little creatures need a bit of extra TLC too.

Rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, gerbils, mice and birds are all easily frightened, so consider these precautions:

  • If possible, take hutches/cages into a quiet room, garage or shed.
  • If it’s not possible to carry the hutch inside, then you should turn the enclosure round to face a wall instead of the open garden.
  • Cover any cages or hutches with a thick blanket or duvet to block out flashing lights fireworks and some of the sound (but make sure there’s enough ventilation).
  • Give your pet a bit of extra bedding, so they can burrow themselves into it to feel safe.

Firework laws

Just some notes on general safety:

  • It’s illegal for anyone under 18 to possess a firework in a public place.
  • Fireworks must not be set off between 11pm and 7am – except on special nights of the year.
  • Unless retailers have a special licence, they are only allowed to sell fireworks from 15 October – 10 November and 26-31 December, and three days before Diwali and Chinese New Year.
  • Always keep children a safe distance away from fireworks.

If you’re still worried about your pet, you can always chat to your vet for behavioural advice. Sometimes medication can be prescribed if your animal’s reactions are extreme.

Need more info? Check out this handy infographic from the RSPCA:

Advice for pet owners during the fireworks season Infographic - RSPCA