Why are pets scared of fireworks?

Wednesday, 23rd October 2019

MANY animals find fireworks scary. It’s estimated that 45 per cent of dogs in the UK show signs of fear when they hear fireworks.

It doesn’t have to be that way though, so don’t ignore the problem.

With help from the RSPCA and the Dogs Trust, we are bringing you some of the of simple things you can do to help your pet deal with fireworks.

By preparing in advance before fireworks start your pet will be better able to cope with the noises.

How to calm dogs during fireworks

  • Avoid walking the dogs at night. When fireworks are more likely to be set off try morning or afternoons instead
  • Maintain your routine. Try to keep all other routines as normal as possible such as feeding time.
  • Try to mask the sound. Close the windows and curtains to muffle the sound and turn on the radio or TV especially if they are home alone
  • Stay calm yourself. Do not react to fireworks that go off, they will react to your actions. Try not to worry and don’t get angry with your pet or equally do not over fuss them, just reassure them and try to be as normal and maintain routine where possible.
  • Provide a den. Create an enclosed ‘safe space’ for your pet to hide; a quiet space where your dog can feel in control. Cover the top and 3 sides of a crate or table near the centre of your home. Make it comfortable and let them come and go as they like. You can even add one of your jumpers or an item of clothing that will smell familiar, especially If you are out.

A therapy pack is available to teach your dogs to be less scared of loud noises. This can be found on the Dogs Trust website here: Sound Therapy 4 Pets.

Watch tips from the RSPCA on keeping your pets safe and happy this fireworks season in their short three-minute video. The video even includes how to build a ‘Doggy Safe Den’!

Keeping Cats safe during fireworks

  • Provide hiding places in your home
  • Cats can become more stressed if they’re outside during fireworks
  • Microchip your cats in case they’re startled and escape outside
  • Partly cover outside cages and pens with blankets so an area is soundproofed and hidden, but allow another area for the animals to look out
  • Provide bedding small animals can burrow in
  • Consider bringing them indoors – this will need to be done gradually so plan ahead

How to treat firework phobia

Firework phobia is a treatable condition and animals don’t have to suffer such misery every year. Seek advice from your vet who will, if necessary, be able to refer you to a professional clinical animal behaviourist.

READ MORE: Traders reminded of fireworks sales safety

The Legislation for Fireworks

The Fireworks Regulations 2004 are designed to tackle the anti-social use of fireworks. Since January 2005 the sale of fireworks to the public is prohibited, except licensed traders. However, they can be sold by unlicensed traders for:

  • Chinese New Year and the preceding three days,
  • Diwali and the proceeding three days,
  • Bonfire Night celebrations (15 October to 10 November), and
  • New Year celebrations (26 to 31 December).

Under the 2004 Regulations, it is an offence to use fireworks after 11 pm and before 7 am without permission (except on permitted nights when the times are extended).

There are various categories of fireworks. Category F1 present a very low hazard and are intended for use in confined areas, including inside domestic buildings. Categories F2 and F3 are on general sale to the public but only category F2 are intended for outdoor use in confined areas (such as a small garden).

Under the Pyrotechnic Articles (Safety) Regulations 2015, a retailer must not sell category F1 to anyone under the age of 16. Category F2 and F3 must not be sold to anyone under 18. The most powerful F4 category (display fireworks) must not be sold to members of the public; they can only be supplied to a person with specialist knowledge. These measures are specifically designed to promote consumer safety.

Acknowledgement for this information is made to Prof Daniel Mills. Read more about the RSPCA’s Expert contributors.