The sound and sight of fireworks is sudden and can scare cats. Our experts have provided top tips to help keep your cat safe, calm and relaxed during fireworks, and avoid them getting scared.
Keep your cat indoors at night time during fireworks
Even if you are not having fireworks yourself, you cannot predict if others in your neighbourhood might be. Keeping your cat indoors will avoid them being caught out when fireworks start. When keeping cats indoors be sure to provide litter trays for them.
Escape-proof your house
Close all doors, windows and block off cat flaps to stop your cat escaping outside during fireworks. Cats can squeeze into surprisingly tight spots, so block off any dangerous or unsuitable areas they may go into.
Create a safe hiding place
If your cat normally hides in a specific place, make sure they have access and encourage them to use the space with treats and toys. A box lined with blankets and with the opening slightly covered is ideal. They will feel safer the higher up they can go, so placing the box on a top shelf or cupboard will help, ensuring it’s safe.
Do not shut them in a confined area
It is very important not to shut your cat in a confined area as they could injure themselves trying to escape. Allow access to all safe areas of the house.
Cover the windows
It isn’t only the sound of fireworks that worries cats; the flashes can upset them too. It is important to cover windows and draw the curtains to block out any sudden bursts of light.
Turn on the radio
To reduce the impact of the sudden sound of fireworks, keep a radio or television on.
Act normal around your cat
Cats are very perceptive and if they notice you’re behaving unusually (like following them around or being overly affectionate) they’ll sense something is up. If they see that the fireworks have no effect on you, this may help decrease their anxiety.
Avoid picking them up
If your cat is distressed avoid trying to interact with them or picking them up as increased stress levels can provoke sudden aggression. Cats also take a long time to calm down, so leave them until morning to settle before interacting with them again.
Buy them a treat
Wherever your cat decides to settle for the night, a new toy or treats can be a great distraction from the noise. There are also products on the market that can help cats to cope with stressful events.
Make sure your cat’s microchip is up to date
Cats flee if they are scared. Make sure your cat can be identified should they run away by ensuring they are microchipped and the details contained are up to date. They should also wear an engraved tag on an easy-release collar.
If your cat is still stressed from fireworks
If your cat still suffers from anxiety during fireworks it’s best to seek advice from a cat behaviourist as soon as possible. Do not wait until near the event as desensitising your pet to noises and flashes can take some time.
Information on cat behaviourists and how to prepare for a visit
Read about the basic strategies your cat will use to protect themselves in times of anxiety
WANT MORE ADVICE?
Spare a minute to sign up and receive Battersea emails so that you can get all the latest tips and tricks from our animal experts.
Loud, random noises, like fireworks, can understandably be scary and bewildering for your cat, especially as they don’t happen every day. Discover some helpful tips that will help your long weekend celebration with fireworks go more smoothly for your kitty.
Before the Fireworks
Acclimatise your cat to noise
When it comes to a nervous cat, fireworks can be quite stressful. If you cat has a particular problem with loud noises, you might ask a pet behaviourist for help. If you can acclimatise a cat to firework noises when they’re a kitten, they’ll grow up knowing it’s nothing to worry about. You might also consider putting downloading some sounds of loud firework noises, so the big event doesn’t come as too much of a surprise!
Keep your cat in after nightfall
If your cat has access to the outdoors, make sure they’re in before it gets dark and then shut the cat flap and close the windows. Even if you’re not having a fireworks party yourself, your neighbours might be, and fearful or stressed cats can easily run away and get lost or injured. Unfortunately, the number of missing cats goes up by about a third. This is probably because cats are more likely to be frightened by loud noises and other unusual events during this time, and will bolt, hide somewhere unusual, or become lost. With this in mind it’s also a good idea to make sure they’re microchipped.
During the Fireworks
Draw the curtains to disguise colourful flashes, and close the windows to make it as quiet as possible. Noise indoors, such as the radio or TV – whatever you cat might be used to – will make the noise outside less obvious, and hopefully help to calm your cat.
Distract your cat
Use toys and games to distract your cat. Fireworks may be scary,but if their concentration is elsewhere, they’re more likely to be acclimatised to the noise. If these toys don’t seem to be working, break out the catnip, treats and laser pens!
As long as you’ve done your best to keep your cat calm and happy during the firework celebrations, there shouldn’t be anything to worry about – it’ll all be over before you know it!
Cats generally are not huge fans of fireworks. Fireworks not only result in your cat being stressed and anxious but could even cause them to run away and become lost. You’re probably not going to be able to completely eliminate the presence of fireworks, but you can do things to keep your cat safe and calm during fireworks with these following tips.
If it’s likely there are going to be fireworks at night, make sure to spend more time playing with your cat during the day. The extra exercise can wear them out, resulting in your cat sleeping through the fireworks.
If your cat is an indoor/outdoor cat, be sure to keep them inside once it gets dark and lock the cat door so they can’t get back outside. Try to stay home as well. Even if your kitty hides all night, they will be more comforted knowing there is someone familiar nearby, which can help minimize stress and anxiety during the fireworks.
Provide a safe space for your cat to retreat to. Place their favorite bed or cat tree in an enclosed and quiet space, ideally as far as you can from windows and doors. Place some extra blankets in their hideaway space as well and some fun toys. Catnip toys can be great as a distraction for your cat.
It’s also a good idea to keep windows and curtains closed to help reduce the visual and sound stimulation. This will reduce, although not eliminate, the sound from the fireworks and will remove the visual stimulation of the firewo rks, making it less scary for your cat.
Consider an anxiety-reducing product. If you know your cat is easily stressed and/or very afraid of fireworks, an anxiety reducing product can help keep your cat calm during fireworks. You could try CBD to help in de-stressing your cat (learn more about CBD here!) Alternatively, anxiety vests, such as a Thundershirt, are a good drug-free option. Lastly, pheromones are perfect for keeping a cat calm. Try plugging in a calming pheromone adapter to help ke ep kitty calm and relaxed.
As long as the windows and doors are locked and the cat door is closed, your cat shouldn’t be at risk of running away but make sure your cat has a break-away collar with ID tags on (even if they don’t usually wear their collar) and is micro-chipped just in case they manage to escape. If you open the door, make sure you know where your cat is and ideally close them in the room they are in while the door is open; cats are quick and can bolt very quickly if the opportunity presents itself, especially when scared and stressed.
Now you know how to keep your cat calm during fireworks! Let us know if these tips work for you.
When you think of a pet being fearful of fireworks, the image of a trembling, whining or drooling dog may come to mind, but what about cats? Your cat may also be frightened by fireworks.
It makes sense that July 5 th is the busiest day at the shelters due to dogs and cats who have bolted out of their homes in fear or become disoriented and terrified from the sight, smell and sound of July 4 th fireworks. New Year’s Eve is another popular time for fireworks.
A time that is festive, fun and exciting for most Americans is often terrifying for dogs, cats, horses, other livestock and even wildlife. Unfortunately, the fireworks aren’t always confined to just one day either. Your enthusiastic neighbors may begin the celebration several days in advance and continue for days after the Independence Day holiday.
Before getting into the calming tips, here’s an important safety tip that should be taken care of if you haven’t already: Have your cat microchipped. Even indoor cats should be microchipped in case of an escape outdoors. ID tags on collars are good but they can become separated from the cat. The safest form of identification is the microchip. The information on the registry should also be up-to-date. It’s also a good idea to make sure you have a current picture of your cat. Most cat parents have quite a few current pictures on their phones already but just double-check that you have a clear and sharp picture just in case the unthinkable happens and your cat gets lost.
The loud noises and bright lights at this time of year can be disorientating for cats, causing them to become lost or startling them out into roads. Many get stuck up trees that they have climbed in a panic, or are too scared to make their way home. There is also the very real risk of fireworks being used irresponsibly towards or around animals; there have sadly been recorded instances of this in the past.
Though we understand that it can be a little frustrating for some active cats to have their outdoor access cut off, a few evenings spent inside is a small price to pay for their safety and your peace of mind.
And if your cat is particularly upset by the fireworks, there are plenty of things you can do to make him or her feel a little calmer, such as –
• Plan accordingly. Many of the measures outlined below are most effective when introduced in advance.
• Invest in Feliway or Pet Remedy diffusers or sprays, which release calming pheromones to help ease your cats’ anxiety. Calming diffuser collars are also on the market.
• Maintain a normal routine – don’t fuss over your cat too much, as you’ll reinforce the feeling that something is wrong.
• Create a den for your cat, somewhere he or she can hide and feel safe and protected. Provide lots of other hiding places around the home, including in high spots, as cats feel safest when they are up high. Even cardboard boxes can be effective for this.
• Draw the curtains, close all windows, and put the TV or radio on low to help drown out the noise.
• Bring your cats inside before it gets dark, and the fireworks start. Don’t leave it until the last minute.
• Try to be home on the evenings when fireworks are most prevalent – such as Halloween, Guy Fawkes’ Night, Diwali, and New Year’s Eve. Your cat may find your presence reassuring.
• If none of the above are effective, talk to your vet about further options for your cat – like putting him or her on a calming supplement such as Zyklene.
• Playing recordings of firework sounds on YouTube in the months leading up to firework season may help acclimatize your cat to the noise.
• Remember to have your cat microchipped and purchase a collar and identity tag for him or her. If the fireworks do cause your cat to run away, this will greatly increase your chances of being reunited.
Fireworks. We love seeing the pretty colours and patterns in the sky, but some cats (and dogs) are terrified of the noises that come with fireworks.
And can we blame them? Those noises are loud!
So how do we keep our cats calm while fireworks are going off?
In an ideal situation, we would move them away from the fireworks by spending that time elsewhere. But this isn’t always possible, especially when the fireworks are unplanned or set off by others near your home.
What to do the first time fireworks go off.
The difficulty is that we don’t know if our cat is scared of fireworks till they are exposed to them the first time.
We suggest approaching this first time like they are scared of fireworks, and if they aren’t it makes it easier for you.
Bring your cat indoors
Fireworks may cause your cat to bolt, especially when they are outdoors. With this in mind, we recommend you bring your cat indoors when you know fireworks may be let off or if you start to hear fireworks.
Prepare your home
If you can, stay home with your cat so that you can monitor how they react and keep them calm.
If you can’t stay at home, do your best to prepare your home for an anxious cat.
Muffle the noise
What usually startles cats is the noise of the fireworks, so do whatever you can to stifle the noise. Close the windows and doors and blinds and curtains.
If your cat is used to the TV or radio being on, this will also help distract them. Another option is to play music for cats, which has been created specifically to help cats calm down.
Create a safe space for your cat
Cats love having a safe space to surrender into when they feel anxious or scared and it is easy to create several options for your cat at home.
This could be their cat backpack, a box, a favourite cat bed, a cave in their cat tree, their cat tunnel or even a blanket fort.
Make these spaces cosy using things like blankets and even your clothes as they will appreciate being able to smell you.
If your cat responds to calming sprays like Feliway you can use these too.
We recommend not shutting your cat in a small confined space as this may stress them more as they can’t escape. If they want to go into a small space, let them decide that themselves.
Once the fireworks go off
When the fireworks start, watch your cat closely to see how they respond.
Pay attention to your cat
Many anxious cats will hide in their safe space and prefer to be left alone. While other would like to be near you or even be patted.
Pay attention to your kitty and decide how they would like you to respond. Perhaps they would like you to be near them while they hang in their cat cave, while others may prefer to stay far away from their humans. Don’t force cuddles on your cat if they do not want them as this may stress them.
Cats pick up on their human’s feelings. With this in mind, do your best to stay calm, as this will help them stay calm.
Play with your cat
If your cat is interested, you can distract them from the scary firework sounds by using play time. Play with them using their favourite toys and perhaps set up some food puzzles.
After the fireworks
When you start catexploring with your cat once fireworks are over, keep an eye out for potential debris from the fireworks that your cat may pick up, play with or even eat.
But what about the surprise fireworks?
We can’t plan for all fireworks as they may surprise us.
If your cat is scared of fireworks and they suddenly start going off, make sure they have a safe space inside. Chances are your cat has already picked out their favourite safe space in your home and will retreat here.
This article contains affiliate links. If you click on these links and make a purchase, at no cost to you, Catexplorer receives a small commission which is used to continue to help the Catexplorer Community.
How to keep cats and dogs calm during fireworks season… Fireworks, whether on Bonfire Night, at a party, or on New Year’s Eve are fun for us, but not always as much fun for our pets and can cause them to feel anxiety and fear. Recent 2019 stat’s from the PDSA PAW Report show that 23% of UK dog owners want to reduce stress related behaviour caused by fireworks.
If ignored, firework fears can progress to a more serious noise phobia, whereby even the slightest noise causes panic and excessive reactions. So how do you keep your cat & dog calm during fireworks season? Here are some of our top tips to help reduce anxiety and reassure your pet.
There are things you can do in the lead up to Fireworks night to help reduce the risk of anxiety.
Diary check- Know the times of your local displays so you can plan ahead and ensure your pet is safely in doors. Also be aware of firework displays at home, and special events such as Halloween.
Buy a calming product- There’s a range of products that can really help reduce the amount of stress your pet may feel. Supplements like Zylkene and YuCALM contain natural ingredients which promote relaxation and encourages calmer behaviour. Ideally supplements need to be used up to 10 days before the event to ensure maximum efficiency.
Diffusers such as Adaptil and Feliway Optimum are great for constant support in the home, they release pheromones which give dogs and cats a sense of security in stressful situations. It’s recommended that the diffusers are plugged- in two weeks prior to the event, once in, they can last up to 4 weeks.
Anxiety shirts for dogs, like ThunderShirt can be used with Adaptil diffusers for a more effective solution. The shirt is ideal for fear of fireworks, thunderstorms cars or travel. The Thundershirt is easy to put on and ensures a consistent pressure on the core of the dog. This pressure has a calming effect for most dogs.
In the week building up to Fireworks night, it’s a good idea to walk your dog when it’s still daylight to help reduce the chances of them encountering any early/random fireworks while out of the house.
Check your pets ID information. If your pet is scared there’s an increased chance they will run away. Make sure their name and address are up to date so you can find them quickly.
Building a den gives your pet a safe place they can hide in. It’s very important the den is set up a few weeks before Bonfire Night as a brand new den on November 5th won’t be familiar.
There are a few important things to consider when building your pet’s den:
Location – put the den in your pet’s favourite room where they’d usually spend the evening and feel comfortable.
Free Access – allow your pet to access the den at all times. This way it’s their choice to spend time there and they’ll grow to like it more and more
NEVER force them to go into the den as punishment, this makes their safe place negative.
Size – The den has to be a suitable size for your pet. They have to be able to comfortably stand up, lie down, move around and stretch out.
Smells – fill the den with familiar smells – used blankets, towels or old clothes are good choices.
Treats and Toys – their den has to be a positive place for them to sit and relax, you can reinforce this with some treats and toys.
Sound – putting a blanket over their den can help muffle any frightening lights and sounds and makes it feel like an enclosed and safe space. Alternatively if your dog is used to the sounds of a TV or radio, switch them on in order to mask the loud bangs of the fireworks.
Go higher – cats feel more comfortable somewhere high up. We know it isn’t always possible to make them a den somewhere high up, but they will appreciate it if you can.
The more the better – Make sure you have a separate hiding place for each cat, and then one extra. This gives them a choice and can help make them feel comfortable.
Avoid leaving your pet alone during the fireworks event, act normally and give them lots of praise for calm behaviour. If they allow you, give them a cuddle or a stroke to help them relax.
Close all windows and doors and check all available exits are secure to avoid your pet from running away if they become scared.
Loud and sudden noises can make cats anxious and stressed, so fireworks season can be a tough time for our feline friends. Our advice should help you and your pet right through from Bonfire Night to New Year’s Eve.
Top tips on caring for your cat or kitten during firework season
Get them microchipped
Before fireworks season begins, get your pet microchipped and, if they already are, check your contact details are up to date. This is really important as it gives you the best chance of being reunited with your cat if they become spooked and get lost amid the bangs and crashes.
Keep them inside
Make sure your cat stays inside at night during firework season. Check the dates and times of local displays so you know when to keep your cat in. If your cat is used to going outside, provide a litter tray.
Block off cat flaps to stop them from getting outside and to help muffle the sound of bangs and zips.
Background noise and light
You can help to block out the noise of fireworks by switching on the TV or radio, if your cat is already used to the sound, but make sure it’s not too loud.
Closing the curtains or blacking out windows will help to block out the sight of bright flashes.
Let them do their thing
Let your cat pace around inside your home and miaow if they want to. If your cat finds a den to hide in, for example under the bed, don’t try to coax them out – your cat is trying to find safety and shouldn’t be disturbed.
Don’t leave them alone
Avoid leaving your pet alone during such potentially upsetting events, especially during the week around Bonfire Night.
If you do have to leave the house, don’t get angry with your cat if you they have toileted after being left on their own. Shouting at a frightened cat will only make it more stressed.
Although it’s difficult when it’s obvious your cat is stressed, try not to let them know you are worried as it may make the problem worse. Stay calm, act normally and give lots of praise for calm behaviour. It’s OK to cuddle and stroke your cat if it helps them relax, but if they prefer to hide under your bed, then let them do this instead.
It’s not uncommon for a cat to be afraid of loud noises, especially thunder and fireworks. They usually display by hiding. A cat suffering from a substantial fear of loud noises may begin to display anxious behavior before the thunder begins. Rain on the roof of the house, bright flashes of light or even the drop in air pressure before a storm may be enough to trigger anxiety. It is important to know what to do when the situation occurs:
- Staying calm will help your cat feel safe. You might even try to play with your cat to distract from the noise of thunder of fireworks.,
- Make sure your cat has a safe place to seek refuge. Cats typically will run under a bed or under a chair to escape loud noises. Your cat chooses these places because she feels protected and the noise of thunder or fireworks is muffled. If your cat has not already picked out a place, provide one. Try leaving a few kibbles of a favorite Science Diet® cat food in safe place to encourage your cat to go there.
Try desensitizing your cat to loud noises so the sound becomes normal. This is usually done by playing recorded thunder at a low volume and in short intervals while you monitor your cat’s behavior. This process is long and requires patience, but in the end your cat will be much more comfortable during a storm or near a fireworks display.
Dave is Clinical Director at Bath Vet Group and Natures Vet in Somerset.
He lives near Frome with his wife, their two children and their ginger cat, Baker.
Bonfire Night and firework season is many pet owners’ least favourite time of year. The loud, sudden noises can be very stressful for cats – and no owner likes to see their beloved companion scared or uncomfortable.
Luckily, there are a few easy steps you can take to make your cat feel much more relaxed during the firework season.
A brief summary.
during firework season
- Make sure your cat stays inside at night
- Provide your cat with a comfortable hideout and try not to smother them
- Use music, TV, treats, toys and enrichment games to distract your cat
- In extreme cases, use a calming product like Vetpro: Stress & Anxiety
- Try using sound therapy to desensitise your cat to loud noise
Is your cat stressed, or scared of fireworks?
Signs of firework phobia include:
- Your cat is visibly startled by the noises
- Running away
- Going to the toilet indoors
- Reduced appetite
- Pacing or circling
- General restlessness or change in demeanour
Stay home with your cat
Humans expect fireworks at this time of year, so they’re not that big of a shock. To cats, however, they’re just sudden, unexpected and very unpleasant!
Your presence at home will help your cat feel a lot safer during this loud season. Think about missing the festivities and staying home with your cat instead. Or if there are several people in your household, why not nominate 1-2 of you to stay behind and keep your cat company?
Secure your house at night time
Fireworks are unpredictable – especially if your neighbours are hosting their own event in the garden. To prevent your cat coming across any dangerous fireworks, keep them indoors during the night.
Make sure your house is fully secured so your cat can’t escape. If they’re frightened, they may try to run away – get their cat flap securely closed, plus all doors and windows.
It’s also a good idea to get your cat microchipped – if they do run away, your chances of being reunited with them are much higher if they have a microchip implant. Read our guide to microchipping your cat.
Since your cat is spending their nights indoors for the next few days, make sure they have access to a clean litter box.
Make a hideout for your cat
Your cat will feel safer if they have somewhere comfy to hide. You could use their carrier, or even an old cardboard box lined with warm blankets.
In general, cats feel safer when they’re high up. They like to be able to assess their surroundings and keep an eye on what’s going on. If you can, store their makeshift hiding place somewhere high, like the top of a bookshelf.
Act calm around your cat
If you’re flustered by the firework noises, your cat will sense it and it’ll add to their fear. If you remain nice and calm, you’ll act as a calming presence for your cat – which is a great help to them.
It’s also important to let your cat come and go as they please. They might visit their hideout, then another hideout (under your bed, for example), then check in on you every now and again.
Let them operate in their own way, be there to provide cuddles and reassurance if your cat comes up to you, but avoid picking them up and smothering them as this may make them feel worse.
Provide some distractions
You can make the fireworks less noticeable by:
- Closing the curtains
- Turning up the TV or radio
- Playing loud music or background noise
It’s also a good idea to take your cat’s mind off the noises outside. To do this, provide food, treats and their favourite toys. Try playing your cat’s favourite enrichment game to keep them busy!
Increased activity indoors will also help make up for the outside exploring your cat has missed during the evenings surrounding Bonfire Night.
Use a calming product
If your cat is exceptionally scared of firework noises, try giving them a calming product. We recommend Vetpro: Stress & Anxiety – it’s designed by vets to help both dogs and cats feel calmer during stressful situations, and reduces unwanted behaviour as little as one hour after being administered.
To get a better idea of the therapeutic products available and which one would be better suited to your cat, have a chat with your local vet.
Better luck next time?
You can desensitise your cat to the sound of fireworks using sound therapy. The process is simple but it can take a few weeks to complete. It works by slowly getting your pet used to certain distressing sounds i.e. fireworks, thunderstorms. Start off by playing the sounds on a really low volume, and increasing the volume day by day – so long as your cat is comfortable.
Read more about the benefits of sound therapy or alternatively, have a chat with your vet. Locate your nearest My Family Vets practice using our Find a Vet page.
Summer is a treat for all the senses. It’s almost impossible for anyone not to appreciate the fresh flower smells, the warmer temperatures and the outdoor sounds of summer fun — until you get to the pyrotechnics with your furry family members.
Fireworks may be the staple of a wonderful summer evening for you, but they can be terrifying for your dog or cat. Remember, canines’ hearing range is two times as great as ours.
Here are some tips for helping your furry family member feel comfortable and safe amid all the fireworks.
1. Stay calm
That means you. Dogs and cats are incredibly intuitive. They can sense and empathize with your fear and anxiety and adopt those feelings for themselves. Take a deep breath, be a comforting and calm pet parent, and your best pal will likely follow suit.
2. Create a safe space
Your dog or cat probably has a comfort zone they turn to when overwhelmed with stressed. Whether it’s behind the couch, under the dining room table or even in a bedroom closet, you can make it even more comfortable for your pal. Place more blankets in their go-to spot and add more favorite toys to help your furry companion feel more calm and reassured.
3. Get your home ready
It’s wise to keep your pet inside during the fireworks. You can help muffle the outdoor din by drawing the shades and curtains. Flip on some lights, turn on the TV or radio to a comfortable volume and your dog or cat may be distracted enough to ignore the scary noises outside.
4. Desensitize through training
Dogs and cats aren’t inherently afraid of fireworks. You may actually be able to train your pal to tolerate the noise. Gradually exposing your dog or cat to loud, startling sounds may mitigate their anxiety and fear when pyrotechnics occur later in their lives.
You can start by bringing your dog to outdoor concerts or pet-friendly patio restaurants where there are lots of noises, or expose your pal to smaller fireworks at a further distance. You can also gradually increase the volume of music around your home. Ideally, desensitization should start as early as possible when your furry family member is a pup or kitten.
5. Apply pressure
There are items you can buy that apply gentle pressure to your dog or cat to help soothe them. Weighted clothing can help keep your canine or feline at ease. There are even some earmuffs dogs can wear to block out loud noise.
The most important thing you can do for your furry pal during any loud celebration is to simply stay calm and make him or her comfortable. Lots of soothing pats and cuddles can work wonders. If these tips don’t seem to help your dog or cat, ask your veterinarian for other tactics that may help, such as medication. Your local Humane Society can give you helpful recommendations as well.
The Fourth of July can be super stressful for cats — not only do most cats hate the sound of booming fireworks, but if you’re hosting a big BBQ bash, many can get stressed out by all the people coming in and out of their house.
It’s important to be prepared, so here are some tips for keeping your cat calm this Fourth of July.
Tips to keep your cat calm on the Fourth of July
Keep her inside.
If your cat is an indoor/outdoor cat, keep her inside on the Fourth. The sound of fireworks can make even the calmest cats dart in a panic, and it’s best to avoid any risk of her getting lost outside.
Provide a safe hiding place.
Make your cat a hiding place indoors where she can retreat and feel safe. Show her where it is beforehand so that she can get accustomed to it.
It’s also helpful to filter any loud sounds as much as you can. “Close the windows and drapes to keep out both noises and flashes of light,” Dr. Ann Hohenhaus, a veterinarian at Animal Medical Center in New York City, told The Dodo. “ Provide some background noise — the TV, radio or air conditioner — to drown out the booming fireworks.”
Calming products are worth a try.
There are products that can help calm your cat down during fireworks. Calming oils can be rubbed on your cats ears to help reduce stress and make her feel more secure.
You can try one of these products:
You can also get a weighted anxiety jacket — like a ThunderShirt — for your cat. These hug your cat in all the right places, reducing stress and calming her nerves.
You can try this one:
Another calming product to consider are soft chews packed with natural ingredients that help calm nerves.
Extra precautions to keep your cat calm on the 4th:
While taking all of these steps can help ease your cat’s anxiety this July, it’s always good to be prepared just in case the worst happens and she does run away. Dr. Hohenhaus suggests taking some extra steps so you’re prepared to jump into action if your cat goes missing.
- Make sure that your cat is microchipped and registered with up-to-date contact information
- Make sure your cat’s tags are up-to-date
- Be sure you have a recent photo of your cat in case you need to make a lost pet poster
If you’re still worried, or if your cat has a history of serious anxiety or of panicking around fireworks, Dr. Hohenhaus recommends seeing your veterinarian to discuss using a tranquilizer or prescribed medication on the Fourth of July.
With the above recommendations, hopefully you and your cat can have a calm and stress-free Fourth of July — and if you need any ideas for some awesome ways to celebrate with her, check out our guide to the cutest ways to ring in the 4th!
Dogs and cats in particular are likely to be frightened by fireworks. According to the RSPCA, 62% of dogs and 54% of cats show signs of fear when they hear fireworks.
Read on for some top tips and advice on how to reduce the stress of fireworks – particularly on Bonfire Night or New Year’s Eve – for dogs, cats and other small pets.
1. Take your dog for a daylight walk
On Bonfire Night and New Year’s Eve it gets dark fairly early. Take your dog for a long walk while it’s still light if you can, before the fireworks start going off. This should help tire them out and hopefully make it easier for them to sleep through the noise.
Your dog may still need to go out in the evening. If you can, try to take them out for their last ‘essential’ walk after the fireworks have stopped.
2. Keep them inside
In the case of both cats and dogs, if they go outside when there are lots of fireworks going off, it is likely to cause them additional stress.
So, make sure all doors are shut, and there are no escape routes as some pets can go into a panic and behave erratically. Also, make sure everyone in the household knows they should open and close any outside doors quickly, to avoid any pets escaping.
If you need to take your dog outside to the toilet, make sure that they won’t be able to escape from your garden or outdoor space.
3. Close your windows, shut the curtains and turn on the TV
Try to minimise the noise from outside by shutting all of your windows. Having the TV or some music on should help to absorb any noise from outside, although don’t turn it up too loud or this could cause further issues.
You might like to try this Spotify playlist of background sounds created by pet charity PDSA to help keep your pet calm and drown out fireworks.
Of course, it’s not just the noises, as the flashing lights can also be stressful. So, it’s best to close all curtains and blinds, and keep the lights on in any rooms your pets go in.
4. Create a den where they can feel safe
If your dog is crate trained, leave the crate open with a cover over the top. This gives them the option to hide in there if they want to.
Be careful not to close them in though, as this could increase their fear. While it’s good to create a den, they should also have the option of going anywhere they feel comfortable. This might just be curled up by your side on the sofa.
If you don’t have a crate, you could drape a blanket over a table, and put comfortable sheets or their bed underneath to create a similar effect.
5. Distract your dog
Giving your dog a long-lasting chew should help to keep them occupied. You can also distract them with their favourite toy, or even better introduce a new one. However, it’s best not to overdo this, if you’re acting in a way which feels different and out of routine, this could also cause your dog anxiety.
6. Stay calm
Similarly, you should try to keep your tone of voice and behaviour as normal as possible, and remain calm yourself. You might make them more anxious by over petting them and getting stressed.
7. Use a pheromone plug-in (in advance)
Pheromone diffusers give off scents which can have a calming effect on pets, but humans are unable to smell. The best-known plug-ins are Adaptil for dogs, and Feliway for cats.
These don’t have an instant effect, so it’s best to start using them a few weeks before fireworks night. They’re also not designed to be a cure-all in themselves, but should certainly help, if combined with some of the other steps to keep your pet calm.
8. Keeping cats safe during fireworks
Cats are also more likely to become stressed if they’re outside during fireworks, so it’s best to keep them indoors on fireworks night. If they’re not already microchipped, try to do so before fireworks, in case they become startled and run outside.
While your cats are very likely to have hiding places within your home already, create some in advance if they don’t. They tend to feel safest when high up, so create a covered space on top of a wardrobe, for example, then do a quick check that the den is secure, and won’t fall off.
Top tip: Don’t pick up or in any way restrain your cat if they become frightened. It’s best to leave them in control. If they would rather go and hide, let them do it.
9. Keeping small pets safe during fireworks
For any other small pets, try to create a soundproofed area in which they can hide. Cover their pens or cages, but make sure it’s well ventilated. It’s also good to have an area they can look out of if they need to, so they don’t feel trapped. Also, provide them with some extra bedding for burrowing to keep them busy and comforted.
If your small pets live outside, it’s definitely worth considering bringing them indoors for fireworks night. If you have rabbits or guinea pigs that live outside, for example, move their hutch into a garage or shed a few nights in advance so they get used to the change of scenery beforehand.
Many pet owners dread these times of year – such as Bonfire Night, New Year’s Eve, or Diwali – when their normally happy dogs and cats become fearful of fireworks.
However, with a little help from Give as you Live Online, and some guidance from trusted charities Cats Protection, Dogs Trust, and PDSA, fireworks season can be less stressful for your four-legged friends.
The following advice is taken from Cats Protection.
Like all wild animals, cats associate loud noises with danger, and fireworks will make them stressed and fearful.
Displays tend to go on for a long time, and a cat can be totally terrified and disorientated by the time quiet returns. Some animal sanctuaries report a larger number of strays handed in, as a result of scared pets running away from home. So, what can you do to help make your cat feel safe?
The best thing you can do is to keep your cat indoors after sunset when you know fireworks are likely, with the curtains drawn and the TV on. Even if you don’t normally use a litter tray indoors, this is a time when it is worth doing so. Remember to keep the windows shut and the cat flap locked!
Don’t be surprised if your cat stays in a dark hidey-hole where he feels safe while fireworks are in progress, and don’t try to tempt or grab him out of his sanctuary – it will just stress him more. Usually, he will come out when the noises are over. He can hear a lot better than we can, so we may think there are no fireworks going on, but he can still hear them further away, so wait for him to emerge of his own accord. If he stays hidden for a long time, make sure there will be food and water available when he does come out.
Don’t overreact if your pet shows signs of fear, as this may make them worse. Stay calm and behave normally.
If, for some reason, you do have to take your cat outside, such as if you have to travel somewhere, make sure they are safely in a cat carrier. The most important precaution you can take is to have your cat microchipped so that you stand a better chance of being reunited if a door is left ajar and your cat slips out.
The following advice is taken from Dogs Trust.
How to prepare your dog before fireworks begin
1. Speak to your vet well in advance
If your dog has a fear of loud noises, they may be able to help or offer a referral to a qualified behaviourist who can help tackle your dog’s fear of fireworks.
2. Provide a safe hiding place
At noisy times around Bonfire Night and the rest of the firework season, make sure your dog has somewhere safe in his or her favourite room, perhaps under the table.
3. Feed your dog before the fireworks begin
Once the fireworks start, they may become unsettled and not want to eat during the fireworks.
4. Walk your dog before dark
During the firework season, make sure your dog is well exercised and has had a toilet break well before the fireworks begin.
5. Try to settle your dog before the fireworks start
If your dog is in familiar safe surroundings, this can help them cope with the noise. Once the fireworks starts, it’s best to let your dog decide what they want to do – play or hide away.
6. Make sure your house and garden are secure
During the fireworks fear may make your dog try to escape. You should close all the windows and curtains, turn the lights on and play the radio or TV to help drown out the sound of fireworks.
How to help your dog during fireworks
1. Give your dog comfort if they seek your reassurance
Don’t punish your dog for cowering or reacting to the fireworks as this will intensify their fear.
You should aim to remain relaxed and therefore provide a good role model to your dog when they are afraid – interact with them calmly.
2. Don’t leave your dog alone
Stay in the house with your dog during the fireworks period – if left alone, without your reassurance they may panic and this could result in an injury.
3. Let your dog hide away or play as they please
It may help to keep your dog busy indoors – play games or enjoy some reward-based training to keep their mind off the noises.
However, if they just want to hide away then don’t force them to come out of their hiding place, allow them to stay where they feel safe. Never force a dog outside during fireworks.
Rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, gerbils, mice, ferrets and birds all need to be treated with special care when fireworks are being let off. These animals are easily frightened. Blue Cross advises that owners of such types of small animal should follow these precautions:
- Hutches/cages and enclosures should, if possible, be brought into a quiet room indoors, or into a garage or shed.
- Give your pet extra bedding to burrow into so it feels safe.
- If you cannot bring your pet’s hutch inside, you should turn its enclosure around so that it faces a wall or fence instead of the open garden.
- Cover any aviaries or hutches with thick blankets or a duvet to block out the sight of the fireworks and deaden the sound of the bangs, but make sure there is enough ventilation.
Thanks for visiting the Give as you Live Online blog! Give as you Live Online is a FREE-to-use website, which enables you to raise donations for the charity of your choice every time you shop online. Whether you’re buying new shoes for the kids, ordering a takeaway or switching your electricity supplier, we’ll pay a donation (equivalent to a percentage of your spend) to your charity, at no cost to you. Sign up today, or find out more by clicking the banner below.
Offers, donation rates and participating stores are correct at the time of writing and are subject to change. Please visit the Give as you Live Online website for the most up to date information.
Bonfire Night is a treat for the eyes, with fireworks displays happening across the country and in Liverpool.
And, while it's important for people to stay safe if you are doing your own fireworks displays at home, it's also vital to check in on your four-legged friends, too.
With fireworks being available in supermarkets for public and private use pets are, unfortunately, susceptible to being spooked by the loud bangs.
So, to avoid unnecessary stress for your pets this Bonfire Night, read on for our top tips and advice.
How to keep dogs and cats calm through fireworks on Bonfire Night
Dogs and cats are prone to getting stressed or frightened upon hearing fireworks, but there are plenty of ways to prevent and manage this.
Keep your pets indoors
To avoid your cat darting and going missing, or your dog from getting a fright, keep them locked inside the house in the evening when there are fireworks.
You should also take your dogs for walks earlier in the day, ideally before it gets dark, as this avoids them being outside during periods where fireworks are often let off.
Tire your dogs out
Your pets are likely to be less scared if they are tired, so try to make your dog's walks as energetic as possible with plenty of games of 'fetch'.
If you're a runner, try to take your dog out with you at midday and head for a run in the park so that they can use up all their excess energy. They'll hopefully be more prone to an early night or a solid night's sleep despite the fireworks.
Microchip your pets
Ensure all of your pets are microchipped or have GPS tracking device collars ahead of the fireworks season. You could be super-prepared, but even the smallest of mistakes, such as opening the front door or a hole in your fence, could lead to your pet bolting when spooked.
If they're microchipped, it'll be far easier to be reunited with your furry friend if someone has found them and handed them in at the vet.
Purchase pet-calming products
From calming jackets, ear muffs, tablets and plug-ins to blankets, toys and edible calming aids, there's no shortage of products you can buy your pets to keep them calm and soothed during fireworks displays.
A dog jacket, for example, is great for instant relief and can significantly reduce the amount your dog trembles due to loud noises.
Each pet reacts differently to various products, so it's crucial for you to understand your pet and their needs ahead of Bonfire Night.
For products like plug-ins, turn this on several hours before it gets dark as your pets are more likely to feel relaxed already, prior to any loud noises beginning.
Speak to your vet if you predict your pet becoming excessively distressed during nights where there are fireworks and they may prescribe some calming aids, too.
Create safe spaces in your home for your pets
It's natural for your pets to seek solace and comfort in dark corners of the house that are tucked away and isolated when they are scared.
Instead of stressing them out by locking them in one room during Bonfire Night try making corners of the house, that they gravitate towards for comfort, a safe haven with blankets, water bowls and their favourite toys.
Give plenty of cuddles
Your pet is likely to look to you for comfort if it is spooked by the loud noises from fireworks.
If there's any night to spoil them with cuddles, plenty of belly rubs and a few treats, it's Bonfire Night. If they want to remain close to you, try to facilitate this and use calm tones with them throughout the evening.
Five signs your pet is stressed due to fireworks
Like humans, pets show stress in a multitude of ways, and some may be more obvious than others.
Here are five key signs to look out for:
- Shaking or trembling
- Panting excessively, with short shallow breaths
- Excessive licking around their mouth
- Excessive drooling
- Constant barking
If your dog is barking excessively when there are loud noises, avoid raising your voice to scold them and attempt to get them to behave.
Instead, try to distract them by putting the TV on, music or some form of background noise – try searching for 'white noise for pets' – or even playing with them.
It's also essential for you to stay calm, even if you are concerned about their wellbeing, as they are likely to be able to sense something is wrong, which will only lead to them becoming more stressed.
If they show any extreme signs of distress such as fainting or they have severe struggles with breathing, call your vet (or an emergency vet if yours is closed) to seek advice for what to do.
How to lure your pet out of a hiding place if they are spooked by fireworks
Unless your pet is in danger where they are hiding, do not try to lure them out of their hiding spot in your house when fireworks are going off outside.
They are seeking comfort and safety, and this is a place that they feel comfortable or slightly relieved away from the noise.
Instead, create a sanctuary for them in that space with blankets and even some of your clothes that smell like you.
Keep a water bowl nearby so that they can settle there while staying hydrated – some pets will drink more water when they are stressed, so keep topping it up.
Firework displays were largely called off last year during Diwali and Bonfire Night due to the coronavirus pandemic, but many events are planning to go ahead this year.
While the spectacles are enjoyed by people across the UK, our furry friends often find the loud bangs and sudden flashes of light stressful and scary, which could lead to anxiety or running away.
Research published by The Kennel Club last month showed that the number of dogs that go missing in the UK doubles during fireworks season, which usually falls in the first week of November.
Eight in 10 owners say they notice a significant change in their pet’s behaviour during this period, and a survey of 1,000 owners found that one third of dogs are “terrified” of the displays.
This is because dogs can hear four times the distance that a human can hear, and can hear higher pitched sounds, at a frequency range of 67-45,000 Hz.
Here are top tips for keeping your dogs and cats safe this firework season:
Walk your dog early
The RSPCA says that walking your dog during daylight hours to avoid times when fireworks are likely to be set off will minimise the risk of them getting frightened and running away.
It is also imperative to ensure your pet is microchipped to make sure you can find them if they do escape out of fear.
Keep your cat indoors after sundown
If your cat usually roams around outdoors, it is a good idea to get them indoors before sunset if you know there will be fireworks in your area.
Experts from All About Cats recommend keeping all windows shut and the cat flap locked during this period, and giving them a new toy or treat to distract them.
Keep the sound down
The loud bangs from fireworks being set off can be scary for pets, who might think they are in danger. Closing all the windows and doors and drawing the curtains to block out any flashes will help to minimise their fear, and you can also turn on the television or radio to distract them.
Adem Fehmi, a canine behaviourist from Rover, suggests: “Play calming music to drown out or at least soften the sound of any fireworks that may be let off. I like to play Classic FM loudly on fireworks night until I am sure that the fireworks have finished.”
Create a safe space
The Kennel Club and the Blue Cross both recommend creating a den for your pets filled with their favourite toys and blankets. Here, they can hide from the loud sounds outside if they want to.
Avoid trying to coax them out of their safe space before they are ready as this will only stress them out further. This is particularly applicable for cats – instead, leave them where they feel safe and secure, and they will come out in their own time.
“Before fireworks season begins, get your pet microchipped and, if they already are, check your contact details are up to date,” says the Blue Cross.
“This is really important as it gives you the best chance of being reunited with your cat if they become spooked and get lost amid the bangs and crashes.”
To keep your pet feeling reassured, you should avoid making a big fuss about the noise because this “can unintentionally signal to your dog that there is something to be afraid of.”
Fehmi adds: “In fact, we want to be helping our dog to understand that there is nothing to fear. Although we want our dogs to feel that we are there for them, we want to show our dogs that there is nothing to be afraid of by modelling the desired behaviour and remaining calm ourselves.”
Do not take them to a fireworks display
The Blue Cross strongly advises against taking any pets to a fireworks display, even if they are quiet.
If you do end up being outside during the fireworks with your dog, keep a close eye on them. Excessive panting and yawning is a stress indicator and means you should take them somewhere safe immediately.
What to do with smaller animals
If you have outdoor pets, such as chickens, you can partly cover cages, pens and aviaries with blankets so that one area is sound-proofed, but make sure they are still able to look out.
You should also provide plenty of extra bedding for them to burrow in, and consider bringing them indoors until the fireworks are over.
Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism
By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists
Already have an account? sign in
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies
Fireworks are an integral part of many people’s New Year celebrations and are likely to be all the more so this year given we’ve all endured a tough 12 months dominated by the Covid pandemic.
Sign up to our NationalWorld Today newsletter
The i newsletter cut through the noise
Where fireworks are allowed to be set off, the loud flashes and bangs are likely to make it an anxious and terrifying time for our four-legged friends.
Dogs, cats and other popular pets, like rabbits, are all highly sensitive to noise and bright lights.
So what can you do to give them the best start to 2022 possible?
NationalWorld asked vets and leading charities for their advice.
How to keep dogs calm on New Year’s Eve
Most dogs are easily distressed by fireworks.
“Dogs have approximately four times more sensitive hearing than humans, so the loud cracks and bangs of fireworks can often be a terrifying and confusing experience for them,” said head of canine behaviour at charity the Dogs Trust, Jenna Kiddie.
“Fireworks tend to be sudden, unpredictable and bright. This combination can be distressing and have a lasting impact on dogs.”
Kiddie has given NationalWorld eight top tips for dog owners on how to keep their pups as calm as possible on New Year’s Eve:
- Walk your dog during daylight hours – it’s a good idea to make sure your dog is exercised and has had a toilet break well before any fireworks displays are likely to get underway
- Feed your dog before the fireworks begin – they may not want to eat during the fireworks
- Make sure your house and garden are secure – some dogs may try to run away if they’re scared
- Provide a safe hiding place – ensure your pooch has a safe bolthole in their favourite room. For example, put a comfy bed under a table with blankets to make it cosy and help with soundproofing
- Mask bangs and flashes – close the curtains, turn the lights on and turn up the volume on your TV or radio to mask the firework noises and flashes
- Keep your dog busy – playing games or doing some training can help take their mind off the noise
- Comfort and reassure your dog – try to remain calm and avoid telling your dog off, as this might make them more anxious
- Let them be – if your dog just wants to hide somewhere, they shouldn’t be forced to come out. Allow them to stay where they feel safe
Pet emergency care provider Vets Now also recommends talking to your vet if your dog is particularly sensitive to fireworks displays.
Vets can direct you to products, like calming collars or medication.
The Dog’s Trust also has sound-based treatment programmes that aim to gradually normalise noises that can prove scary to pups.
While it’s too late to start one of these programmes in time for New Year’s Eve, it might be worth trying one out on your pet so they’re ready for upcoming celebrations, like Bonfire Night 2022.
What can I do to help my cat on New Year’s Eve?
According to Vets Now, cats associate loud noises with danger and may well panic when the flashes and bangs start going off nearby.
The vet service provider said its vets see “hundreds” of felines that have been involved in road traffic accidents due to being spooked by fireworks.
As with dogs, sound therapy may be a solution for your cat.
Vets Now also recommends talking to your vet for advice on what to do.
Here are some top tips from the company on how best to look after your cat during the fireworks:
- Make sure your cat can’t harm itself – even the most placid of cats can bolt for cover and hurt themselves in the process. It’s advised to make sure they have access to more than one room to avoid hurting themselves
- Keep them indoors – block off cat flaps so they can’t escape and avoid leaving them home alone
- Close your curtains – keep out flashes by trying to keep your cat somewhere with no windows, or by shutting the curtains
- Allow access to their favourite bolthole – try to avoid constantly checking on them if they have chosen to hide somewhere
- Drown out the noise – provide background noise from a TV or radio
- Act normal – it is more beneficial to act calmly. If you give off any anxiety, your cat may think they should be worried too
- Don’t tell them off – it’s advised to not shout at your cat if it becomes destructive as a result of distress — this will only upset your pet more
- Provide an indoor litter tray in a convenient location – if cats are very anxious, they may avoid visiting the toilet if they feel threatened or scared. So try to help them keep up their normal routine by putting their litter tray in an accessible place
Vets Now says it can be hard to know if your cat is distressed because they don’t tend to reveal their emotional state as readily as dogs.
Some cats will show obvious signs of stress and anxiety though.
Look out for dilated pupils and withdrawn behaviour. You should listen out for hissing or low grumbling too.
When cats are scared they’re also likely to arch their back and crouch, pin their ears back, and make slow low movements.
What about my other pets?
It’s not only dogs and cats that can be distressed by fireworks.
Rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters and birds can also be terrified by displays.
Some have even been known to die of fright when fireworks are set off near their home.
Here are some more tips from Vets Now on how to help the smaller creatures in your life.
- Bring their hutch inside – the sound-proofing provided by the four walls of your home will help your pet cope. If bringing their cage inside isn’t possible, partly cover it with blankets so that they have some soundproofing. But you must ensure your pet has enough ventilation
- Soundproof your house by closing windows and drawing curtains
- Again, you can provide normal background noises, like the TV or radio
- Provide plenty of bedding – this will help your pet feel secure by giving them something to hide in and will also help keep out the noise
- Make sure they’re not alone — rabbits in particular are social animals, so try to make sure they’re with someone they’re familiar with
A message from the editor:
Thank you for reading. NationalWorld is a new national news brand, produced by a team of journalists, editors, video producers and designers who live and work across the UK. Find out more about who’s who in the team, and our editorial values. We want to start a community among our readers, so please follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and keep the conversation going. You can also sign up to our email newsletters and get a curated selection of our best reads to your inbox every day.
When fireworks are let off sporadically, stress and anxiety becomes common amongst dogs and cats. This can continue from October to the New Year and can be an agonising time for pets, as well as their owners.
For a pet affected by loud noises, the fireworks season can be a terrifying time. If your pet becomes stressed they could display this in a number of ways, such as, vocalisation, shaking, aggression, reduced appetite and ears pinned back.
There are, however many things that can be done to help keep your pets calm, which include:
Provide a den
This can be an enclosed ‘safe place’ for your pet to hide. Cover the top and all sides of a crate, table or cupboard near the centre of the home, or where they have previously hidden. Make it comfortable. You can even add a jumper or t-shirt of yours that will smell familiar to them. Let them come and go as they please.
During the fireworks stay calm yourself and don’t react to any fireworks that go off, as your pet will react to you. Try not to worry and don’t get angry with your pet or over fuss them, just reassure them gently and be as normal and routine as possible.
Keep pets indoors
To prevent extra stress and anxiety from pets, keep them indoors during the fireworks. For cats who like to go outdoors, make sure you place plenty of litter trays around the house, especially by usual exit points. In multiple cat homes, make sure you have one for each cat. Make sure your dog has had an opportunity to go to the toilet outside well before it gets dark and then keep them inside.
Mask the sound of fireworks
Try and mask the sound of fireworks by putting the TV on or playing some music, especially if animals are left home alone. You could also muffle the sound of the fireworks by closing the curtains and windows.
Take your dog for walks in the day
Burn extra energy by taking your pets on longer walks during the day. Avoid walking dogs at night when fireworks are being set off, try morning or afternoon walks.
Provide your dog or cat with plenty of toys to distract them from the loud noises. Ignore the fireworks yourself and play with them, but don’t force them to.
Stick to your routine
Maintain your routine and try to keep all other routines as normal as possible, such as feeding times. This will help to reduce any stress for your pet.
Prepare in advance
Consider preparing for next year with advice from your vet or a behaviourist. Consider using nutracalm, which is specifically formulated by vets to naturally calm anxious pets and to help reduce unwanted or unruly behaviour.
If you are worried about your pet during this time, speak to your vet who is best placed to offer advice with regards to you pet’s health needs. Ask your vet for more information on how nutracalm can help your pet during this time.
Firecrackers, rockets, sparklers – for many people, they’re all part of the New Year’s Eve fun. For animals, though, loud noises and flashes of light cause considerable stress. They often react with panic, sometimes showing physical symptoms such as diarrhoea. However, there are many simple measures we can take to calm our pets’ nerves on New Year’s Eve.
Here are our top tips for managing your pet:
- Early habituation: If you have a puppy or young dog it is important to gradually socialise them with different stimuli and situations including loud noises. This makes it easier for them as an adult dog to deal with loud noises and unusual situations, e.g. Fireworks night, New Year’s Eve.
- Desensitisation: Playing CD’s/playlists of firework noises is a good way to get your dog used to loud sounds. The noises are played quietly to start with, and then louder over time, according to the sensitivity of your dog. Alternatively, films of firework displays on YouTube for example can be played to help desensitise your dog to fireworks, again using a gradual approach to help reduce any sensitivity. These methods should start several weeks and even months before a firework event.
- Going for walks: If you need to take your dog out during fireworks then it is recommended to go for walks at times when it is still relatively quiet. Practical steps should also be taken to ensure that your dog does not run away if fireworks go off during your walk. For example, it is important to ensure that your dog is microchipped (and the microchip details are up to date) so that they can be returned to you if lost. It is also important that your dog wears a collar and tag with your contact details.
- In the house: During fireworks, your dog should stay in the house. To calm your dog it is recommended to close the curtains and put on calming music at a suitable volume to minimise the noise of the fireworks and help reduce your dog’s anxiety.
- Anti-stress jackets: So-called “calming shirts” are proven to have a calming effect on animals. Their design exerts a continual and gentle pressure on the ribcage of the dog and contributes to reducing their anxiety.
- White noise machine: These sound devices provide calming noise. Depending on the device, you can choose between rain, water fall and wind noises to help minimise the noise of the fireworks.
- In the case of stress: If your dog becomes stressed despite all precautionary measures, it is important that they can find a safe place to retreat to, such as under the bed, behind the sofa or wherever they feel most safe. If your dog is anxious it is important that they are not left on their own and that you are there to comfort them if needed.
- Conventional/alternative medicine: There are several medicines on the market that may help your dog during these times, however it is important that you seek the advice of a vet first before purchasing and administrating any treatments. If sensitivity to noise is a new thing for your dog, then it is important that your dog is examined by a vet to ensure that they are medically fit and that nothing else is causing the problem.
- Professional support: Animals that have a deep fear of fireworks and loud noises can be treated for their fears with professional help either by a vet or qualified behaviourist. A carefully developed desensitisation and counterconditioning programme, which is specifically tailored to address their fear, may help your dog overcome their anxiety.
- Preventative measures: All owners are strongly advised to have their cats microchipped. That way, if your cat manages to escape and run away despite all your precautions, there’s a better chance that you will be reunited thanks to the microchip. Even after the fireworks have passed their peak, your cat should stay indoors: experience shows that occasional fire crackers, rockets and flares can be set off well into the early hours of the morning. If there is a cat flap, it must be kept closed. To be on the safe side, all windows should be closed and you should close the curtains.
- In the home: Cats must have access to as many hiding places as possible. This means you should open doors to rooms that your cat wouldn’t normally have access to. This may include the bedroom, for instance, which could provide a hiding place in an open wardrobe.
- Calming music: Gentle, relaxing music has a soothing effect on cats. The best thing to do is to try out which music your cat reacts to in a relaxed way, (independently of any fireworks festivities) and to play it more often throughout the year.
- Give variety: Cat owners should keep their animals in a good mood. You usually know which game your house tiger loves. The game may not be forced on the cat, however.
- Pheromones: Similar to dogs, some pheromones also have a calming effect on cats.
- In case of stress: A cat showing signs of stress mustn’t be left alone. A human presence can be very comforting at this nerve-racking time. However, exaggerated emotional attention may not be helpful, even if it’s well-intentioned. If your feline friend doesn’t want to be petted to keep it calm, you should accept this. Talking to your cat too much can also be counterproductive. And as a caring owner, you shouldn’t yell at your stressed cat if it pees on the floor instead of the litter box.
Tips for small mammals – rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, etc.
Outdoor keeping: Animals that are usually kept outdoors all year should be brought into the home or some other quiet, enclosed space such as the garden shed on New Year’s Eve. If this isn’t possible, the cages must be arranged so that the bangs and flashes don’t frighten the animals. Placing thick blankets over the enclosure can be very helpful – but make sure there’s enough ventilation.
Housing: Guinea pigs, rabbits, etc. are very susceptible to stress. This means it’s even more important to keep the animals in a very quiet room during the fireworks. Noise insulation should be provided by blankets placed over the cages. Closing the curtains will also protect them from the frightening flashes. Give them an extra layer of bedding so they can hide more easily from any disturbance.
Tips for birds
Precautions: Bangs and flashes of light make birds panic. Their flight instinct will cause them to flutter about frantically in their cage, which puts them at risk of serious injury. The most calming environment for our feathered friends is a quiet room with closed curtains, blinds or shutters. The better the windows are covered, the less the birds will be troubled by the flashes of fireworks. Gentle music will also help to calm them.