Fireworks are an integral part of various celebrations throughout the year, including Bonfire Night, Diwali and New Year’s. In addition to large-scale public events, there are an increasing number of private fireworks displays as well, with these potentially taking place at any time of year. This isn’t good news for pets, who often find fireworks distressing and overwhelming. A 2021 survey found that nearly two-thirds of pet owners felt that private fireworks can be disruptive within residential neighbourhoods. But there’s a lot pet owners can do to help them feel safe and secure during firework festivities. This can prevent unfortunate incidents like dogs bolting from houses and gardens and becoming lost or getting hit by cars.

Think like a dog: it’s not surprising that fireworks can be startling for dogs. We know to expect the displays around holidays, but our dogs won’t know what’s happening when loud, sporadic sounds start ringing out in their neighbourhoods. To them, these unpredictable noises can be perceived as potential threats. Recognising this is the first step to offering our pets the comfort they seek.

Image of a scared dog for Vets Now article on how to get dogs used to fireworks

Keep an eye on your dog’s feelings and needs: dogs express anxiety in various ways, from pacing and panting to trembling or barking, and these signs aren’t always necessarily overt. Being attuned to your dog’s specific body language will allow you to step in early and provide reassurance. Ensure your dog is well-exercised and fed before the festivities begin. This helps them feel content and possibly a bit drowsy.

Stay extra safe: always keep your dog on a lead during firework seasons, and ensure they wear ID tags and are microchipped. This provides an added layer of security.

Control the environment: Gradually introducing your dog to recorded firework sounds can help desensitise them. Resources from organisations like the Dog’s Trust offer free sound-based treatment programmes to ease this process. Playing loud music or TV with similar sounds in it can mask the sound of fireworks when they happen. When you know fireworks are upcoming, design a comforting space for them with their favourite toys and blankets. This familiar environment can be a sanctuary amidst the unfamiliar sounds.

Consider medications and additional products: If you have concerns about your dog’s anxiety levels, consider booking an online consultation with our vets. They can offer guidance tailored to your pet’s specific needs. From calming collars to thundershirts that apply gentle pressure, there are various products available to help soothe your dog’s nerves. Remember always to consult with your vet before trying any new product.

Your presence is often the best reassurance your pet can have. Comforting them with gentle words, strokes, or simply being there can make a world of difference. With a little preparation and understanding, we can help our furry companions navigate firework nights with greater ease and confidence.