Many pets are affected by fireworks, and you can help them by ensuring you keep them as relaxed and comfortable as possible while they’re going off. As well as the obvious dangers, be aware that some pets can get very scared and run off, sometimes resulting in serious injuries or getting lost. Every year we see pets who have been involved in road traffic accidents after being spooked by fireworks and running into the road. Thousands more need medication for stress.

Here we list some of the dos and don’ts for pet owners when fireworks are going off.

Dos

Dos

You should:

  • keep your pet indoors with windows and doors securely closed
  • leave internal doors open so they don’t feel trapped
  • try to soundproof your house, such as drawing curtains
  • provide background “white noise” such as the TV, radio or other music — it’s wise to start this in advance of the fireworks starting
  • ensure your pet has access to a place where he can go and settle if he’s distressed — this may be his usual bed but you can also offer an alternative such as a blanket under a table with some of your old clothes as this will provide somewhere to hide and will be a comfort to your pet
  • let cats hide where they like — don’t try to tempt them out
  • if your cat is scared, don’t pick him up or restrain him
  • take your dog for his usual walk before the fireworks are set off and ensure he’s kept on a lead at all times, especially if you’re in any doubt about whether the noise of a firework may cause him to bolt
  • feed him as normal as this may help to settle him down
  • ensure your pet is wearing ID so that if he does run away there’s a greater chance of him being returned to you
  • ensure your dog is microchipped and wears a collar and tag — these are both legal requirements
  • praise your pet as this will help reassure him
  • comfort your pet if he is acting scared
Don'ts

Don'ts

You shouldn’t:

  • take your dog to a fireworks display or walk your pet while fireworks are being set off, as this will often cause distress — remember your pet doesn’t have to be showing obvious signs such as shaking or whimpering to be distressed
  • tie your dog up outside if fireworks are being set off
  • let your dog off the lead near a fireworks display
  • leave your pet alone if he’s distressed — just like us, our pets seek comfort in numbers, so your presence will help reassure him
  • shout at your pet if he’s destructive as a result of distress — this will only upset him more

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What is the law on fireworks?

It’s illegal to:

  • buy “adult” fireworks if you’re under 18
  • set off fireworks between 11pm and 7am, except on Bonfire Night, when the cut off is midnight, and New Year’s Eve, Diwali and Chinese New Year, when the cut off is 1am
  • set off or throw fireworks, including sparklers, in the street or other public places

 

When can I buy fireworks?

You can only buy fireworks, including sparklers, from registered sellers for private use on:

  • 15 October to 10 November
  • 26 to 31 December
  • three days before Diwali and Chinese New Year

At all other times, you can only buy fireworks from licensed shops. Check with your council to find out about any local rules for setting off fireworks and remember, you can be fined up to £5,000 and imprisoned for up to six months for selling or using fireworks illegally. You could also get an on-the-spot fine of £90.