Firework safety for you and your pet

Bonfire night, and the run up to it, can be a very traumatic time for pets.  Dogs, cats and rabbits have much better hearing than us and this can cause great distress for them during firework season. Watching our pets scared or anxious is upsetting for us too.

Symptoms of fear and anxiety

  • Shaking or trembling
  • Barking or howling
  • Loss of appetite
  • Hiding
  • Excessive drooling
  • Trying to escape or running away
  • Passing urine and faeces in inappropriate places

Common causes of fear and anxiety around this time

  • Loud noises
  • Bright flashes in the sky
  • Fire
  • More people than usual
  • Different smells in the air

How we can help

If you're a policyholder, our Pet Health Helpline, 03333 32 19 47, if you are unsure or worried and our expert vet nurses will advise you on what to do next.

Registered Veterinary Nurse Carolanne has these handy tips for limiting the effects of firework phobia:

  • “Walk your dog before it gets dark and make sure cats and rabbits are indoors before the sun sets.”
  • “Create a safe “den” for your pet, somewhere they can go and hide if they want to be on their own that is warm and dark.”
  • “Keep your pets in a room with the lights on and curtains shut so they are less likely to be startled by the bright flashes outside. Keep some background noise on – the TV or radio – to help drown out the noises.”
  • “Although it’s natural to want to comfort your pet try not to fuss them too much – provide reassurance but don’t pick them up or cuddle them as this may contribute to their fear.”

Prevention of firework induced stress and anxiety

Once you realise your pet has a fear of fireworks it’s usually too late to prevent it but, with careful planning, you could make next year a calmer experience for you both!  Try using a CD that plays the noises of fireworks in the back ground in the run up to firework season. Start off quietly so the dog will hardly notice them and over the course of a few weeks increase the volume. This should help desensitise them to the loud screeches and bangs.  Use pheromone products and nutritional supplements, all of which the nurses on the Pet Health Helpline can advise on, at least 4 weeks in advance to give them the best chance of working and ensure your pet is microchipped and the details are up to date in case they do run off after a fright.

Be aware of your surroundings

If you are hosting a fireworks event, please be aware of the animals around you. It is natural that you will ensure your own pet is well cared for but there may be horses and other farm animals nearby who could easily be spooked by the loud noises. There have been many cases where horses and livestock have panicked and been killed by their subsequent frantic actions. Another thing to consider is wildlife in your bonfire, remember to check any wood piles, in particular for hedgehogs, before lighting them.

If you are cincerened about your pets health please call our dedicated team of Veterinary Nurses who, when you quote your policy number, can talk through your pet’s symptoms. They are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and can be contacted on 03333 32 19 47.

Pet Health Helpline should be used as a first port of call if you are worried and they will recommend if you need to go to the vets or not, the service is not indented to be used in place of going to your vet and if you are very concerned about your pet do not hesitate in going to your vet immediately.