Dogs and Fireworks
The fireworks season is fast approaching and it’s time for dog owners to take precautions to keep their dog calm and safe in what can be a stressful time of year for canines. The relationship between dogs and fireworks is well known and the RSPCA estimate that up to 45% of dogs in the UK show signs of fear when they hear fireworks. Studies also show that dogs are more likely to be develop a fear as they get older with the peak time of anxiety being 3 – 4 years old.
We look at when you’re likely to see fireworks in the UK, what you can do to help animals if you’re using fireworks, and most importantly – how to calm your dog during fireworks. There are some fantastic products available to help dogs who suffer from anxiety with fireworks and we’ve reviewed the best options. Anxiety in dogs can get worse over time if not treated properly and promptly so make sure you plan in advance for fireworks season.
Fireworks Events in the UK
It’s important to remember that November the 5th isn’t the only day when fireworks are common in the UK. Fireworks are becoming more and more popular so be prepared for the possibility of fireworks any time from October to January. Here are some popular events when you’re likely to hear fireworks in your area.
- October 31st – Halloween: Halloween is usually considered the start of the fireworks season. Halloween is becoming a much more popular event in the UK over recent years and many people like to celebrate with fireworks. You may start to hear fireworks in the week running up to Halloween as people throw parties.
- November 5th – Bonfire Night: Bonfire night in 2017 falls on a Sunday so expect plenty of fireworks all across that weekend and in the weeks before and after as people may have fireworks parties the weekend before or the weekend after Guy Fawkes Night.
- December 20th to December 30th – Christmas Holidays: Fireworks are becoming increasingly popular over the festive period. Whether it’s people using their leftovers from bonfire night or are just using fireworks to celebrate the Christmas Holidays – you can usually expect to see fireworks at the end of December. They will be less regular than at Halloween or Bonfire Night so may take your dog by surprise.
- December 31st & January 1st – New Years: The second most popular time for fireworks, after Bonfire Night itself, is New Year’s Eve. It’s a particularly bad night for dogs as many people will be out celebrating, leaving their pets home alone to deal with the noise of fireworks. We don’t recommend leaving your dog alone, even for a few hours, if they show signs of anxiety with fireworks. Sporadic fireworks may also be heard in the early days of January as people use what they have left over.
Advice for Pet Friendly Fireworks Usage
- Try to avoid using fireworks on days or times when they are not expected. Most pet owners prepare for fireworks on Bonfire Night and New Year’s Eve but setting them off on other dates or late in the night or earlier in the day can cause unnecessary alarm for pets and people alike.
- If you are planning on setting off fireworks on a non-traditional day, try to give the local neighborhood some warning so they can prepare their pets. This is especially important if you live in a usually quiet area or near to farmland with lots of animals.
- Fireworks are about the sights, not the sounds. Lower noise fireworks are now available and we recommend using these wherever possible to reduce noise pollution.
- Litter and debris left after fireworks can be dangerous for animals so make sure to clean up thoroughly and safely after a display. Things like sparkler debris in the garden should be removed promptly, especially if you have pets that use the area.
- Be very careful if building a bonfire as it can look like a very attractive place to rest for wild animals such as hedgehogs. Don’t build your bonfire a long time before you plan on lighting it as this gives animals a chance to hide within it. Always make sure to check carefully before lighting. We recommend disturbing the bonfire by moving it around before lighting in order to scare any animals away.
How to Calm Your Dog During Fireworks
- Plan ahead. Starting to plan for fireworks early in October is strongly recommended. Stock up on any dog calming products you may need. Serious anxiety in dogs can take 4-8 weeks to properly treat so don’t leave it until fireworks night to look for a remedy.
- Walk your dog during the day rather than at night so that you can keep them indoors in the evening when fireworks are more likely to be heard.
- Treat your dog as normal. Don’t smother your dog when they show signs up fear as this can cause dependency and make your dog unable to cope when you’re not around. But also don’t ignore your dog, try to treat them as normal and play with them as though the fireworks aren’t happening.
- Create a safe place. Try to find the quietest room in the house that your dog can use as a safe place. Leave them toys, treats and a nice comfy bed in the safe place so they associate it with positive experiences. Encourage them to use this area for comfort if startled by fireworks.
- Allow your dog to hide. If you dog goes to hide in their safe place or elsewhere when the fireworks start. Don’t try to force them out. Allow them to hide but stay nearby so they know they’re safe.
- Close windows and curtains to reduce the sounds and sights of fireworks. Play music or turn the volume up on the TV and try not to react to the fireworks yourself.
- Be reassuring at all times. Never punish your pets for acting scared, it’s a perfectly natural response and punishing them will only make them more scared.
- Use Sound Therapy. Dogs Trust have a free sound therapy kit which is a scientifically proven safe, effective and easy to use therapy to get your dog accustomed to loud noises like fireworks.
- Seek professional advice. If your dog shows severe signs of anxiety with fireworks, it is always worth consulting your vet. They will likely recommend one of the dog calming products that we have reviewed here.
- Use dog calming products. There are several great products that offer long term or short term remedies for anxiety in dogs. Some of the the best options can be found below.
Dog Calming Products for Fireworks
Following our tips above will hopefully help your dog through fireworks season but there are also some fantastic dog calming products that we highly recommend to keep your dog happy and safe.
The Adaptil Diffuser can be plugged in to any room in your house and will release calming pheromones to reduce stress in dogs and puppies. It’s proven to safely calm dogs down when faced with stresses like the loud noises of fireworks. The diffuser is a long term remedy for anxiety and can be used over the entire fireworks season.
Each plug in diffuser lasts about 30 days but we also sell a diffuser refill to help last you through fireworks season. We recommend plugging the diffuser in the room where your dog spends most of their time or in their safe place if they have one.
Adaptil Stress Relief Tablets are a fantastic short term treatment for anxiety in dogs. The tablets contain natural ingredients and are a non-pheromone calming aid. They give quick results and can be administered just two hours before they are needed to work making them perfect for events like Bonfire Night and New Year’s Eve.
Even if your dog doesn’t usually suffer from anxiety, it can be worth stocking up on these tablets in case of emergency. The Adaptil tablets can be combined with the Adaptil diffuser for particularly anxious dogs.
Calm and relax dog treats are all natural, ethical, low-calorie, gluten-free, hand-baked mini-bones that dogs love. They contain chamomile to naturally relax your dog and are perfect for use at stressful times such as Bonfire Night. These treats are a short term remedy for anxiety in dogs.
These treats will not only help calm your dog but a nice treat will also help your dog associate the fireworks with a positive experience. They contain an ingredient called L-Tryptophan which helps form the ‘feel good’ neurotransmitter, serotonin, to make your dog nice and happy! Make sure to feed these treats as part of a balanced diet and don’t overfeed.
Fireworks and Other Animals
This article focuses on dogs and fireworks but other animals are also affected by fireworks and must not be forgotten. Cats and even small pets can suffer from anxiety from the sound and sight of fireworks.
- For cats that like to roam outside, it is best to keep them inside at night during fireworks season to keep them safe.
- If you have small animals that live outside like a rabbit in a hutch, consider bringing them inside on Bonfire Night and New Year’s Eve if possible.
- If it’s not possible to bring them inside, you can provide extra bedding for them to burrow and hide in and cover the hutch with a blanket for soundproofing.
- For cats, there’s the feliway diffuser which will calm your cat by means of pheromones in the same way that adaptil does for dogs.
We hope this blog will come in useful when it comes to dogs and fireworks. Remember to deal with signs of anxiety in dogs as soon as possible. Anxiety can get worse over time if not treated promptly and properly. Here you can find our full range of dog anxiety products but for any more advice, feel free to contact Farm and Pet Place on 01492 542662 .