Firework season | How to reduce your dog’s stress levels

Any celebration with fireworks can be a very anxious time for pets and their owners. And as we approach the yearly ‘firework season’, with Bonfire Night, Diwali and New Year’s Eve just around the corner, we wanted to share our tips for how to reduce the effects of stress on our pets during this time.

Understandably, the loud bangs and flashes can be very scary for our pets, resulting in a change in their behaviour, which may mean they become unpredictable, which can potentially put their safety at risk. A dog’s acute sense of hearing means that loud noises that are tolerable to us, might be uncomfortable and even traumatizing to them.

A Kennel Club report found that 80 per cent of owners notice a change in their dogs’ behaviour during fireworks season and nearly half (48 per cent) say that their dogs are scared by them. This can increase the risk of your dog bolting and getting lost – every owners worst nightmare!

If you know your dog is frightened by fireworks, you can plan ahead to help them feel calmer and more relaxed. Here are a few things to help reduce the stress in preparation for a night of fireworks –

  • Walk your dog in daylight hours, well before any fireworks may start
  •  Feed your dog earlier than usual, to ensure they get their meal before they potentially become too stressed to eat.
  • Make sure your house and garden are secure, to reduce the risk of your dog bolting and escaping due to fireworks.
  • Create a haven/hiding place for your dog where they will feel protected – even a den like the ones you used to make as a child out of blankets will help!
  • Shut all doors and windows, and draw the curtains as this muffles the sound and blocks out the flashes
  • Purchase a plug-in pheromone diffuser, such as Adaptil, which will release ‘calming messages’ to your dog, helping to reduce stress
  • If you know your dog is going to be significantly scared, you may opt for medication from your vet such as a sedative
  • Try to act normal, as your dog may pick up on your own anxious behaviour – send positive signals to your dog
  • Play music or have the TV on to cancel out any sounds from outside – Spotify even have a specialCalming Playlist for Dogs that is designed to promote relaxation during periods of stress such as fireworks!
  • Distract them with a new toy or long-lasting chew – take a look at Mr Kimbas range of long-lasting natural chews which are sure to distract your dog from the goings on outside!
  • Make sure your pet is microchipped and that it is up to date with the correct details, just in case they do go missing (heaven forbid!)
  • Never tell your dog off for being frightened and do not force them to face their fears

With more and more retail outlets, such as Sainsbury’s banning the sale of fireworks in their stores (click here to read the BBC article), due to the discomfort it brings to our pets, we hope the occurrence of fireworks starts to reduce.

However, some households unknowingly continue to cause stress to our beloved pets – why not download and colour in (great for the kids!) this poster from Dogs Trust and put it somewhere prominent on your street to remind your neighbours to be mindful?

We hope these tips help to get you prepared for the upcoming Guy Fawkes celebrations, but if your dog continues to be worryingly uncomfortable, he may need some longer-term treatment. We would recommend consulting your vet, who may refer your dog for treatment such as behavioural therapy with positive reinforcement techniques introduced.

Good luck, we are all in this together!