At Ace Canine we've been doing lots of work on Fireworks planning by promoting, guiding and reassuring owners with our Settlers product. Whether you love or hate fireworks season and that creates a huge debate - we're sharing the logical and sensible guidance from the PDSA below to help keep dogs safe.
Why are dogs scared of fireworks?
The bright flashes and loud bangs of fireworks might be exciting for humans, but can be really scary for dogs. This is because it’s difficult for them to understand that they aren’t in danger when they hear/see them, and their senses are much better than ours – so they experience fireworks much more intensely than we do!
Signs of fear in dogs
- Trembling and shaking
- Cowering and hiding behind furniture
- Being clingy
- Trying to run away
- Destructive behaviour e.g. chewing furniture
- Toileting in the house
- Refusing to eat
- Small changes in their normal behaviour – some dogs don’t show such obvious signs
Getting ready for fireworks season
Here are a few things you can do to prepare for firework season:
- Ensure your dog’s microchip details are up-to-date to give you a better chance of being reunited if they run away from home.
- Check the dates of any nearby firework displays.
- Make sure you have curtains/blinds on all your windows so you can block out fireworks flashes.
How to keep your dog calm on fireworks night
Here are our top tips to keep your dog safe and calm on fireworks night:
- Walk them whilst it’s still light and get home well before dark, before fireworks are likely to start. A longer walk with plenty of opportunity to sniff and explore will tire your dog and help them to relax.
- Close your curtains before dark and leave the lights on to hide the flashes.
- Play some music to help drown out fireworks noises. Classical can work well, or something with a deep bass to help cover up any bangs – just make sure it’s at a volume your dog is comfortable with (not too loud)! It’s worth starting this a few days/weeks ahead so your dog gets used to the music before fireworks night. Try one of our calming pet playlists:
- Stick to normal routines and behave normally but, if it helps, distract them with something fun such as a game, a puzzle feeder, or a toy stuffed with food.
- Make them a den to hide in if they wish – check out our instructions below.
- Comfort them if they come to you for reassurance - don’t ignore them, but if they want to be alone, let them (just keep a close eye on them).
- Watch them around other pets because they might be more irritable than normal if they are scared.
- Wait for a gap in the fireworks to take your dog out to the toilet, be as quick as possible and keep them on a lead at all times. Never let them out on their own during fireworks season - it’s common for dogs to bolt from their garden after being startled by a firework.
- Keep them calm and relaxed with pheromones, which are chemical messages that dogs produce to communicate with each other, some of which help them feel calm. You can help your dog feel extra calm by using a pheromone diffuser, collar, or spray, which contain man-made 'happy' dog pheromones. For the best effect, plug a diffuser in a few weeks before firework season and keep it topped up until the season has ended. If you’re using a spray for more immediate effect, give it 15 minutes to settle before allowing your dog into the room to allow the alcohol in it to evaporate (it’s not dangerous, dogs just don’t like the smell).
- Use calming supplements and herbal remedies to help your dog relax. These work in a variety of ways, depending on their specific ingredients. Some supplements are more effective than others, and each dog responds differently, so if one type doesn't suit your dog, you may find that a different brand works better.
- Try a compression shirt, which is a tight-fitting vests that provide a gentle calming pressure (similar to swaddling a baby) to help soothe anxiety. Only use a compression shirt if your dog is comfortable with it as it could cause further distress if they feel too restricted.
- Never punish your dog for anything they do when they’re scared – this will just scare them more.
- Speak to your vet for advice if your dog is still scared of fireworks despite all of these steps. They might be able to prescribe some medication to help, but you’ll need to do this in advance so you’ve got time to find the most suitable medication for your dog.
- information shared from www.pdsa.org.uk