Keeping your pets calm and safe during fireworks

Although fireworks are mostly set off at public events for Bonfire Night, New Years Eve, Diwali and Chinese New Year, there’s no knowing when a private display could go off near your home. While there are strict UK laws on the use of fireworks, this doesn’t avoid the distress they can cause for our pets.

Below you will find some useful information to help prepare for fireworks season and reduce the distress they can cause.

Are they microchipped?

If your pet is scared and runs away from home, there is more chance of you being reunited if they are microchipped. Make sure your details are up to date. Adding your details to a tag on their collar will also increase the chance of a speedy reunion.

How do you know if an animal is stressed?

The most common signs of stress in your pet can include:

  • Aggressive/destructive behaviour
  • Uncontrolled grooming, biting or scratching
  • Excessive vocalisation (barking/meowing)
  • Ears pushed back/forward or dilated pupils
  • Hiding behind furniture
  • An increase or decrease in appetite
  • Going to the toilet inside the house/diarrhoea
  • Restless, heavy breathing or trembling
  • Trying to run away
  • Clinginess

What can you do if your pet is scared of Fireworks?


Practice Socialisation

Getting your pet to become familiar with the outside world from a young age will help them build confidence and grow up to be calm and sure-footed.


Positive Reinforcement

Instead of reacting to their anxious behaviour, reward their good behaviour.


Change their walkies routine

If possible start going for a walk before it gets dark, the earlier the better. If you can only go for a walk when it dark, keep your dog on a lead in case they are startled and run away.


Use plugin diffusers

Calming pet diffusers can help ease pet stress and anxiety. Try and place a few around the house in preparation, as these can take a few weeks to take effect. Your vet can help choose an option that suits your pet best.


Make changes gradually

If you’re going to alter your pet’s routine, it’s best to make gradual changes. Since the aim is to reduce their stress levels, it is advised to not suddenly change routes, timings or living conditions.

Keep your cat indoors

A cat will most likely be very scared when faced with fireworks, and could flee in the opposite direction from home if panicked. Don’t forget to lock the cat flap and set up their litter tray while they’re indoors!


Create a calm environment

Make sure you shut windows, curtains and blinds to reduce noise and bright flashes. Somewhere quiet and dark would be ideal. Fill an area with their favourite things: toys, food, water, comfy bedding (and most likely you). Give them the option to leave the area if they want to.


Stay at home

If possible, try to ensure that somebody is at home. If left alone, your pet could become stressed and destructive.


Keep them occupied

Toys and treats are a great distraction. Long-lasting chews and mental stimulation games can be a great way of keeping your pet busy.


ThunderShirts & Adaptil collars

A ThunderShirt is a body wrap that gently applies constant pressure, intended to naturally calm down an anxious or over-excited animal. There is research on both animals and humans to suggest that hug-like pressure releases calming hormones.

Adaptil Calm collars work by releasing a pheromone that calms the dog or cat that’s wearing them. Body warmth activates the collar by promoting pheromone diffusion into the nearby environment.

Small animals

With small animals like guinea pigs, rabbits and birds, it’s best to keep them indoors. If this isn’t possible, placing a blanket over part of their hutch may dampen/muffle some of the noise and give them a place to hide. If they are outside, then turn their hutch/enclosure to face a solid surface, rather than left facing the open sky. Make sure you also give them extra bedding to burrow into.

Outdoor animals

Bigger animals like horses and ponies may be a little more difficult to care for in fireworks season. Check if any firework shows are happening locally. It’s best to keep them in an environment they are familiar with, unless there is definite danger of fireworks being set off nearby. If you are sure of a fireworks display near their enclosure and there is no alternative, ensure that someone can keep an eye on them to make sure they are safe and monitor their behaviour.


Fireworks will startle wild animals too. When fleeing, animals may injure themselves or abandon their nests. If you are setting off fireworks, make sure you keep away from nature reserves and woodland.

Hedgehogs and other small critters are also at risk if they decide to use an unlit bonfire as a home. Build bonfires as near to the event date as possible and make sure you check the bonfire before lighting it.

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Extra Resources & Information


Treating a phobia of fireworks (Animal Behaviourists)

A clinical animal behaviourist may be able to treat firework phobia and reduce your pets’ suffering over time. The results can leave your pet much less stressed about fireworks and other anxiety-provoking parts of life.


Dogs Trust Sound Association

Sound Therapy 4 Pets


The Blue Cross provide advice on socialisation:

Socialising Puppies

Socialising Kittens


The PDSA’s 2018 Paw Report

Approximately 40% of cat and dog owners reported their pets as being scared by fireworks, since their senses are much more heightened than our own. Loud noises, flashes and the smell of fireworks can be worrying.


Sainsburys bans fireworks across all stores

Retail Gazette Article


What are the UK’s Laws on Fireworks?

  • You must not set off or throw fireworks (including sparklers) in the street or other public places
  • It’s illegal for under 18s to possess fireworks in a public place
  • Private firework displays can only happen between 7am & 11pm, except on Bonfire Night (until midnight) and New Years Eve, Diwali & Chinese New Year (until 1am).
  • It is an offence to cause any unnecessary suffering to any captive or domestic animal
  • Unless a special licence is possessed, retailers can only sell fireworks from 15th October to 10th November & 26th to 31st December

Find out more about the UK laws

Image Attribution: Fireworks Vectors by Vecteezy