A little boy holds a sparkler while carrying his Beagle but this small firework could be unsafe for his pet to be so close to

Fireworks and Pets: Why They Hate It and How to Keep Them Safe

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When it comes to pet safety and fireworks this festive season it’s important to be clued up. Cats, dogs and fireworks simply don’t mix. We all know that most dogs and cats don’t like fireworks, but do we know why? Is it just because they’re super loud or are other factors involved?

While we hunker down to plan a holiday itinerary for Christmas and New Year’s Eve, let’s do the same around fireworks safety. Because fireworks equal loud bangs, big flashes and sad/scared woofs and meows. If you want your fur baby to enjoy the holidays as much as you, it’s a great idea to paws for thought and plan ahead.

Read on for more…

People looking at a fireworks display

Why do cats and dogs hate fireworks?

Before we launch into how to keep your beloved fur kid safe this holiday season, let’s look at just why fireworks upset them so much.

Of course, few pet parents would ever take their pets to an area to watch fireworks but sometimes our homes or holiday spots may be close to the action.

Supersonic hearing

Even when our pets are far from fireworks they can still be unnerving. Dogs’ and cats’ hearing can be several times stronger than ours. Dogs can hear sounds four times further away than we can, and cats even further than that!

When you’re sitting in your living room at home, the sound of fireworks may sound like distant, faraway bangs. But for your pet they can sound like they’re happening right next to them. The combination of booming explosions, crackling pops, and whistling whizzes can be very disorienting and frightening.

Lights, action and smells

What’s more, they’re unpredictable. Fireworks go off at random times and your pet won’t understand what’s happening or why. It makes them feel helpless.

If your home is close enough to the action, your pet may also experience the flashing lights of fireworks. Their vision is different from ours and the unfamiliar lights can be disorienting and overwhelming. Fireworks also have a strong smell that will be strange and scary to them.

That’s why it’s so important to plan ahead …

A Jack Russell terrier against the sky.

Pet safety with fireworks is possible… plan ahead

While getting excited about the fun times to come, give yourself time to evaluate and plan. Think about the facts and consider what choices you can make upfront to save your pet (and you) gnarly consequences later.

Here’s our checklist for planning ahead:

Microchipping

Vets, councils and rescue centres receive an influx of lost pets over the festive season. This applies to cats and dogs who sometimes bolt in times of fright, as well as other animals like guinea pigs and birds.

Even German Shepherds – who are famed for their aptitude as police dogs due to their naturally protective nature – have run away from home to escape all the commotion. They’ll go to extreme measures and have been known to dislocate a hip (temporarily) to escape through narrow rungs of a gate during holiday fireworks.

Microchipping your pet is a clever move to make right from the beginning. That way there’s less stress involved in wondering where Bella is or what might have happened to Charlie. If your lost pet has a microchip, you have a much greater chance of quickly being reunited.

Here’s what you need to know about a microchip for your dog and microchip for your cat.

ginger cat having microchip put in

Collar tags

Even if you’re planning to go the microchip way, it’s a good idea to make sure your fur baby also has a tag or some form of identification. When a good Samaritan finds a lost pet, they need to know who to contact right away. Usually only vets have microchip readers.

You’re simply making reunification with your lost pet faster and more efficient. Shelters already care for hundreds of thousands of animals each year. Let’s quash those numbers by helping concerned citizens to locate you quickly and smoothly as a pet owner.

Read more on how to find lost pets.

Pheromone diffusers

The pheromone diffuser mimics the smell of a pet’s biological mum and can have a calming effect. Using one in a central location at home can be a great way to encourage your furry loved one to stay put during fireworks even if you’re out and about.

They can help your pet deal with noise phobias, separation anxiety and travel, among other stressful situations.

Like people, pets have predispositions, natural tendencies, and preferences. So, try out diffusers in advance to check the efficacy for your paw pal.

pet safety and fireworks will keep this cat feeling happy

Medication

If you already know your pet is highly anxious, seek advice from a vet who can prescribe products to counter these reactions and imbue a feeling of calm. Your vet knows your pet’s medical history and can prescribe the safest and most efficient medication for them according to their breed, age, size and overall health.

Animals who experience pet separation anxiety are also more likely to react more adversely to loud fireworks. If medication is the answer to protecting your furbaby, then giving them the soft landing they deserve is well worth it.

Potential damage if pet safety and fireworks is ignored

Our pets face dangers before, during and after fireworks are lit. And it’s not just them who can feel the pang. It isn’t just the obvious, immediate concerns around pet safety and fireworks that you must consider.

During a firework frenzy, meowers and woofers can get up to all kinds of out-of-character nonsense. Think eating the double-down feather duvets at a holiday guest house where you’re staying. And what do you do if (horror) your fur baby bites a guest in their panic?

Luckily, third party liability in pet insurance is included in all our pet insurance plans. So, if anything like this happens, we’ve got you covered.

A women plays with her pup on Christmas to help them keep calm and feel safe despite the sound of fireworks

How to make Christmas and New Year’s Eve safer

Pet safety and fireworks together may sound like an anomaly, but it’s well within reach. Cats and dogs are highly sensitive to your mood. If you formulate a well-devised plan and set things in place, you’ll brim with confidence.
Naturally, this will rub off on your pet.

Here’s our guide to happily combining pet safety and fireworks on the day: 

Exercise your pet 

Besides being stimulating, the pheromones released through exercising get rid of excess energy and have a calming effect after the fact. If you have a dog breed like a Border Collie or German Shepherd that require more exercise and longer walks, read about our DIY dog walking kit.

Not sure of your dog’s exercise levels? Then read about dog exercise requirements by breed.

Exercise early

Timing is everything, so try for a morning walk. This way you’ll be back at home hopefully long before the crackers start. And bear in mind that Christmas and New Year’s Eve fireworks often go bang well before dusk.

Since summer also means rising mercury, morning walks are best for your furkid’s temperature control too.
Here’s more on how to keep pets safe in summer.

pet golden doodle dog barking at the loud sound of fireworks making him feel scared and unsafe

Bring your pets indoors

The more protected they are from the noise the safer they’ll be. Fireworks don’t just scare pets; the volume of the explosions can be painful too. Remember, sound waves are actually physical waves that enter your eardrum causing vibrations that are then experienced as sound. That’s why the physics of loud bangs can cause pain and even tinnitus.

Prepare a safe space

Draw the curtains, close the blinds. Prepare a toy and any extras such as one of your blankets with familiar comforting smells. Giving your dog or cat reassurance by tailoring their environment is priceless. If your pet has a crate, consider draping a thick blanket over it (just make sure it doesn’t obstruct them from going in or out) to help dampen the sounds.

Here’s more on crate training a puppy.

Stay together

When it comes to pet safety and fireworks, if you can, be with your pet. Solidarity is priceless. Act natural. This will give them a cue that the danger is less real than it seems. If they try to hide, let them (inside the house, obviously!). It’s super important they can follow this instinct without being instructed otherwise.

Put gentle music on

Playing music can create an ambient, calm atmosphere and drown out outside sounds. Especially familiar music. Talk radio or TV can work, too. For dogs, there’s even a dog TV channel tail-ored for them. Amazon Prime has a channel for cats, too. The sound can help to offset the noise of big bangs outside.

A dog and cat look fearfully out the window at the bright flashes of fireworks

Cats, dogs and fireworks – are both species scared?

When it comes to cats, dogs and fireworks – dogs are generally more scared of fireworks than cats. This may be because dogs are more likely to be social animals and rely on their owners for comfort and safety. When dogs are scared, they may seek out their owners for reassurance. Cats, on the other hand, are more independent animals and are more likely to try to cope with their fear on their own.

Of course, not all dogs are afraid of fireworks and not all cats are not afraid of fireworks. Their individual personality, their past experiences and their training all play a part.

this pet's safety could be at risk from the fireworks debris, should he accidentally eat any of it

Your pet’s safety after fireworks have finished

According to our latest research, one of Australian pet parents’ worst fears is their pet eating something they shouldn’t and getting sick. It’s not unfounded either, accidental ingestion is one of our most common insurance claims.

  • Blockage risks. Christmas crackers, party poppers and fireworks tend to leave behind unwanted debris. While pets eat lots of weird stuff, firecracker leftovers should never be on the menu.
  • Toxic substances. There’s also the real danger of a pet eating a discarded firework that still contains explosives and/or toxic substances. If this happens your pet will need to see a vet right away.

Now that you know plenty about pet safety and fireworks, here’s an added layer for your dog’s or cat’s soft landing…

Add pet insurance to your fireworks safety plan

At PD Insurance, our dog insurance and cat insurance plans cover a range of treatments for accidents, illnesses, allergies and more. We’ve written an article for you on pet plan shopping to help make the decision making process clearer – why not make this your next read? 

Take two minutes to get a simple, free pet insurance quote. If you decide to buy, we’ll give you one or more months of FREE pet insurance. Click below.

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