How to Keep Pets Safe & Happy in Firework & Party Season

Most readers of a certain age will remember the annual November 5th warnings about fireworks on Blue Peter, particularly in relation to our four-legged friends.  In recent years the the singular event of Guy Fawkes/Bonfire Night has been extended into a whole season of fireworks throughout autumn and winter, with everything from Diwali, Hallowe'en and New Year to birthday parties and Christmas dos involving an ooh and aah-inducing display of pyrotechnics.

Unfortunately one thing which hasn't changed is our pets' reactions to such events.  Loud noises, crowds and unfamiliar situations and happenings are stressful for pets at the best of times, but in combination they can be absolutely terrifying.  Here are some ways to help your pet cope:

Escape route

Make sure they have a familiar and quiet place to escape to or hide away in.  This might involve bringing rabbits into the shed or garage, even the house; moving smaller rodents to the quietest part of the house; or simply providing access to a quiet place for larger pets to run off to.

Make sure they have some of their favourite possessions, such as toys or blankets, both for familiarity and comfort.  Put food, water and perhaps a litter tray in accessible places.  For cats and dogs especially, it would be worth setting this quiet place up a couple of weeks in advance so that they can become familiar with it.  Spend some time there together, playing or cuddling, so your pet has positive associations with this spot.

When there are potentially going to be fireworks around, it is best to keep your pet in after nightfall.  Secure any cat flaps, close the windows and draw the curtains.  This will help to muffle the sound, and having the TV or some music on may help distract from the outside noises too.  If the flashes and noises are still frightening, be sure to reassure your pet, and maybe accompany them to their safe place.  Distract with toys and even treats if it helps!


By their very nature fireworks will be frightening and confusing for pets.  Loud sporadic noises with no obvious source must be terrifying!  The use of pheromone products such as Feliway for cats may be useful before and during the event.  You could also try the Quiet Fireworks, a great idea for fireworks parties involving babies and children too.

Decorate safely

A lot of party decorations can be potential hazards to pets, with glass baubles and strings of fairy lights topping the list.  Make sure wires and cables are hidden away or taped down as much as possible, hang glass ornaments high up if you must use them at all, and consider what might look enticing from your pet's viewpoint.  Like babyproofing your home, the best way to do this is on your hands and knees!  Candles are another no-no with most cats and dogs, be very cautious.

Avoid the traditional plants of Poinsettia, holly and mistletoe, unless you can be sure they are well out of your cats' reach, as they are all poisonous to felines.  Some types of pine needles can also be mildly toxic.  And hopefully it goes without saying to keep any Christmas tree decorations or treats away from dogs.

During the party

Make sure you check on your pet regularly, to ensure they know you are still there, and to check they are not getting too frightened, or indeed over-stimulated.  Make some time for play too, and remember to take your dog for a short walk after everyone has gone home.

Enjoy the party, but make sure your pet does too!

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