How To Keep Pets Safe And Calm During Fireworks

How To Keep Pets Safe And Calm During Fireworks

Adobe Stock: Vince Scherer

4th of July is just around the corner, and many people celebrate by having a barbecue with friends and family and finish the celebration with fireworks. However, for pets it is a very stressful time due to the loud booms and whistling firecrackers.

Fireworks are the number one anxiety inducing trigger for pets - even over separation anxiety and thunder - according to a study performed by Rover.

Photo: Pixabay/jameslee

Every year, countless terrified pets run away from their homes during firework celebrations. Rover recently published a study that found fireworks trigger fear and anxiety in 74% of dogs 73% of cats, which may come as no surprise to pet parents. 


Adobe Stock:  Photoboyko

Nearly half (42%) of the dog owners surveyed say that their dog has tried to run away, and 34% say their pet’s attempt was successful.  

Photo: Pexels/wolfart

It is not just dogs impacted by the loud noises. 64% of cat parents surveyed say their feline has tried to run away during fireworks.

Photo: Pexels/Magda Ehlers

It is vital as a pet parent to ensure our furry friends are safe and as calm as can be during these stressful times.

Silent fireworks would be a perfect solution for both pets and veterans who are bothered by the loud booms. We hope they will be the new normal in the near future. In the meantime, there are some steps you can take to make summer celebrations more tolerable for your pet.

Photo: Rover

Nicole Ellis, a professional dog trainer and a member of Rover’s Dog People Panel, shared with us how to help pets cope with fireworks. Nicole has been training all kinds of animals for the past fifteen years and has even taught her rescue dog, Maggie, over 100 commands including handstands. She told us that the 16-year-old rescue dog still loves to go for hikes (short ones and then likes to be carried) and perform tricks. 

How to Keep Pets Safe During Fireworks

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What NOT to do:

  • Do NOT go for a walk in the evening or late afternoon when fireworks are more likely to be going off. 
  • Do NOT force your pet to come out of their hiding spot.
  • Do NOT have your dog or cat outside during fireworks. 

What to do:

  • Exercise (walk and outdoor play) early and keep a tight hold on leash in case of fireworks.
  • Bring treats on early walk to use to focus your dog if they hear a loud boom. 
  • Provide a safe and relaxing space indoors, like a crate.
  • Make sure all doors and windows are closed and put your pet in a separate room when guests are entering or leaving the house. 
  • Cancel out loud noises by shutting windows and turning on music or television.
  • Use a pressure vest (like Thundershirt) to help calm your pet.
  • Give your pet an interactive toy like a KONG or lick mat with a tasty treat. *Nicole shares that licking and chewing reduces stress in our pets.
  • Use dog headphones (yes, they make noise-cancelling ones!).
  • Play fetch indoors or give your active dog another "job" to do when fireworks start.  
  • Talk to your vet if your dog is really stressed for anxiety meds or CBD.
  • Make sure your pet's microchip and tags have accurate and readable information just in case they slip out the door. 
  • Sound desensitization. Slowly expose your pet to firework sounds and use positive reinforcement to try and reduce their anxiety. 

Nicole has found that positive reinforcement, consistency, and patience are the keys to training any pet. She suggests playing firework videos on a low volume while your dog is playing with a toy - ideally weeks before the holiday - and slowly increase volume. 

Photo: Pexels/Sam Lion

She states, "Sound desensitization can help dogs prepare for the 4th of July, but it requires time and consistency. Gradual and slow exposure to the sounds of fireworks – or other loud, similar sounding noises – can help pets feel less anxious."

You can learn more from Nicole and ask her questions during her FREE virtual class in partnership with Varsity Tutors on summer safety for pets by signing up here. Be sure to follow her on Instagram for more pet tips and tricks. 

Fireworks and Wildlife

All sorts of animals are impacted and stressed by fireworks. Dogs, cats, horses, and many more run in fear from the loud noises and bright flashes of light.

According to The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), "Fireworks have even frightened birds into flying so far out to sea that they did not have the energy to make the return flight. Wild birds frightened by the noise of fireworks will also fly higher and for longer, which exposes them to the harmful cocktail of ingredients in fireworks. Casings and heavy metals that are littered by fireworks are often mistakenly consumed by wildlife or even fed to their young." 

Photo: Pixabay/Uwe Klein

Fireworks are also a fire hazard in dry areas and the pollutants can contaminate vital drinking water for wildlife. HSUS encourages people to talk to their local officials to encourage them to celebrate with silent fireworks or other safer and quieter options like a laser show.

Best Friends Animal Society has the best advice - purchase pet food for struggling shelters instead of fireworks and, "make a difference instead of noise." 


Feel free to share how you keep your pet calm during fireworks in the comments. 

Andrea Powell

Andrea Powell is an animal enthusiast who resides in West Michigan. When not writing, she is exploring the great outdoors with her dogs and horses.

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