Dogs & Fireworks: The Complete Calming Guide

Dog Health Fireworks


  • Why Are Dogs Scared of Fireworks?
  • Are All Pets Affected By Fireworks?
  • Symptoms of Noise Anxiety in Dogs
  • How to Calm Your Dogs During Fireworks
  • Creating a Safe Space
  • Noise Exposure
  • Medicating Noise Anxiety

Why Are Dogs Scared of Fireworks?

A poorly understood condition, noise phobia, can actually develop in dogs of all ages, although dogs over a year of age are more likely to suffer from it.
Kristen Collins, a Certified Applied Animal Behaviourist (CAAB), was quoted by as saying:
“Some dogs simply seem more sensitive and susceptible to developing a fear of noises, and this susceptibility may indicate a genetic predisposition toward the problem.”
Other dogs learn to fear certain sounds. “A dog who isn't initially afraid of a sound can become fearful when an unpleasant event is linked with that noise,” she added.
The symptoms of noise phobia are usually extreme. A dog who's experiencing a phobia episode is panicking, so they'll pace, pant, tremble and hypersalivate.
“Frightened dogs may cower, ears flat against their skulls, eyes wide, muscles tensed and tails tucked,” explains Collins. “Some dogs become restless and move around anxiously with no apparent purpose, while others become immobile, shutting down and unable to move.”
Some fearful dogs cling to their owners, seeking comfort, while others prefer to hunker down on their own, away from people and preferably somewhere dark and quiet.
It's also not uncommon for dogs with noise phobia to engage in destructive behaviour like chewing, digging, scratching and tearing up objects in the home.
“At worst, noise phobias can trigger frantic attempts to escape,” says Collins. “Panicked dogs may scratch and dig frantically at doors or even jump out of windows.”

Are All Pets Affected By Fireworks?

The RSPCA is keen to see fireworks regulations changed - a sentiment shared by many. Research by the organisation found that nearly two-thirds of dogs (62%) show signs of distress during fireworks.
54% of cats and 55% of horses are similarly unsettled by these loud bangs, and when you consider that 52% of UK adults in England and Wales said they intended to host a fireworks display in 2021, you get an idea of the scale of the problem.

Symptoms of Noise Anxiety in Dogs

Some symptoms are easier to spot than others, but here’s a list of things to look out for when fireworks season rolls around:
  1. Shaking or trembling - this should be easy to spot, but it’s always worth being extra vigilant on Bonfire Night.

  2. Pacing the room - is your dog more agitated than usual? Try to help them settle down (more on this later).

  3. Panting or drooling - you expect this when they’ve been exercising, but if they’ve not been out for a while, this is a tell-tale sign that they’re anxious.

  4. Tucking their tail between their legs - another easy one to spot.

  5. Pushing their ears back - a more subtle sign that they’re feeling fearful.

  6. Wide eyes - as above, a little clue that you can easily miss.

  7. Clinging to their human - are they constantly by your side all of a sudden? Chances are your pooch is frightened.

  8. Hiding or cowering, or refusing to move - the opposite of point two; one minute your dog might be strolling around anxiously, the next they’re hiding away as they’ve become more upset.

  9. Excessive or unusual barking - spotting this all depends on how vocal your dog usually is.

  10. Potty accidents - if your dog is otherwise well trained, it’s clear that the noise outside has left them out of sorts.

  11. Chewing, digging, or scratching - we’ve got plenty of dog chews that can give your pooch something to gnaw at as a way to release their tension. Try to present it to them before they sink their teeth into your sofa!

  12. Bolting or trying to escape from the home - ALWAYS be extra careful during fireworks season; ensure doors are locked and your home is secure.

How to Calm Your Dogs During Fireworks

There’s an array of techniques you can use to settle your dos during fireworks displays, as well as a bunch of products that can help.
A few tips:
  1. Natural calming agents can be effective.

  2. Some dog collars are designed to alleviate stress and reduce barking.

  3. Never reprimand or punish a dog for being scared, and don’t ignore them if they approach you for comfort (that does mean you might have to let your Rottweiler sit on your lap, I’m afraid!)

  4. Cotton balls can be popped in your pooch’s ears if they really suffer during firework displays, which will lessen the noise for them. Just remember to take them out once the fireworks have died down!

  5. Earmuffs are not just for humans…

  6. Distracting your dog - playing fetch or tug - will keep them occupied and focused on something other than the scary banging going on overhead.

  7. A snug shirt can comfort anxious dogs, by evoking the sensation of a hug. A ‘pressure wrap’ is anything that wraps around the dog’s torso and chest to provide a constant, gentle pressure.

  8. Exercise your dog before any planned firework displays happen - leaving the energy that might have been directed at anxious behaviours fully depleted.

  9. There are radio stations that provide specially tailored programmes during peak times when fireworks are likely to be going off. Classic FM’s Pet Classics is a great option for dog owners.

Creating a Safe Space

Just like humans, dogs respond differently depending on their environment. There’s lots you can do to make a calming haven in your home; try using sights and sounds—white noise, relaxing music and light-blocking shades.
Make a safe space by placing their bed or blanket-covered crate in a favourite spot (leave the crate door open, so should your pooch panic, they don’t hurt themselves trying to escape). It’s best to keep this space small and as soundproof as possible.
Adding a long-lasting chew will undoubtedly draw their attention away from the fireworks. Yakers Himalayan Yak Milk Dog Chew is a great option.

Noise Exposure

Studies have shown that noise anxiety appears in some breeds, such as Collies, Golden Retrievers, and German Shepherds, more than others. The loud noises dogs are most frightened of are fireworks, thunderstorms and gunshots.
Every puppy needs to be exposed to noises at such a volume that they don’t show signs of anxiety or fear. For example, washing machines, vacuum cleaners, doorbells, telephones, radio or TV, and food mixers are all normal household noises which dogs should learn not to fear over time.

Medicating Noise Anxiety

Let’s take a look at some calming pet products that will come in handy during the fireworks season.
  1. VetIQ Serene-UM Calming Tablets for Cats and Dogs

Ideal for hyperactive or nervous dogs. Serene-UM is particularly useful for sufferers of noise phobia, fireworks and hyperactivity where pets may display aggressive or nervous behaviour. It has been recommended by veterinarians to ensure your pet remains calm during periods of stress and anxiety, without having a sedative effect.

Natural Remedies for Scared Dogs

Designed to keep your pet relaxed during fireworks and made from natural ingredients for a quick effect and safe use. Includes wipes, diffuser, and spray for better results. Definitely, one to try!
  1. Pet Remedy Calming Wipes

Also made from natural essential ingredients, this provides an instant solution to alleviate stress and anxiety in pets. It’s suitable for all pets.
  1. Thundershirt Anxiety Dog Coat

This is a vet-recommended stress relief coat for dogs. It reduces anxiety in dogs without having to use drug tablets, sprays, or spot-on treatments.
It works by applying constant pressure gently, to calm all types of fears and anxieties in your pup. It’s like one long cuddle! The coat helps prevent behavioural troubles with dogs, such as excessive barking, jumping, and lead pulling and is ideal for pooches with fear of thunder, fireworks, separation, crates, travelling, and vets.
  1. Adaptil Collar

Is your puppy scared of fireworks? This easily adjustable collar helps your baby in getting familiar with the new environment, offering constant support for up to four weeks.
There’s a lot to think about when you get a new puppy (not just during fireworks displays). Our handy new puppy checklist will set you on the right path.
This dog collar helps to reduce anxiety, stress, and urination among dogs of all ages, breeds, and sizes. It’s highly adjustable as per the changing size of your dog in different stages of growth, which makes it excellent value for money. Valerian and Lavender quickly show its effect without causing any reaction on the dog’s skin.

The Autumn and Winter months can be tricky to navigate for dog owners. Hopefully, we’ve provided all of the information you need to get your pooch through the fireworks season.