How to prepare your pet for fireworks

Use our top tips to take the stress and worry out of fireworks night for your pet.

While the dazzling fireworks displays we’ve all come to know and love keep us enthralled, for many pets it’s exactly the opposite.

The fear and anxiety that comes with fireworks is very real for cats, dogs and other animals. We’ve all heard the distressing stories of beloved pets running away or hurting themselves on fireworks night.

By following these steps, you can minimize any stress or harm for your pet and the entire family:

Start early

Christmas and New Year’s is easily the most popular season for fireworks. In the lead up to these weeks a few small actions can make a big difference:

- Do a quick safety audit of your home and yard. Get down on your pet’s level and ensure all fences, gates and boundaries are secure. When a pet is anxious they will jump, dig or force their way through weak or unsecure enclosures. Ensure any repairs are carried out well in advance of firework season.

- Make sure your pet’s microchip is up to date and your current details registered with your local vet and council.

- Make sure your pet’s collar displays your current phone number.

- Prepare an area within your home that can act as a ‘Safe Space’ for your pet. Opt for a quiet room that is secure and contained. Set up a cosy bed, and let your pet have access to this space in the weeks prior, so they come to know it as a place of safety.

Training aids

For particularly sensitive or anxious pets there are a number of training aids that can help with stress and anxiety associated with fireworks.

These include:

- The Thundershirt. While it looks like a some kind of snazzy dog jacket, the Thundershirt is actually a wrap around coat that applies constant, gentle pressure to your dog’s torso which has a calming effect. Just like swaddling a baby, the soft pressure provides a soothing effect despite a dog’s external surroundings. A huge number of pet owners across the globe swear by the Thundershirt’s effectiveness during fireworks.

- Desensitisation audio tracks. Some pets benefit from hearing the sounds of fireworks on a repetitive audio loop, which helps them become accustomed to the noises. In the weeks and days leading up to fireworks season, start playing the noises on a low volume and keep the experience positive for your pet by giving them treats when they exhibit calm behaviour. 

- Medication for severely anxious dogs can also be considered but is best discussed with your vet.

Cat under bed
On the Day
 
During the day, ensure your pet has adequate exercise and time with you to feel relaxed and calm headed into the evening.
 
If you are going out:
 
 - Ensure your pet’s ‘Safe Space’ is set up well in advance. Make sure water bowls are full and cannot be tipped over by your dog. Leave them with treats balls that will occupy their attention in a fun way while you’re gone.
 
 - Confirm there’s somewhere for your pet to toilet while you’re gone and encourage them to go before you leave.
 
- Where possible, keep windows and curtains closed to make the room as cosy and calm as possible.
 
- Ensure any potential hazards (breakables, power cords etc) are out of reach.
 
- Consider leaving the radio or TV on as company and a white-noise filter for your pet. 
 
- Advise friends or family that should you be delayed or unable to get home, your pet is home alone and requires care.
 
If staying at home:
 
- Keep things ‘business as usual’ as much as possible.
 
- Allow your pet access to their ‘Safe Space’ throughout the evening. Give them a treat ball or interactive toy to keep them occupied when the fireworks are due to start.
 
- Refrain from scolding your pet for erratic behaviour and instead reward them when they are being calm.
 
By combining the tips above, each new experience with fireworks should become easier with pets – allowing you to enjoy the fireworks knowing your pet is safe and sound.

Bupa pet insurance for dogs

Bupa Pet Insurance is general insurance issued by the insurer The Hollard Insurance Company Pty Ltd (ACN 090 584 473; AFSL 241436) (Hollard), is promoted by Bupa HI Pty Ltd (ACN 000 057 590; AR 354269) (Bupa) and administered by PetSure (Australia) Pty Ltd (ACN 075 949 923; AFSL 420183 (PetSure). Bupa acts as an authorised representative of PetSure. Any advice provided is general only, has been prepared without taking into account your objectives, financial situation or needs and may not be right for you. Consequently, before acting on this information, you should consider the appropriateness of this information having regard to your objectives, financial situation and needs. You should obtain and consider the Product Disclosure Statement (PDS)  in deciding whether to acquire or continue to hold, Bupa Pet Insurance.
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