21 Oct Dogs and Fireworks│8 Top Tips on How to Keep your Dog Calm
Written by Emily Holloway and reviewed by our qualified expert, Paul Holmes, Scientific & Regulatory Affairs Manager at Naturecan, BSc Medicinal and Biological Chemistry, Member of UKAS/FSA CBD Food Product Approval Expert Group
Dogs and fireworks have never mixed well – whether it is the 4th of July, Bonfire night, New year’s Eve or another celebration, many pet owners deal with distressed animals during displays, with many owners wondering how to keep a dog calm during fireworks. Firework season sees an increase in the number of missing dogs reported and dogs running away.
You are not alone if you are wondering how to deal with dogs and fireworks. Many people seek the advice of vets and pet experts to learn how to calm a dog.
Why Are Dogs Scared Of Fireworks?
There are many reasons why dogs and fireworks don’t mix and may cause dog anxiety. You might see critical signs of stress in a dog during firework season which include trembling, shaking, shivering, howling, barking and in extreme cases becoming frantic.
For more detail on dog anxiety and the critical signs of stress, check out our dog behavioural page
1. The Noise
Just like thunder and lightning, fireworks are incredibly loud and can put many dogs on edge due to their exceptional hearing. If we, as humans, find fireworks loud, just imagine how loud it must be for their sensitive ears!
2. They are Unpredictable
Half of the excitement of watching fireworks is not knowing what you are going to see next. However, this unpredictability is incredibly unsettling for your dog. For them, they have no idea what’s happening or why; there are random noises and bright lights in seemingly random intervals.
3. They are Threatening
The mixture of the noise and unpredictability of fireworks may lead dogs to perceive them as a threat as they do not fit into their normal routine. This threat could trigger their flight or fight response which can make them want to run away and hide.
Top 8 Tips to Calm your dogs - Dogs and Fireworks
Here are our top 8 tips to keep your dog, or other pets, calm this firework season.
1. Keep Your Dog Away From Fireworks
Firstly, walk your dog during the daytime to avoid any encounters with fireworks. Most dogs will run away when spooked so by walking during the day you can avoid this risk. Try to keep your dogs and cats inside throughout the evening with the curtains closed. Finally, whilst going to firework displays is fun for the rest of the families, we would recommend staying at home with your pup to comfort them and ensure they are relaxed.
2. Create A Safe Place For Your Dog (& Other Pets)
Dogs and cats are den animals by nature, so creating a space where they feel comfortable and safe to escape may help alleviate any stress they feel. Try setting up a quiet area away from windows – such as their crate, under the stairs or under the bed – so that they can’t hear or see the fireworks.
Make sure to provide blankets that smell of you and familiar toys to make it feel cosy. If you start to see the critical signs of stress in a dog, try to help them settle in this safe space place. It is important not to force them and let them settle wherever they feel the most comfortable. If your dog is scared of fireworks, you could also let them sleep under a blanket or duvet, as this will make them feel safe and will dampen the sound of the fireworks.
3. Play White Noise Or Music
Try leaving the TV, radio or music on to help mask the sounds of the fireworks. Certain genres of music have been shown to calm dogs down more than others. For example, if your dog is scared of fireworks it is suggested that classical music may help calm your dog during this stressful environment. A great Youtube channel for finding long videos with relaxing music is RelaxMyDog
4. Comfort Your Dog
If you can, try to stay home with your dog or leave them in the hands of someone you trust. Knowing how to calm your dog during fireworks can be difficult as you don’t want to add to the dog’s anxious feelings.
When dealing with dogs and fireworks, it is important to stay calm. Try and avoid acting stressed, even if you’re seeing critical signs of stress in a dog. Your furry companion will use you as a guide on how to handle this situation. Try being calm, using a soothing tone and completely ignoring the fireworks.
5. Incorporate Fireworks Into Your Training Routine
If you know from past experience your dogs and fireworks don’t mix, it would be good to start preparing before firework season. You could try playing the sounds of fireworks on the TV so your dog gets used to hearing them.
By playing the sounds whilst engaging your dog in enrichment activities or their favourite long-lasting treats to help counter-condition your dog. Counterconditioning is a process where you change the pet’s emotional response, feelings or attitude toward a stimulus. As your dog gets more comfortable and confident, you can slowly start to increase the volume of the noise to increase the threshold and help them become desensitized to the fireworks. View our video on fireworks noise to help with this training.
6. Talk To Your Vet
If you are experiencing extreme dog anxiety and struggling to promote calmness after exploring multiple avenues, we would recommend consulting with your vet about how you can overcome the critical signs of stress in your dog.
7. Use Enrichment And Treats As A Distraction
When your dog is scared of fireworks, you might see an increase in self-grooming behaviours like licking, however, do not feel alarmed. Research suggests the process of licking can help ease dog anxiety. This is because licking can be a self-soothing mechanism when a dog feels nervous, lonely, or bored. You can use this self-soothing mechanism to your advantage when trying to alleviate the critical signs of stress in your dog by giving a frozen enrichment toy filled with something tasty to your dog to encourage licking.
You can also add natural calming supplements to these enrichment toys to aid in promoting calm. Finally, having high-valued treats on hand to distract your dog is a great tactic to try and get them to focus on something else. Long-lasting treats are also great.
8. Use Natural Products To Promote Calmness
Just like humans, pets sometimes need a helping hand to feel calm, particularly when dealing with situational anxiety like fireworks.
Whilst there are dog anxiety medications you can get prescribed by your vet, you might want to consider a safer and more holistic approach.
Look for natural products containing ingredients such as valerian root, CBD, passionflower and chamomile.
Valerian Root – has been used for thousands of years and has been shown to promote calmness, encourage natural sleep and help combat nervous restlessness.
Passionflower – Research into passionflower suggests it aids the easing of stress and promotes feelings of rest and relaxation.
Chamomile – Is used to help promote sleep and feelings of calm.
CBD – CBD can help regulate the dog’s endocannabinoid system (ECS) which is a critical signalling system within the body. The ECS helps regulate and control many body functions working to bring the body back to homeostasis or balance and normality.
Check out our CBD for dogs blog to learn more about how to utilise the power of CBD for your pet.
Dog Anxiety During Fireworks
CBD supports the body to bring back this balance. When thinking about dogs and fireworks, the increase of adrenaline or the fight or flight response, produces stress, anxiety and nervousness which in turn disrupts homeostasis.
The majority of vets agree that CBD can bring the body back to homeostasis and therefore promote calmness and work well for dog stress relief (1). Learn more about the power of CBD and whether it is safe for your dog here – Is CBD safe for pets?
Our delicious CBD dog treats for calm contain all the above and work perfectly with our CBD oil for dogs. This double-pronged approach of oils and treats is a really effective method as the treats can be used multiple times throughout the day for added support on top of a daily dose of CBD oil.
If your dog is scared of fireworks and you are seeing critical signs of stress in your dog, speak to your vet who may be able to prescribe CBD as a natural remedy. This is a legal requirement in the UK and pet CBD must be purchased through veterinary prescription.
What About Cats And Horses That Are Scared Of Fireworks?
It’s not only dogs that are scared of fireworks, many cat and horse owners witness pet anxiety throughout firework season. Many cats may show the same critical signs of stress that dogs do and you can use many of the above tips to help!
Cats and Fireworks
- If you have an outdoor cat, keep them indoors after sunset to avoid them running off when fireworks start
- Make sure they have somewhere to hide to feel comfortable and safe
- You can help by pulling the curtains and playing calming music to dampen the noise of the fireworks
- Introducing natural supplements for cats can also help ease their nerves
Horses and Fireworks
How you support your horse through this stressful time differs from dogs and cats as horses don’t live in the family home. However, there are still steps you can take to make sure they are as calm as possible:
- Firstly, check for any firework displays planned locally and ensure they are not being set off too close to your yard
- Try to keep to their familiar environment and routine
- Stabling your horse rather than leaving them in their field is advisable as it reduces the risk of injuries. Horses when startled can be unpredictable and could harm themself if they jumped into the field’s fencing
- Ensure hay nets are secure in their stable to avoid them getting caught up, in case they make any sudden movements to the noise
- Introducing a natural supplement is a great way to keep them calm during this traumatic time
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