Monday, June 24, 2024



Animals 101 – Do you have a plan in place to keep your pets safe and calm during the firework festivities?

Pet owners dread holidays and occasions that feature fireworks. These events usually send domestic animals into a frenzy of worry or a state of frozen terror. Noise-phobia (fireworks & storms etc.) is one of the top reasons why many animals try to get out or get lost. Dogs and other animals can seriously injure themselves attempting to escape during storms, fireworks displays, and other noisy events. If you don’t have a plan yet, start preparing now because you are responsible for them.



The good news is that there are things you can do during the off-season to prepare your pets for fireworks. Rather than saying or doing something that might reinforce anxious behaviour, try simply observing your dog during a fearful episode and see what you can do to help calm them.

Image: The Paw Company

TIPS for FIREWORK PREPARATION (by Best Behaviour & Dr Karen Becker)

  • Use a teaspoon to knock on various surfaces around the house and follow up with a treat. This teaches your dog that startling sounds predict yummy food.
  • Teach your dog to use a Kong or chew toy so that they can engage in this calming activity during the next fireworks occasion.
  • Play with your dog during thunderstorms. Creating an association between play and the cracks of lightning will aid in generalizing a positive emotional state during fireworks.
  • Make sure they are micro-chipped AND that you registered the microchip on more than one database. Make sure your micro-chip information is up-to-date as well as your animal having an up-to-date tag on their collar. This is a big challenge when we find pets with out-of-date details.
  • If you know your pet is prone to extreme stress during this time, then see your veterinarian before the time for some medication. Do not use human medication! Consult your integrative veterinarian about herbal, homeopathic, TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) and flower remedies that could be helpful in alleviating your dog’s stress.
  • Learn more about zoopharmacognosy, which allows your pet to self-select remedies that best soothe them during periods of anxiety.
  • Invest in an Adaptil collar or diffuser for your dog. Adaptil is a pheromone designed to have a calming effect on dogs.
  • Any medication or remedies have to be used together with behavioural therapy!
  • Make sure your yard is secure and safe as many pets who try to escape get stuck on palisades or hurt on other fencing.

Watch this video for more details.

Fireworks Preparation for Dogs


  • On the day of the expected fireworks, look for your animals, especially cats, before the fireworks start.
  • Close windows and curtains so your pet is not startled by sudden flashes.
  • Try blocking the intensity of the sounds your pet hears. Ear protection for dogs is available.
  • If your pet is afraid of storms or other loud outside noises, leaving them outdoors while they are anxious or panicked is the worst thing you can do. Keep your pets indoors with windows, doors and pet doors shut & secured so they can’t escape when spooked.
  • If your cat is not used to being indoors, provide extra litter boxes inside.
  • Provide your pet with food before the fireworks as it can help calm them or they might be too stressed to eat later.
  • A quiet environment can often provide relief. The goal is to give your dog a secure spot that helps them calm themselves. Try coaxing them to a quiet area of your home where they’d be completely unable to hear the noise stressors. Either leave them there to self-soothe (as long as they are not frantic) or stay quietly with them. Use blankets and bedding to mask the sounds and add their favourite toy. If they continue to panic in the dark, quiet space, it isn’t what they need to help them relax.
  • Cats also feel secure playing inside boxes.
  • If your dog is crate trained, they may go there voluntarily to self-soothe, or you can lead the way. A blanket draped over the crate may help them relax. However, if your dog doesn’t normally use a crate, or worse, has a fear of crates due to a past bad experience, this isn’t the time to use one. Under no circumstances should a fearful pup be forced into a crate either when they’re already anxious, or in anticipation of a panic response to weather or other noises. Your dog will feel trapped, which will make both their phobia and reaction to it worse.
  • Place a few drops of the essential oil of lavender on your dog’s collar or bedding before a stressor occurs, if possible.
  • Play calm, soothing music like MusicMyPet before a potential stressor occurs. Put the TV or music on, to mute the firework bangs.
  • If your pet is hiding, don’t try to lure them out. This can make them become more anxious & stressed.
  • Distract your pet with treats or play time if they are pacing or displaying nervous behaviour.  Give them something to chew on or sniff.
  • Try putting gentle, continuous pressure on your pet to calm her. If they’ll allow it, try leaning gently on or against them without petting or stroking. If this is helping, you’ll feel their muscles begin to relax. If instead they seems to grow more anxious, this isn’t a technique that will be beneficial for them.

If your dog seems to respond well to pressure applied to their body, there are wraps available like the Thunder-shirt that many pet owners and veterinarians find extremely helpful.

T-touch is a specific massage technique that may also help anxious pets.

  • Stay home with your pets in these frightening times as you would with frightened children.
  • You also need to stay calm as they can feel your anxiety.
Image: AACL

Don’t support fireworks and report illegal use of it in residential areas, to your nearest SAPS (even if you think nothing will happen a paper trail can help in future).

Help us educate about fireworks! Read the full article on fireworks


Thank you for tuning in! Next week we will look at new years resolutions for your pet.


#animalsafety #fireworks #fireworkspreparation #noisephobia #banthebang