white dog hiding under cover from fireworks

Keeping Your Pet Safe During Fireworks


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With lots of celebrations organised for Christmas, and New Year not long off, fireworks season for pets and humans is upon us. Fireworks in New Zealand tend to happen over big holidays like these as well as during events like Guy Fawkes, Chinese New Year and Diwali. And while we love the look of the displays, many pets are terrified by the sounds.

Every year, rescue organisations field loads of calls about pets who hurt themselves, panic, or go missing over these types of celebration periods. Many missing pets become so due to sheer terror from the fireworks, causing them to bolt off, try to escape, or hide in unlikely places.

If you have a dog or cat who’s scared of fireworks, we have some tips on how to lessen their anxiety and, most importantly, keep them safe.

Why do fireworks upset some pets?

Fireworks can cause stress, anxiety, and even aggression in some pets. Why is this?


The first culprit is, of course, the noise. Many animals have incredibly sensitive hearing – much better than humans. Now consider that the booms, whistles, and bangs from fireworks can reach up to 150 decibels, the equivalent decibels of a jet engine. And you’re probably aware some pets are naturally more noise averse than others – pets who are scared of thunder or loud noises in general are likely to be nervous of fireworks.


If you’ve ever been up close at a fireworks display, you’ll know they smell like gunpowder and explosives. These smells set off alarm bells for your pets because they’re unnatural.


Also, fireworks are random in nature – to pets anyway. To them, they flash without warning as well as at different intervals and from different directions. You might know there’s a NYE celebration upcoming, but your dog or cat doesn’t.

All of these sensations can make a pet feel trapped during a fireworks display. Just imagine the panic of being trapped somewhere while something was scaring you, especially if you didn’t know what it was or why it was happening.  

Not all animals are scared of fireworks. If your pet is completely unbothered, then you don’t need to take any specific steps. Their level of fear depends on their personality, their past experiences, and their genetics. For instance, some highly-strung or anxious breeds are more likely to be noise averse than others.

If your pet is scared of fireworks, keep reading for advice on how to cope.

black cat under bed hiding from fireworks

How can you reduce anxiety over fireworks?

The first step is to try and keep your pet calm if you know fireworks are going to happen. Take some preventative action by exercising them earlier in the day so they’re tired when the evening fireworks displays begin.

You can play a game (read about puppy games), go for a long walk (training your cat to walk on a leash is possible too), take them to the lake or beach (read how to keep a dog safe at the beach), or do something stimulating and tiring to get rid of any pent-up energy.

Secondly, you want to create a calm environment at home. To do this, you should close and cover windows, curtains and blinds. This helps to muffle fireworks noise.

You can also turn on the radio or TV or play some music. Perhaps switch on some well-loved cat TV or dog movies? This can help to mask the sound of fireworks and provides familiar noise to distract your pet.

Give your pet a safe space to hide. Many dogs and cats will want to hide inside places like cupboards, so you can make sure those are accessible to them. Set up a room, corner, or crate with food and water bowls, their favourite toys, and familiar bedding to create an area they’ll feel happy in.

But don’t insist they stay in this space. Though you might want them to lie there and relax, confining them can stress them out. Allow them to come and go as they please.  

What about medication?

If your pet gets really anxious, medication to calm their nerves during fireworks is an option. Speak to your vet to see what they suggest. For instance, they might be able to prescribe sedatives or suggest an over the counter medication which can help your pet.

But don’t try this without consulting a vet – they need to examine your pet first to ensure they’re healthy, and will then prescribe the correct dose. Giving a pet too much sedative or something that may exacerbate a health issue can be very dangerous.

Pet owners can also try alternatives like pheromone sprays, calming collars, or rescue remedy.

Is dog insurance worth it - this puppy thinks woofing yes!

Keeping your pets safe during fireworks

Unfortunately, many pets simply won’t be cool and calm during fireworks. Though you can still follow the steps outlined above, you’ll also need to consider their safety. Pets who are panicked can hurt themselves (or others), and are more likely to run away or get lost.

To help minimise danger, any outdoor pets should be brought inside. Cat flaps, doors, and windows should be closed and secured so your pet can’t escape. It’s a sad truth that when you hit an animal while driving in NZ, it’s sometimes your own pet. Especially if you’re close to home and they’re scared. Properly securing them is an important part of pet road safety, so do everything within your power to keep them safe.

If you know your pet is likely to get scared, try to make sure somebody is at home with them. Your pet will be reassured by your presence, and you’ll be able to make sure they stay safe. Remember to stay calm and relaxed when with them. Your pet might be panicked, which can be distressing to watch, but you’ll help them more by staying relaxed and bringing calm energy than by getting upset.

One more important point: ensure you have a dog microchip or cat microchip. If your pet does somehow bolt, get lost, or hide somewhere you can’t find them then a microchip gives you a better chance of them being safely returned. If your pet’s already microchipped, great. Simply make sure the details are up to date.

Also read about home renovations and pet safety.

Pet insurance for better protection

If your dog or cat does get lost or hurt during fireworks panic, pet insurance can take away some of the stress. Once they’re safe in your arms, you might need to take them for a vet check up, surgery, or medication for the future. With a PD Pet Insurance policy to hand, you won’t have to cover the whole bill yourself.

And pet medical costs can be wayyyy scarier than fireworks! Click below to get a quote today.

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