My pet is scared of fireworks

Do pets fear fireworks?

Yes, cats and dogs can be afraid of fireworks.

Like people, our pets have intense emotions and can suffer panic attack scenarios. These emotions can be triggered by external or internal stimuli, which can stimulate a profound reaction. This is like panic attacks in people, but is termed canine panic disorder. Stimuli triggers can be visual, smells, sounds, or tastes. Fireworks trigger all of those senses.

In some cases the pet may only respond to memory or perception of how the certain scenario made them feel. We cannot interpret true perception in dogs, but their memories are good, so even if the stimuli is not present we must consider that the memory of the stimuli or sensation of the stimuli has been caused.

What will my dog do if they are scared of fireworks?

Common signs shown are the pet trying to escape the situation that is distressing them. They experience an intense reaction which is out of context to the stimuli.

Specific signs are triggered by the ‘fight or flight’ autonomic nervous system, and include:

  • Urination

  • Defecation

  • Vocalisation

  • Salivation

  • Trembling/shivering

  • Excessive yawning

  • Random destruction behaviour

  • Escape behaviours

  • Aggression

  • Hiding

  • Loss appetite

  • Being unwilling to more/freezing

  • Increased activity or restlessness

How can I help calm my dog during a firework display?