SPCA New Zealand
Advice & welfare

Keep animals safe around fireworks

While most people enjoy the fireworks festivities, unfortunately many pets become highly distressed by fireworks.

SPCA receives dozens of calls relating to fireworks, especially around Guy Fawkes, including: animal injuries, frightened animals, missing pets and, occasionally, abuse of animals.

The loud noises and bright flashes of light can be very frightening to animals, and many animals become highly distressed. This can lead to animals running away, going missing, injuring themselves, and becoming susceptible to traffic accidents.

Remember the 5th of November- keep your pets inside and safe on Guy Fawkes night!

Planning ahead is key. Be aware of Guy Fawkes Night and create a strategy for your animals. Making sure your pet has company of other animals where possible, is kept inside, and has proper identification are just a few easy ways that you can ensure the safety of your animals.

SPCA’s top tips for pet and livestock owners

  • Never let fireworks off close to animals.
  • Stay home with your pet – they will be less stressed with someone they trust close by.
  • Keep them indoors – they won’t see the flashes and the bangs will be muffled. Close doors and windows and draw the curtains. Turn up the volume on your radio or TV to help drown out loud bangs with familiar sounds.
  • Make sure that your cat or dog has somewhere comforting to hide such as an igloo, box, crate or somewhere they feel safe to retreat to.
  • Try a compression wrap for dogs, like a thunder shirt.
  • Exercise your dog early in the day to avoid being out during dusk when fireworks could be set off.
  • Both cats and dogs should be microchipped and have a collar and identification tag with your contact details on it. If your pet panics and runs away, it will help to reunite you with your pet.
  • Try to behave in a calm and reassuring manner. Take special care of elderly or nervous pets, but try not to cuddle your pet too much as this may encourage anxious behaviour.
  • Never punish your pets when they are scared. This will only make their fear and stress levels worse.
  • Move horses and farm animals away from fireworks. Make sure all fences are secure. Stable horses where possible. Do this well in advance so that the animals have a chance to get used to their new surroundings.
  • Don’t forget small pets like rabbits, guinea pigs or chickens. Have them tucked away or even inside for the night.

Keep in mind that for some animals, fireworks can be a real phobia and may need to be treated with medication. Speak with your vet for options before the fireworks start.

While the SPCA does not support the private sale and use of fireworks and has long called for a ban on the sale of fireworks to the public, those planning to set off fireworks in their homes should consider speaking to their neighbours, or leaving a note in their letterbox, so that those with pets and livestock can prepare accordingly.

People without pets must be aware of the stress their use of fireworks can cause others in their neighbourhood and act considerately. We also encourage people to attend controlled public fireworks displays rather than using fireworks at home. 

Tips for people organising fireworks displays

  • People organising firework displays should let their neighbours know in advance. Put flyers in neighbour’s letter boxes. This will alert them to the need to make arrangements for their pets.
  • Organisers of large fireworks displays should place notices in local shop windows and inform local media.
  • Firework party organisers should concentrate on fireworks which explode close to the ground and don’t make particularly loud bangs or screeches. These are likely to cause less distress to animals.

Unfortunately, the public sale of fireworks ensures that there is no ‘set’ day for fireworks to be used. Therefore, pet and livestock owners must remain vigilant at all times

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