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 and many animals become highly distressed. This can lead to animals running away, going missing, injuring themselves, and becoming involved in 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 farmed animal 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 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 bed, covered crate or making a bed where ever 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.
  • If your cat has outside access, make sure they are safe in your home before dusk.
  • Both cats and dogs should be microchipped with contact details up to date and have a collar and identification tag with your contact details on it. If your pet panics and runs away, this will help to reunite you with your pet.
  • Try to behave in a calm and reassuring manner. If your pet seeks you out it is fine to calmly comfort them but if they prefer to retreat and be left alone it is important to respect this.
  • To minimise stress, keep horses and farmed animals in their familiar paddocks and with their usual companions unless a firework display is planned close by. Make sure all fences are secure and check paddocks and stables thoroughly for anything that could cause injury, such as protruding nails. If you need to stable or move animals, 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 safely 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. If your pet has a strong reaction consider working with a behaviourist - this can be a long process but can gradually reduce their noise phobias over time. Prevention is the best cure, so make sure to give puppies, kittens and other young animals a positive introduction to firework noises (online recordings played at a low volume and paired with treats) so they will be prepared to cope.

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 farmed animals 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 and post on local social media groups. 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 farmed animal owners must remain vigilant at all times.

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