Help me, I'm scared!

By admin
04 November 2016

Guy Fawkes, Diwali and New Year are happy occasions for many, but fireworks are the bane of pet owners everywhere.

Our pets feel, hear, smell and sense things more intensely than humans do – something to keep in mind with Guy Fawkes rolling around again on 5 November.

The explosive sounds, flashes of light and acrid smell of firecrackers can be terrifying for pets. The domestic use of fireworks is banned by most local authorities but some still allow organised displays if permission is sought. But many people continue to flout the law, so you can be sure many suburbs will be rocked by bangs and explosions on Guy Fawkes night, Diwali and New Year.

Read more: Firecrackers are ‘like bombs when they go off’, experts warn
More family pets run away from home during celebrations involving fireworks than on any other days of the year. Some return unscathed but sadly many don’t. It’s not unusual for pets to leap through windows, get stuck in security fences or even become impaled on sharp fence poles or hit by cars in their mad dash to escape the noise. Use tips opposite to help keep your pet safe and calm.


A few points from the Explosives Act No 26 of 1956:

  • Street traders may not sell fireworks.
  • It’s unlawful to discharge fireworks in any building, on any public thoroughfare or in any public place or resort without prior written permission from the local authority.
  • No person shall allow any children under the age of 16 to handle or use fireworks except under adult supervision. Report offenders at your nearest police station.

Read more: One month later: Polokwane schoolboy battling after horrific firecracker accident
Top tip! When your dogs are between three weeks and three months old expose them to noise from fireworks, thunder, car hooters and aircraft in a positive way by offering treats and cuddles. They’ll be less likely to be fazed by noise when they’re older.


1 Sometimes a frightened animal escapes despite our best efforts. Identification tags, snug-fitting collars and microchips help to ensure they’re returned safely.

2 Stay at home with your animals if possible, especially if you know there’ll be a fireworks display nearby.

3 If you aren’t going to be at home, keep them inside. Put your dog in a comfortable, enclosed room where he can hide if he needs to. Ensure he can’t break through a window. Put your kitty in its travel crate and cover it with a light blanket. Removing visual stimulation is calming.

4 Place familiar and comforting things around pets such as toys and blankets.

5 Mask the noise by drawing curtains, closing windows and playing calming music.

6 Give your dog a delicious chew toy and offer kitty a catnip-scented toy to help create a happy diversion.

7 If you know your pets react badly to fireworks, seek professional advice from your vet ahead of time.

8 Give them a good meal before nightfall so they’re more likely to be sleepy and content.

9 Calming wraps and ThunderShirts (below) may help. These work like swaddling does for infants and will help make your pet feel secure during stressful situations.


10 Stay calm! Making a big fuss around your pet makes it think there’s cause for panic. Showing them you’re calm and relaxed helps them understand there’s no real danger.

Find Love!