Keep your pets safe and sound

Wood Green, The Animals Charity is urging responsible pet owners to protect their pets this fireworks season. From Bonfire Night to New Year celebrations, every year thousands of animals suffer as a result of fireworks being let off.

It is important that people and pet owners are aware of how much suffering can be caused to animals by the casual use of fireworks. We are urging animal lovers to help us spread the word and tell people what they can do to help their pets cope.

We've made this video to give people an idea of what if feels like for an animal when something inexplicable happens that threatens their sense of well-being and security, like fireworks. We hope you'll share it.


We also have lots of advice on keeping your dogs, cats, small animals and field animals safe around fireworks.


Watch our advice video or read below for further tips.


40757277 somewhatguiltyEach dog can show different signs of fear. One dog may wag its tail and growl, while another may visibly shake. Owners should therefore learn exactly what body signs their dog chooses to use to manifest its fear. Behaviours to watch out for include:

  • Yawning, lip licking, paw lifting
  • Hiding and finding a place to hide
  • Panting and pacing
  • Growling and biting
  • Shaking
  • Anal gland emission - some very frightened dogs may release some anal gland fluids

How to manage a fearful dog:

  • Have a place for your dog to hide
  • If your dog comes out to you, praise for being brave
  • If your dog comes to you for reassurance, stay calm and try not to coddle him.
  • On the night and during the firework period, make sure the dog is tired, having had a good walk and meal.
  • Close the curtains and put the radio or TV on for background noise.
  • Give your dog a special treat, a favourite chew or a filled kong to keep him busy.
  • If your dog is displaying mild anxiety, distract him with a play or training session.


Watch our advice video or read below for further tips.


shutterstock 71842732Some cats show obvious signs of fear whereas other are more passive and will do all they can to hide their fearful response. Behaviours to watch out for include:

  • Dilated/enlarged pupils
  • Arched back
  • Crouching gait, low carriage of tail and slow low movement
  • Hair standing on end
  • Hissing or low grumbling
  • Hiding
  • Unusual behaviour including inappropriate elimination
  • Trying to appear smaller
  • Withdrawing from owner
  • Ears back and 'freezing'

How to manage a fearful cat:

  • If your cat has access to outdoor space, keep him in when it gets dark on the appropriate days.
  • Curtains should be drawn.
  • Play music or put the television on to help mark the sound of fireworks.
  • Try not to reassure your cat, it's much more useful to act normally.
  • Your cats favourite hiding place must be accessible and any temptation to check on him if he retreats there should be avoided.
  • Provide an indoor litter tray in a convenient location, although anxious cats often avoid toilet visits if they feel threatened.
  • If your cat becomes extremely anxious, speak to your vet.

Field animals

Watch our advice video or read below for further tips.


All field animals show these signs when in a fearful state (except poultry). Behaviours to watch out for include:

  • Showing the whites of their eyes
  • Rolling of eyes
  • Licking lips, yawning and picking up food without digesting the food
  • Stomping feet
  • Displaying any unnatural behaviour
  • Running with the heard

How to manager a fearful field animal:

  • Speak to your neighbours to find out when and where fireworks displays are being held so you can prepare.
  • Keep to a normal routine, but if possible make sure your animal has been fed an hour before a display starts.
  • Some animals benefit from being shut inside but others will be less stressed staying in their normal paddock with the herd.
  • All animals need company and whether stabled or turned out they must have company.
  • If you keep your animal stabled, keep a light and radio on with soothing music to help block out the noise.
  • Shut all poultry away so they can roost safely.
  • Check the fields before you turnout the following morning for any remains of fireworks.
  • If your animal becomes extremely anxious, speak to your vet.

Small animals

Watch our advice video or read below for further tips.


dreamstime xxl 24786613Rodents and small animals each have their own way of showing signs of fear. Behaviours to watch out for include:


  • Stamping their back feet repetitively, this can continue for several minutes and often occurs after unexpected noises or movements within the environment
  • Hiding in a corner head first
  • Wide eyes or third eyelid across
  • Rapid breathing
  • Kicking and biting when picked up
  • In some cases a bonded pair of rabbits may have a fight

Guinea pigs

  • Darting around, running at the walls
  • Wide eyes
  • Stiffened body
  • Rapid breathing
  • Hiding in a corner head first
  • Digging at the floor trying to cover themselves


  • Releasing of scent glands
  • Darting quickly under cover
  • Hissing
  • Shaking of tail and body trembling
  • Repetitive aggressive bites in the same area when picked up


Rats, mice, hamsters and gerbils have a variety of ways of expressing fear, some can be species specific however, many behaviours are seen in all of the domestic rodent species:

  • Hissing
  • Squealing when picked up
  • High pitched alert squeaks, continuing for several minutes
  • Shaking of tail
  • Stamping feet for several minutes
  • Coat puffed up and walking on ridged tip toes
  • Hiding in small spaces
  • Launching an attack when a hand enters the accommodation

How to manage a fearful small animal

Small animals often find a large and sudden change of environment distressing. We would reccommend the following:

  • Add extra hides and bedding to their accommodation.
  • Lock away outdoor pets in their night accommodation slightly earlier than normal to allow them to settle before the fireworks start.
  • Provide them with their favourite healthy treats in ways that will stimulate them to forage and focus. This could include hay kebabs, paper rummage bags, stuffed toilet rolls, feed balls and activity treat boards.
  • Avoid too much handling.
  • Companionship is the biggest protector against fear for most small animals (not all rodents), a neutered pair of rabbits or a small group of same sex guinea pigs are far more likely to remain in a relaxed state as their same species companions offer security and comfort.