Fireworks & Halloween Advice
Dogs’ hearing is approximately four times more sensitive than us humans and they can hear much higher frequency sounds than people, so you can imagine how loud the whizz, pop and bang of fireworks can be for dogs! With lots of different sounds, sights and smells around that only appear once a year, it can be very unsettling, so it’s important we watch out for them during spooky season.
Tips for a trick free Halloween:
- Never force your dog to wear a dog costume, it could make them uncomfortable, overheat or feel worried. Festive doggie bandanas are usually more acceptable for dogs.
- Don’t force your dog to receive any unwanted attention, even from family members, as they may not recognise people in costumes and feel frightened.
- Make sure that your dog is wearing a collar and an ID tag and that their microchip details are up to date via www.fido.ie in case they escape.
- Keep treats and sweets away from your furry friends. Chocolate, raisins, grapes and the sweetener xylitol are some of the foods that are toxic to dogs. If you suspect your dog has eaten anything they shouldn’t, please call your local veterinary practice immediately and always store their out of hours emergency number on your phone. Why not try whipping up a batch of our 'Spooky Dog Treats’ for your pup to enjoy (in moderation) instead! We've put the recipe at the bottom of this page 👻🐶
- We don't recommend taking your dog ‘Trick or Treating’, but that doesn’t mean your dog needs to be left out of the fun. As well as keeping your dog safe, it’s important to ensure that you can make the night as enjoyable for them as possible by keeping them happily occupied with treats and games.
- Give your dog a K9 Connectable (or other long-lasting chew/slow feeder toy) jam packed with tasty goodies, this will help keep their mind occupied and give them something to do.
- Keep an eye on your dog’s body language and respond appropriately if you spot any signs of fear or anxiety. Make sure your dog has the opportunity to move away from a situation or interaction if they choose to.
How to prepare your dog before fireworks begin
- Ask neighbours and research local events – find out the dates of local firework displays and ask your neighbours if they plan to let any off. This will help you prepare and plan your cosy nights in.
- Walk your dog before dark and keep them safely indoors once the sun sets – make sure your dog is well exercised and has had a toilet break well before any fireworks begin.
- Feed your dog before the fireworks begin as they may become unsettled and not want to eat during the fireworks.
- Make sure your house and garden are secure during the fireworks, as some dogs may try to run away if they’re scared. Also, be sure your dog’s microchip details are up to date and they are wearing a collar and ID tag, so you can be reunited quickly, should your dog get out.
- Try to settle your dog before any fireworks start – if your dog is in familiar, safe surroundings, it can help them cope with the noise.
- Providing a safe hiding place for your dog is important for their comfort year-round. However, at noisy times like Halloween, we can try to make them feel extra safe by creating a Doggie Den for them, for example by putting comfy bed under the table with blankets to make it cosy and help with soundproofing. You should also close the curtains, turn the lights on, and turn up the volume on your TV or radio to drown out the firework noises. We recommend popping on some reggae style music, as this has a slow rhythmic beat that won’t startle your dog!
- If your dog is already frightened of noises or fireworks, talk to your vet about a referral to an accredited behaviourist, who will create a tailored plan to support you and your dog. It’s important to let your vet know about your dog’s fear of noises so they can check there are no contributing medical problems. Your vet will also be able to suggest whether additional treatments might be helpful.
How to help your dog during fireworks
- Comfort and reassure your dog. Try to remain calm yourself and avoid telling your dog off as this might make them more worried.
- If your dog just wants to hide away then don't force them to come out of their hiding place, allow them to stay where they feel safe.
- Don't leave your dog alone in the house during the fireworks period – they may panic and this could result in an injury.
- Keeping your dog busy indoors can help take their mind off the noise. Play games or practise some reward-based training.
- Be extra careful when opening the door as your dog may escape; if possible, try to ensure there is another closed door between your dog and your front door.
Longer term treatment: What to do if your dog has a fear of fireworks or loud noises
If you think that your dog gets worried by loud noises, contact your vet to see if there's an underlying health problem first, and to help you find a qualified behaviourist. Your vet will also be able to discuss whether medication might be helpful. Some of the signs they might be showing if they are worried:
- Pacing around the house or struggling to settle
- Freezing or jumping when they hear a loud noise
- Cowering or hiding when they hear a loud noise
- Seeking more reassurance from you
- Changes to their normal eating and drinking patterns
- Panting or shaking
- Barking or whimpering more
- Any change in their normal behaviours
- Any new behaviours that they normally don't display
Setting your dog up for success!
Dogs that are safely and gradually exposed to many different experiences, including loud noises, during their essential socialisation period of three to 16 weeks of age, are often able to cope more effectively with loud, frightening sounds like fireworks or loud engine noises.
With this in mind, we have added 'Sounds Scary' below which helps your puppy to become slowly accustomed to the sounds of fireworks over a period of weeks or months. Sounds Scary is not only backed by years of clinical experience; it is also scientifically proven to be safe, effective and easy to use. Try it out with your puppy, but make sure to read the instruction booklet first! Remember if you think your dog is uncomfortable with any noises its important to speak to your vet.
Sounds Scary Booklet Download
Sounds Scary Fireworks