A dog looking out the window at a fireworks show.

Fireworks and Animals: How to Keep Companion Animals and Wildlife Safe



While traditionally used for celebratory purposes, fireworks are explosives that can frighten wildlife, companion animals, and people living with post-traumatic stress disorder. Here’s how to help companion animals and wildlife when neighbors or municipalities have fireworks shows.

Fireworks are often used on holidays such as the 4th of July or New Year’s Eve, but these bombs of light and booming sounds can actually terrorize companion animals and wildlife.

In fact, more companion animals go missing around the 4th of July than any other time of year, with animal control officials seeing an increase of 30-60% of lost pets each year. Unfortunately, July 5th is one of the busiest days of the year for shelters, which take in these lost animals in an effort to keep them safe and reunite them with their families.

Sadly, according to PetAmberAlert.com, only 14 percent of lost animals are reunited with their guardians, and many of the lost companions cannot be properly identified. As a dog guardian myself, I’ve spent hours consoling my shaking dog, Atlas, who would certainly run away if I did not follow the tips below to keep him safe.

Prepare Your Home

When you know fireworks celebrations are going to happen, it’s important to prepare your home so the animals who share it with you can feel safe and secure. Close all the windows, including the window treatments, so that you can block out the flashing lights and muffle some of the noises. In addition, turn on the television or stream some music to mask the sounds.

Animals like cats often hide when they’re scared, so give them places where they can go and not be bothered—but make sure you know where they will likely be so you can check on them once the celebrations are over.

Additionally, make sure all of your companion animals are inside before the fireworks start. If you have outdoor cats (such as a feral colony you care for), try to relocate them indoors so they are not at risk of running away and injuring themselves.

For small animals, such as rabbits, guinea pigs, and hamsters, it’s important to relocate their enclosures to quiet rooms, give them extra bedding or straw so they can hide and feel safe, and cover their cage with a thick blanket to block out some of the light and noises (it’s important to leave enough space for ventilation, though!).

*Please note that World Animal Protection US does not support the purchasing of any animals, including birds, guinea pigs, reptiles, dogs, and cats. However, those who are already in homes or have been rescued are deserving of the utmost care.

Prepare Your Companion

The sad fact that lost animals cannot be reunited with their families due to proper identification is something that can be easily remedied. During your annual vet visit (which everyone should be doing!), make sure your companion animal’s microchip can be scanned and that the information on it is updated. It’s also important that animals who can wear collars have IDs on those collars with your information on it for quick reunification. 

If you have advanced notice, such as 4th of July celebrations, you can help desensitize your companion animals from the loud noises by playing firework sounds on your TV and slowly increasing the volume while providing them with treats or other things they love (like playing with a favorite toy).

You’re the person who knows your companion animal the most, so if desensitization doesn’t work, asking your veterinarian for medications or natural remedies that might calm your animal’s anxiety is an option to be utilized.

Be Aware of Wildlife

As these celebrations can be rather lengthy, be aware that wild animals can flee in fear to find safety, ending up on roadways, flying into buildings, or abandoning nests. If you’re out driving, please take extra precautions on who might be coming across roadways at the same time as you.

If you know animals, such as bald eagles or other local wildlife, have nests or dens nearby that you have located previously, keep an eye on the vulnerable young animals and contact a wildlife rehabilitator if possible. There are numerous resources available for finding an appropriate wildlife rehabilitator on your state’s Department of Environmental Conservation website. 

While you can’t control your neighbors, you might have to clean up after them. Any resulting debris from fireworks can end up in our waterways and get ingested by marine life. Not only are the debris from explosives choking hazards, they can be toxic as well.

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