At the end of October, the Kennel Club has released new statistics highlighting a steep 120% increase in the number of missing dogs during the fireworks season. These statistics arrive just ahead of Diwali and Bonfire Night celebrations.
Data from Petlog, the Kennel Club’s microchip databases, reveals a troubling trend. During the Bonfire Night weekend last year (Friday 4 November – Sunday 6 November), over twice the number of dogs went missing compared to the previous weekend.
Fireworks and Pet Anxiety
The flashing lights and deafening bangs that accompany Bonfire Night and Diwali celebrations often have a profound impact on the behaviour of pets in the UK leading some to escape or run away. Kennel Club research shows that nationwide, nearly half (48%) of dog owners indicate that their dogs are afraid of fireworks. Additional findings reveal that a significant number of dogs display signs of stress during firework displays, including trembling (31%), unusual excessive barking (26%), pacing (20%), howling and crying (20%), and excessive panting (18).
Mark Beazley, Chief Executive at The Kennel Club, said: “Loud and bright fireworks displays, especially if they are unexpected, can have harmful and long-term effects, with dozens of dogs going missing every year around this time, and thousands more showing real signs of fear and distress.”
The Kennel Club’s Suggestions
To help dogs navigate fireworks season with comfort and safety, The Kennel Club has created a Spotify playlist that exposes dogs to firework-like sounds. Owners should start playing this playlist at a low volume for short intervals and gradually increase the volume to avoid distress. If the dog exhibits signs of distress, owners should stop immediately and seek assistance from a qualified trainer or behaviourist.
The Kennel Club suggests several other strategies, including:
- Creating a Safe Space: Prepare a secure area for your dog with their favourite toys and blankets. Soundproof it with a thick duvet, but ensure it’s secure and won’t fall on your dog.
- Limit Exposure to Lights and Sounds: Keep doors and windows shut and curtains drawn to block flashing lights. Use TV or radio for distraction or appliances like a washing machine or tumble dryer that produce vibrations.
- Be Informed: Learn about local fireworks displays and ask neighbours about any private displays.
- Positive Reinforcement: Acknowledge your dog’s calm and settled behaviour during fireworks.
- Microchip Updates: Ensure your dog’s microchip details are up to date, simplifying reunion if they run away or escape.
- Maintain Normal Behaviour: Act and behave normally, remaining calm and cheerful, to send positive signals to your dog.
- Daytime Walks: Consider walking your dog during daylight hours during fireworks season to avoid nearby displays.
For more information and comprehensive advice on ensuring dogs’ safety and comfort during fireworks season, including The Kennel Club’s policy recommendations to the Government, visit The Kennel Club’s website.
Image by The Kennel Club – Eleanor Riley