Understand why fireworks frighten dogs and cats

On New Year’s Eve, history repeats itself: owners of dogs and cats, in posters on the streets or posts on social networks, post the escape of their pets, who, frightened, disappeared during the New Year’s Eve fireworks. The problem is so serious that it has prompted bans on loud fireworks in cities such as Sao Paulo, Cuiaba, Campo Grande, Curitiba and Rio de Janeiro, as well as the Federal District. This procedure benefits not only animals, but also the elderly, autistic, children and patients.

Read also: Pet owners should create an environment for New Year’s Eve

A dog and a cat (Image: Getty Images)

Dogs have a greater hearing ability than humans, and for them, noises over 60 decibels, the equivalent of a loud conversation, can cause both physical and psychological stress, according to the Federal Council on Veterinary Medicine (CFMV). The canine ear can perceive a higher frequency of sounds compared to humans, and it can detect sounds four times as far away. For this reason, the burning of fireworks with noise, in celebrations such as New Year’s Eve, becomes a moment of despair for wild and domestic animals.

“This is a very serious problem,” says veterinarian Daniel Pratts, owner of a clinic in the Federal District. “I saw a dog that went through the window [durante a queima de fogos]. I arrived here full of shards of glass stuck to the face, chest and neck area. Fortunately, he did not cut the jugular and did not enter the glass in his eyes. I also attended the case of a dog that died of a heart attack,” he says.

In addition, Brits warns of the dangers of animal escape and accidents. “We were actually greeted by a dog who left the gate frightened and crossed the street and started the car.” And owners of hypersensitive animals are recommended to pay special attention to fireworks. “I advise them to make them comfortable near their owners, where they feel safe. If they are trapped alone or left outside the house, terrible accidents can happen.”

According to veterinarian Keelen Oliveira, chair of the CFMV’s Animal Welfare Committee, many puppies end up with the “socialization error,” which should occur between 21 to 90 days of dogs and cats’ lives, and develop phobias. Especially for loud sounds like fireworks and thunder.

For this, some animals must undergo a process of desensitization or adverse conditioning. Unfortunately, many of those who do not go through this process can die from various causes. For teachers who know their animals suffer from noise phobia, we are asking for special attention now at the end of the year,” he instructs.


Even with municipal laws banning fireworks that contain explosions (gunshots), they can still be heard at big celebrations or the final days of a football tournament. Therefore, it is important for people to take steps to mitigate the effect of excessive noise on their pets. “Currently, it is not possible to perform desensitization, but we have other techniques that can be used to alleviate animal suffering,” Kyleen Oliveira recalls. The CNMV offers some important advice.

1. Identification

First, it is important to maintain the animal’s identity, with a tag on the collar containing a phone number and an email address. If the pet escapes, the chance of its recovery is greater.

2. Environment

Another tip is to create a welcoming environment for the animal. “Set up the environment and get your animal used to an enclosed space that mutes the sound of fireworks. It could be a bedroom, a laundry room or a garage. Do not leave your pet on balconies, near swimming pools or in chains,” advises the entity. It is worth remembering that birds that are raised in cages must also be protected.

This space should contain “dens,” such as the spaces under the bed or carriage boxes. Such dens should contain things with the smell of the owner, especially if the owners are going to spend New Year’s Eve away from their animals. On the other hand, cats like to hide in high places, such as high places in cupboards or shelves.

3. Food

Another tip from the CNMV is not to leave food unattended for your pet. If you feed your dog twice a day, feed him in the morning as usual and prepare toys stuffed with his favorite foods to save around the time of the most intense fires. Natural bones that are too large, to avoid suffocation, may be options. The goal is for him to be motivated to play with toys and to be less concerned about noise.

4. Talk to your vet

If your pet is very stressed, desperate, has seizures or is trying to escape through doors and windows, the alternative is to use sedative medications. Talk to a vet about this. The important thing is that you arrive in 2022 with your pets safe and welcome.

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