Soundproofing to soft rock: vet tips for a stress-free Bonfire Night for pets

From safe-haven pubs and soundproofed dens to calming Spotify playlists and pheromone diffusers, desperate pet owners are turning to a number of unusual techniques to try to soothe their anxious pets on Bonfire Night .Increasing awareness of the distress caused to animals by pyrotechnics has led to growing backlash against fireworks in recent years. Sainsbury’s stopped selling them in 2019, and other supermarkets have increased their low or no-noise offerings this year.Despite this, the RSPCA is anticipating a bumper year for calls about distressed animals. A recent poll has shown that, with so many fireworks events cancelled , 52% of the public will be attending unofficial at-home displays, up from 41% in 2020 and 23% in 2019.

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“Our pets’ senses are very sensitive, and they can pick up vibrations and sounds that we as humans can’t,” said Anna Ewers Clark, a vet at the charity People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals . “So fireworks aren’t only loud to them, they also cause a whole sensory overload.

“They also don’t understand where the noise is coming from. It’s a perfect storm of factors that can be very overwhelming and scary for them.”

This year Pets At Home has launched three playlists on Spotify – soft rock, reggae and classical – for owners to play for their pets, a technique that can provide a “buffer” against the sound of the fireworks outside, Ewers Clark said.

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In fact one pub in Manchester said it would be turning its music up in order to drown out the noise of fireworks and create a “safe haven” for dogs on Friday night. The dog-friendly New Grove Inn in Whitefield said it would also be offering special dog treats to help canines get through the stressful evening.To ensure animals have as stress-free a night as possible, Ewers Clark recommends the following tactics:


Dog-oriented music is becoming big business, and there’s even research into what kind of music animals prefer – a 2017 study by the SPCA and the University of Glasgow found that reggae and soft rock were the best genres for reducing stress, barking and heart rates in dogs.


“Building a den or a safe place works really well for a lot of pets,” Ewers Clark advised. But don’t forget small pets like rabbits and guinea pigs too. “A lot of small pets will really benefit from having somewhere to hide, perhaps some blankets or some hay. It will help to muffle the noise, and also gives them that sense of security.”

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Pheromone diffusers

Pheromone diffusers and calming supplements are absolutely fantastic,” said Ewers Clark. “But they do unfortunately often take a little while to kick in.” Using them once an animal is already stressed out has little effect, she said. “I would recommend getting them straight away and putting them in place for new year.”

Noise desensitisation

For particularly troubled pets, Ewers Clark recommends getting in touch with a behaviourist to help your dog densensitise to sound over time. “We basically play the sounds at a very low level, so your pet is not reacting. And then we do counter conditioning, where we pair it with something really, really positive, like a treat or a game,” she said. “So they don’t just learn the noise isn’t scary, they learn that actually it’s a fun time. And you can gradually increase the level of noise until it’s similar to the real thing.”

Research what type of pet is best suited for your family’s personality and lifestyle. Dogs require more attention, time and energy than cats do, so if you don’t enjoy walks or hikes in the outdoors, or can’t imagine getting up on cold winter mornings to take your pet out to potty, a cat may be more your style.