Number of missing dogs doubles during fireworks season

Fireworks. Credit The Kennel Club Eleanor Riley
Fireworks. Credit The Kennel Club Eleanor Riley

New statistics released today (31 October) by The Kennel Club, ahead of Diwali and Bonfire Night celebrations, show an alarming 120 per cent increase in the number of dogs that go missing during fireworks season.

Missing pet data from Petlog, one of the UK’s largest lost and found pet databases run by The Kennel Club, shows over double the number of dogs were marked as missing by their owners during the weekend of Bonfire Night last year (Friday 4 November – Sunday 6 November), compared to the previous weekend.

Bonfire Night and Diwali celebrations are often accompanied by bright and loud fireworks displays which can frighten and negatively impact the behaviour of the UK’s pets, causing some to escape or run away.

Research from The Kennel Club shows that nationwide, nearly half (48%) of owners say their dog is scared by fireworks, with a third (31%) noticing that their dog shivers and trembles during firework displays, while more than a quarter (26%) mention unusual excessive barking. Further signs of stress spotted by owners include pacing (20%), howling and crying (20%) and excessive panting (18%).

“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," comments Mark Beazley, Chief Executive at The Kennel Club.

“We’re urging owners to be prepared this fireworks season and know what they can do to help their dogs get through any events safely, and for those involved in displays to be considerate to the nation’s pets.”

To help dogs get through fireworks season as safely and comfortably as possible, The Kennel Club has created a Spotify playlist which can help owners to get their dogs used to the noises. Experts advise owners to start this playlist on a very low volume for a short amount of time and slowly build up to avoid causing your dog any distress - if your dog does start showing signs of distress, stop immediately, and seek help from a qualified trainer or behaviourist.

Of course, owners should also remember that there are multiple elements of fireworks which can trigger fear, from cracks and whistles, followed by bangs, to vibrations, flashing lights and the strong smells in the air. Whilst playing these sounds may help some dogs, it is not the complete remedy, and further advice from The Kennel Club includes:

  • Making a safe space for your dog filled with their favourite toys and blankets. You could drape a thick duvet over the top of it to make it more soundproof, but make sure that it's secure and can't fall on to your dog
  • Shutting all the doors and windows, and keeping curtains closed to block flashing lights
  • Distracting your dog or trying to drown out the sounds by keeping the TV or radio switched on, or a washing machine or tumble drier which gives off vibrations
  • Checking where and when displays are being held in your local area.  Also ask your neighbours to let you know if they are planning a private display
  • Gently acknowledging your dog’s calm and settled behaviour during fireworks
  • Keeping your dog’s microchip details up to date makes it easier to reunite you with your dog, in case they run away or escape
  • Trying to act and behave as normal - your dog will pick up on any unusual behaviour. Remain calm, happy and cheerful as this will send positive signals to your dog
  • Think about walking your dog when it’s light during fireworks season, so it’s easier to avoid any nearby displays frightening your dog whilst you’re out

More information and advice on how to make sure dogs are safe and comfortable during fireworks season, as well as the organisation’s policy recommendations to Government, is available via The Kennel Club’s website.  To check if your pet’s microchip details are up to date, visit the Petlog website.