In the last four years, we've received a total of 1,543 calls about fireworks and their effects on animals.

This year due to coronavirus restrictions and organised events being cancelled, a recent poll has confirmed 18% more people in England and Wales will be holding private displays in their back gardens. The increased number of private firework displays means we could see more calls coming in about animals and fireworks.

High numbers of pets affected by fireworks

Around 62% of dogs show signs of distress during fireworks. This alone means thousands of animals are affected by unplanned and random fireworks each year.

Ava before fireworks

Results also saw other animals showing distress during fireworks:

  • 54% of cats
  • 55% of horses

The British Horse Society reports 20 deaths, 10 severe injuries, and 88 mild to moderate injuries in horses in fireworks incidents since 2010.

Fireworks are damaging to farm animals and wildlife

Sadly it's not just household pets that are affected by fireworks.

  • Farm animals are easily frightened by loud noises and sudden flashes of bright light, which can startle and cause them to injure themselves on fencing and farm equipment.
  • Wildlife, like hedgehogs, are also at risk of being burnt alive after making their homes in bonfires.
  • Fireworks are also highly disturbing to some birds and have caused the abandonment of nests or even whole colonies.

Take action for change

85% of people think public firework displays should be licensed. This is just one of the changes we're calling for. If you agree, join us by encouraging your local council to take more action on fireworks.

Ava's story

Dog Ava distressed after hearing fireworks © RSPCA

When Julie Lumley-Pistor and her husband, from Portsmouth, Hampshire, went out on the evening of 22 August, leaving their two dogs at home, they had no concerns. They certainly didn't expect fireworks to frighten their usually happy Staffie, Ava, who finds fireworks season very stressful.

They left at 7pm to visit a neighbour's home for dinner. Julie said:

It was the middle of summer, we never expected fireworks to be going off!

Our dogs had been walked, fed and had play time and were to be home for around two hours until my daughter returned from work.

At around 8.30pm some extremely loud fireworks were let off from a nearby house as part of a birthday celebration. The display was very short but a couple of the fireworks were extremely loud, shaking the windows.

When our daughter returned home at around 9.15pm she found Ava collapsed on the bed, hyperventilating and surrounded by splatters of blood (pictured). We returned home right away and spent almost two hours calming her down and getting her breathing back to normal.

Ava had clearly been incredibly shocked and frightened by the fireworks and, in her panic, had cut herself. It was heartbreaking to have seen her in such a state.

Firework regulation changes we are calling for

Restrict private use to traditional dates

Restrict the private use of fireworks to agreed traditional dates (i.e. November 5th, New Year's Eve, Chinese New Year and Diwali). These dates are already recognised as being exceptional in the fireworks regulations and we believe that the existing prohibition on sales at all other times could and should be extended to include use as well.

Reduce maximum permitted decibels for private use

We want to see the maximum permitted noise level of fireworks for public sale reduced to 90 decibels. Noise level studies have indicated that this level - equivalent to a car door slamming - is likely to minimise distress to animals.

The current allowed level, 120 decibels, is equivalent to a jet aircraft taking off. Fireworks above 90 decibels should only be used at licensed public displays.

All public firework displays to be licensed

We believe all public fireworks displays need to be licensed by the relevant licensing authority. Information about the proposed display must be provided in the local area with a process for local residents to appeal against the granting of the licence.

This process should also apply to people seeking to hold private displays at special events such as weddings.

Private fireworks boxes to be labelled

We would also like to see fireworks labelled as 'loud' or 'low noise' to allow consumers to make an informed decision if they do buy fireworks.


Study was conducted in England and Wales via Kantar OnLineBus, an Internet omnibus survey. A sample of 1,137 adults aged 16+ were interviewed in October 2019. 345 dog owners and 320 cat owners and 20 horse owners responded to the question: 'Does your pet/animal show signs of distress during the fireworks season?'.

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