A stray dog in the snow

Fireworks and Firecrackers Pose Danger to Animals and Environment

Animal welfare organisation calls for responsible New Year’s celebrations without fireworks


Vienna, 21 December 2023 – With the approaching holiday season, global animal welfare organisation FOUR PAWS is once again appealing to the public to refrain from using pyrotechnics during New Year’s Eve celebrations. For every animal, the sound of firecrackers poses a potential realistic but vague threat. As a result, pets and wild animals might react with stress and eventually panic, which can lead to fatal accidents or life-threatening situations. Furthermore, the usage of fireworks has severe negative impacts on the environment, as the colourful rockets are a serious cause of fine dust pollution and can contain toxic metals like aluminium, which are harmful to every living creature. FOUR PAWS advises using kind and quiet alternatives and to use animal-friendly approaches to train pets to get used to the noise.

“The sounds of fireworks are perceived much louder by animals than by humans. I am sure many people would be horrified to learn their New Year’s celebration are a cause of animal suffering for both pets and wildlife. Fortunately, the topic has gained more and more attention in the public in recent years, with a growing number of supporters across the planet. In some countries, like Bulgaria, it even has evolved into a national campaign with media, institutions, and hundreds of celebrities backing up the cause for quiet and kind New Year’s Celebrations.”

Nick Weston, Head of International Companion Animal Campaigns

Methods to protect and mildly prepare pets

Luckily there are methods for pets to cope with stress. When walking a dog around Christmas and New Year, it is highly recommended to take them out on a leash with a medallion with the owner's phone number and to choose times during the day when it is relatively quiet. Other methods to fend off potential danger of panic are to early habituate the animals, if still puppy-aged and the idea of desensitisation, where the actual sounds of fireworks are played to the pet via CD or any other audio source, and to slightly increase the volume so the pets can get used to the noise more mildly.

Dr Nadezhda Mecheva, Head of FOUR PAWS Veterinary Clinic in the city of Bankya, says: "Every dog and cat can become panic-stricken at the thunder and flashes that the fireworks accompany. That's why it is important to firstly be able to recognise the signs when an animal is stressed: rapid breathing, increased salivation and a loss of orientation. The latter imposes a life-threatening danger as our four-pawed friends may run out into panic and onto a busy roadway.”

“To protect our pets as well as stray animals and wildlife, FOUR PAWS urges people to replace  pyrotechnics with a more responsible and less dangerous way of celebrating the holiday – soap bubbles or laser beams – to name a few exciting alternatives," adds Weston.

House cat inside

Fireworks Are Frightening for Pets

Find out more
Michael Kellner

Michael Kellner

PR International Officer


+43 (1) 89 50 20 20

+43 (0) 664 504 38 97

VIER PFOTEN International 
Linke Wienzeile 236
1150 Vienna, Austria

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FOUR PAWS is the global animal welfare organisation for animals under direct human influence, which reveals suffering, rescues animals in need and protects them. Founded in 1988 in Vienna by Heli Dungler and friends, the organisation advocates for a world where humans treat animals with respect, empathy and understanding. The sustainable campaigns and projects of FOUR PAWS focus on companion animals including stray dogs and cats, farm animals and wild animals – such as bears, big cats and orangutans – kept in inappropriate conditions as well as in disaster and conflict zones. With offices in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Kosovo, the Netherlands, Switzerland, South Africa, Thailand, Ukraine, the UK, the USA and Vietnam as well as sanctuaries for rescued animals in eleven countries, FOUR PAWS provides rapid help and long-term solutions. www.four-paws.org

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