Storms, Fireworks, and Other Causes of Noise Anxiety in Pets
From the sudden rumble of thunder to the hiss-pop-and-bang of local fireworks, noise anxiety in pets is a common concern for many pet owners.
During the spring and summer months, noise from thunderstorms and those celebratory post-ballgame and Fourth of July fireworks can present more of a problem for noise-sensitive pets.
Although most pets can be frightened by noise, in some it becomes a chronic condition or phobia that can create health issues and an increased risk of escape.
Since it is impossible to shelter a pet from all noises, the question is what can be done to help your fur friend better cope with the ensuing clamor.
Alleviating the Stress Associated with Noise Anxiety in Pets
Some pets have incredible hearing and are attuned to much higher frequencies than us, so it is understandable that they are more sensitive to noise. But, when your pet suffers from noise phobia, this fear may result in a pet hiding for days and physical symptoms such as dehydration, diarrhea, and increased heart rate.
However, the good news is that there are steps you can take to help your pet better cope with noise aversion.
Create a safe place – If you anticipate an evening of noise (July 4th, nearby ballgame, thunderstorm), first create a place within the home that will act as a safe place or type of den for your pet. For example, a small bedroom or office in the center of the home, where outside noise can be muffled.
If you have crate-trained your pet, adding his or her crate with some cozy blankets makes for the perfect den.
It’s also a good idea to have a family member present, providing reassurance through the worst of the noise. For dogs, a good way to help is by allowing him/her to sleep with you or another family member since this can assuage some of the fear. (In the wild, pack members will huddle together for comfort and protection and this instinct continues in our canine pals.)
To prevent a potential missing pet scare, bring all outdoor pets inside and make sure doors and windows are closed.
There are also a number of products designed to alleviate noise aversion and fear. One of the most effective of these is the Thundershirt. The Thundershirt is essentially a snug-fitting garment that applies consistent pressure to your pet’s torso.
This pressure soothes your cat or dog during any situation that might cause stress, whether noise related or otherwise.
To help muffle the sound, you can also turn on a radio or television. If your pet seems more responsive to music, try one of the sound therapy CDs designed for cats or dogs with noise aversion challenges.
Pheromone based sprays can also be helpful, particularly for anxiety in cats.
Some pets also respond well to challenging games or toys, such as a Kong chew filled with peanut butter or a food dispensing puzzle.
When Veterinary Intervention is Needed
In some cases, fear can escalate to phobia or stress that can affect your pet’s health and cause a number of destructive behaviors.
The team at Animal Family Veterinary Care Center encourages you to schedule a consultation if your pet has more aggravated forms of noise aversion. We can help recommend gentle desensitization techniques that can acclimate your pet to noise as well as medication options.
While there’s no stopping the thundercloud BOOM! and holiday pops and sizzles, there are ways to make the sounds of the season much less stressful for your fur friend.