Noise anxiety in dogs is quite common, affecting about one-third of all companion canines in the United States. From fireworks to thunderstorms, spring and summer are often the worst times for our noise averse pets. Fortunately, helping them to better cope is something we at Shelden Veterinary Care take very seriously.
On the surface, a bit of noise anxiety or fear may not seem like that big of a deal. After all, the family cat is terrified of the vacuum and usually just finds a place to hide when the “dreaded machine” comes out. In actuality, noise aversion can pose many problems to health, safety, and general well-being.
What is Noise Aversion?
Noise aversion among pets produces fear and can escalate to a phobia when left unaddressed. These noises can include anything that’s both noisy and startling, including fireworks, gun shots, thunder, road construction, and so on.
Depending on the pet, there can be a wide range of responses and levels of severity. Typically, noise aversion is expressed with the following signs:
- Licking lips/panting
- Changes in posture and physical stance (ears back, cowering, freezing, etc.)
- Attempts to escape
Noise anxiety can develop into a chronic phobia, compromising immunity and health, as well as safety. Many pets go missing during the holidays and after a thunderstorm. If a pet escapes, numerous risks await him or her, including becoming permanently lost, being exposed to illnesses, and becoming injured. Chronic anxiety can also be disheartening for the pet’s family, as they helplessly watch their pet tremble in fear.
However, because this is such a common condition, there is good news! There are many ways you can help your canine pal deal with these fears.
Addressing Noise Anxiety in Dogs
Your first step in addressing noise anxiety is an appointment with your friends at Shelden. Because some of the symptoms of anxiety can also indicate other health and behavioral issues, it’s important that your pet be examined. We can also discuss when these behaviors occur most often, how frequently, and if they have gotten worse.
If your pet is only mildly affected, simply buffering the noise by keeping him or her in a secure room with a tv, radio, or white noise machine may be a great solution. Likewise, if you plan on doing something noisy in your home, like vacuuming, this may be the perfect time for your pet to go on a walk with another family member. If you’re planning a big party for occasions like the Fourth of July, you should consider where your pet will be safest, such as a boarding facility or with a pet sitter or close friend.
In the case of chronic noise aversion, there are also some good options, including:
- Behavioral counseling and training to gently help your pet become desensitized to loud noises
- Medications that are mildly sedating
- Products like the Thundershirt, which apply soothing pressure to your pet’s torso
One new product we often recommend is SILEO, a gel-based medication you can apply at home. Unlike other medications, SILEO does not sedate, but does have a calming effect.
To learn more about noise anxiety in dogs, the team at Shelden is here for you! Please give us a call.