Naper_iStock_000026309122_LargeDid you know noise anxiety is one of the most common forms of anxiety and phobias in pets? It is estimated that 10 million dogs suffer from noise related fear, and the same for many cats, yet it can often seem as there is no escaping noise….

Whether it comes from the loud clap of a summertime storm or the festival spray of seasonal fireworks, noise is everywhere. And, let us not forget road repair season, construction season, and the general cacophony of summertime fun.

So, how do you shield your stressed out pet from the ensuing stress? And how do you recognize when mild anxiety turns into a phobia that requires behavioral assistance? Let’s explore…

Ways to Alleviate the Stress of Noise Anxiety In Pets

Unfortunately, we cannot console our pets by explaining the source of noise and that it is nothing to worry about. This means that the challenge for pet parents with noise-anxious fur kids is to figure out how to diminish some of the stress.

First, it is important to recognize the signs of anxiety. These will often include:

  • Pacing
  • Increased accidents
  • Destructive chewing
  • Clinginess
  • Panting
  • Shaking or trembling

If you believe your pet is experiencing a noise related fear or phobia, consider having him seen by his veterinarian to rule out any underlying medical issues that may be causing the behavior.

If your pet is deemed physically fit, here are simple ways to alleviate some of the impact of storms, fireworks, and other noises:

  • Find a safe haven for your pet, either within in a covered crate or a room without windows in the home, where the noise will be muffled.
  • Turn on a radio or the television to create background noise, or use a white noise machine.
  • Stay with your pet and allow him to sleep with you or a child, since this “pack” protection can help soothe him.
  • For kitties, pheromone sprays, such as Feliway, may help diminish stress.
  • Pressure wraps like the Thundershirt have proven to be very effective for both cat and dog noise anxiety.
  • Stay calm and try to maintain consistency in diet, exercise, and other controllable areas of your pet’s daily routine.

When Your Pet May Have Bigger Problems

Sometimes pet anxiety can spiral into full blown phobias or other issues that can impact health and quality of life. In this case, intervention through behavioral counterconditioning or medications may be needed.

Behavior modification generally relies on desensitization and counterconditioning. Desensitization occurs when the source of fear – in this case, loud noises – are gradually introduced and increased as your pet learns to remain calm.

Counterconditioning is when a pet is rewarded for responding favorably each time the negative source of stress is introduced. Pets are praised, for example, for remaining seated during a simulated thunder clap or firework boom. Over time, the negative stimulus becomes associated with a reward for remaining calm.

Both of these techniques can be discussed, as well as medication options, with the Pet Experts at Naperville Animal Hospital.

Although it is tough to see a pet tremble in fear, noise anxiety can be successfully addressed. There is no reason for your pet to live in chronic fear. We hope these tips and suggestions help, and we are here for you if your pet needs additional behavioral assistance.