Pop Goes the World: When Your Pet Suffers from Noise Anxiety

AIMSS_iStock_000012800041_LargeFrom festive fireworks and thunder claps, to lawnmowers and late-night backyard parties, the sounds of summer can be stressful for our pets.

This time of year it seems like everywhere we go there is some kind of event, festivity, or gathering, many of which are more than a little rambunctious. And while we may enjoy the excitement associated with the season, the good times may prove to be more than a little stressful to our pets.

Pet Noise Anxiety: A Questionnaire

Understanding your pet’s fear response to noise is a cumulative effort of observing his or her behavior over time, and in reaction to certain stimuli. If your dog always begins to tremble when a thunderstorm rolls through or if your cat hides for 24 hours after the onset of a rowdy party, he or she may suffer from anxiety.

Unfortunately, it is not always possible to know why certain pets develop phobias. Since many of our pets come to us as adopted adults, it is likely we were not present at the onset of the fear-inducing event.

Here are some behavioral criteria to help you determine the severity of your pet’s hypervigilance or sensitivity to loud sounds.

When a loud and sudden noisy event begins, does your pet react in any of the following ways?

  • Increased vocalization, yowling, or whining
  • Increased panting and/or salivation
  • Sudden destructive behavior – chewing, scratching, etc.
  • Trembling or pacing
  • Hiding (cats are more likely to hide)
  • Uncontrolled urination or defecation
  • Clinginess
  • Lack of appetite
  • Attempts to escape

If you have identified one or more of these behaviors in your pet, consistent with an associated loud noise, he or she may be suffering from some degree of noise anxiety.

Helping Your Pet Through the Fear

While there is no absolute solution to curing a pet’s anxiety, there are many options in helping your pet cope. Before we get into the at-home recommendations, it is important to make sure there are no medical conditions that may be at the root of the problem. Through a thorough physical examination, health conditions or pain, which can prompt some of the above symptoms, can be ruled out.

Some pets, too, can be better supported through the use of behavioral therapy or anxiety medications. If your pet is experiencing more severe or ongoing anxiety, contact us for a consultation.

Naturally, when a pet is experiencing fear it can be upsetting. Here are some ways you can help diminish the severity of noise anxiety.

  • Keep a journal or notebook on your pet’s response and fear level to each loud noise event (which can help you determine the fear source as well as how to better prepare)
  • If possible, move your pet to a quiet room without windows and reduce outside noise through the use of a white noise machine, tv, or radio
  • Don’t leave your pet alone, many pets are soothed through being with family members whom they view as their pack
  • Try not to overreact to your pet’s response with too much attention, since this can reinforce the anxiety
  • Provide favorite toys or comfort items, along with a crate (if your pet has been crate trained and views the crate as a source of safety/security)
  • Make sure all windows and doors are securely closed, since many pets natural response to fear is to run away
  • Consider trying a product such as the Thundershirt, which has proven very effective in reducing cat and dog noise anxiety

We hope you have found these suggestions helpful. Fear in a beloved pet can be heartbreaking and worrisome, but there are many options – from medical intervention through noise reduction strategies – that can help keep your pet safe while lessening the impact of anxiety.