Most animals don’t like loud noises, like loud voices, loud music, gunshots, thunder or fireworks. Some are even fearful of these things. While you can’t predict some loud noises, you often know when a thunderstorm is coming or when your community is scheduled to set off fireworks. For these situations, you can try a few things to help your fearful pet through the noise.
There are varying degrees of fear or anxiety, especially when it comes to loud noises. Some animals will run and hide. Others will simply shake. Some pets feel safer climbing on their owner’s lap. However, there are pets who are so fearful or anxious during loud noise events, specifically thunderstorms or fireworks, that they will work to escape from wire crates, chew or dig through doors, or even go through glass windows in an attempt to escape the noise. This often results not only in destruction of property, but injury to the pet, and the pet possibly getting loose and becoming lost.
So how can you help your pet?
No matter the level of anxiety your pet has, all pets can benefit from quiet, soothing background noise. Many pet owners leave a television on for their pets. Better than this is a radio station tuned to soothing classical musical (not rock & roll, country, or pop, as some songs can be too abrupt for anxious pets). Here at Suburban, we often use the CD ‘Through a Dog’s Ear’ in our kennel for surgery patients, and also for our acupuncture patients, to help with calming.
All pets would also benefit from Adaptil (dog) or Feliway (cat). These are pheromones released from dogs and cats that help calm and reassure them. Both Adaptil & Feliway are available in plug-in diffusers that work for about 30 days (after which you must purchase a refill vial), as well as a spray which is beneficial for carriers or cars for travel. The spray can also be used on collars or bandanas worn by the pets, however it only lasts a few hours. Dogs also have the option of an Adaptil collar. Once opened, the collar lasts about 30 days and is with the pet wherever it goes.
Also available are Thunder Shirts. Thunder shirts may benefit any dog or cat which anxiety or fear. The gentle pressure of the thunder shirt seems to give some pets the reassurance and security it needs to remain calm. While it’s not a 100% cure, it may help relieve some of the stress and anxiety associated with fears such as loud noises.
When the above doesn’t work, or for the pet who has hurt himself or very likely to hurt himself, there’s medication available from your veterinarian. Most pets used to be given a light sedative. The problem with a sedative is it does nothing for the actual anxiety or fear. It just slows them down physically and mentally. Now available for pets is anti-anxiety medication. Many pet owners give this medication to their pets before an approaching storm, or for several days around July 4th when fireworks are prevalent, to help lower the anxiety level.
No one solution will work for every animal, and some may require several of the above options together to get through a loud noise event. You know your pet best. When you find something that works, stick to it! If you use medication, watch the levels carefully. Keep in mind that most regular veterinarians have special holiday hours, so be sure to call in advance for refills to ensure you have the medication your pet needs.
A few other things to consider. Some pets associate the flash of lightning with the impending boom of thunder. Try closing the curtains or blinds in the room your pet is in. This may help reduce some of the fear and anxiety.
Also, NEVER take a pet to a fireworks event! More dogs are lost and turned into shelters around the July 4th holiday than at any other time of the year. Leave your pet at home!! Even if your pet is fine with loud noises at home, the intense sound and vibrations from the fireworks or loud flashes, as well as the crowds, can be too much for many dogs, resulting in injuries or escapes. Play it safe and leave your pet at home!
For more information on Adaptil, visit http://www.adaptil.com.