Things that go bump in the night
Many pets suffer at this time of year from noise phobia (an extreme, ongoing fear of sounds that is out of proportion to the real danger, if any, associated with the noise). Celebrations with fire works and thunderstorms cause fearful animals to get into trouble. Animals jump though windows, run across roads or damage doors and furniture. Owning an animal that has noise phobia can be very distressing to its owner. Unfortunately these phobias can escalate with age and also be taught to other pets that have not previously shown fear.
What is one to do?
Before the event create a safe space for your pet such as a bed or a crate. Encourage your pet to use this space by rewarding it when there. One can try to desensitize them to loud noises by making occasional loud noise when the animal feels safe for example banging pots when it’s eating or crashing tins when you are playing with the ball. Desensitising recordings are available.
As far as possible, plan to be home during known times of noise. Consider disguising the noise with the radio or television. Dog wraps or thunder shirts have been shown to be successful in many animals making use of acupressure points.
Experts warn us to not reinforce any negative behaviour by comforting the animal excessively though. If your pet receives more attention than usual during these times of stress, it may interpret its negative behaviour as an appropriate response.
There are a range of treatments available that do not require a consultation with the vet. Over the counter medications include products such as CalmEze, Resque remedy and calming wipes. It is strongly advised that all these treatments be started well in advance of the expected episode e.g. two days before Guy Fawks. In summer it may be beneficial to keep some patients on continual calming medication as thunderstorms can be hard to predict. Once an animal gets excited, any medication may not help calm it down.
Another over the counter treatment to consider is DAP (Dog Appeasing Pheromone). These pheromones come in sprays and plug ins. A collar such as Nuturecalm is impregnated with pheromones and can be worn permanently during storm season. These collars also help with separation anxiety and inappropriate marking.
If your pet is severely affected by loud noises you may want to consider prescription medication. Bring your pet in to the vet for a full health check to ensure there are no reasons why your pet cannot safely use these sedatives. If your pet has visited us in the last six months and no pre existing relevant health conditions exist you can give us a ring or pop in for meds without your pet.
There are many ways to alleviate noise phobia. Let’s work together to achieve the best outcome for your pet.