Noise fears

Some of our pets display fear and anxiety responses to loud, unusual noises such as fireworks or gunshots and this can be stressful for us too. Identifying the triggers, recognizing the signs and looking for the best solution for your pet are the goals of this article.

We all have the welfare of our pets at heart and want to make sure that they live the best life possible. 

Some of the common behavioural pet responses to loud, unusual noises: 

  • Panting/Drooling/Vomiting
  • Hiding/Pacing/Cowering (lowered body posture)
  • Shaking/Trembling
  • Barking
  • Escape attempts
  • Chewing/Digging
  • Seeking familiar people

Some techniques we can use to manage the fear:

Environmental elements

  • Identify a “safe place” that your pet likes to go to. This space should always be accessible, particularly if you are absent. This safe place can be anywhere, a cupboard or a covered crate, garage or even a carboard box etc, this place would ideally have no windows but artificial light to  help to mask the flashes of fireworks or lightning. A dark room with many furnishings can also help to absorb sound.
  • Playing classical music or TV noise will help to mask the noises that scare your pet
  • Pheromone collars/Diffusers such as Feliway or Adaptil. The spray for instance can be spayed inside the den or on a bandana/scarf and put around the dogs neck.

Physical elements

  • “Thunder shirts” or anxiety wraps (Tellington Touch). Some pets benefit from wearing a close fitting, clothing item (even a tight fitting T-shirt can work) during the scary event. These should be tested before the event to determine if they cause the pet to “freeze”. If this is the case, it will not be appropriate to use this option as it will not reduce anxiety.
  • Ear plugs can also be trialled.

Behaviour modification elements

  • Using counter-conditioning ie associating the scary noise with something enjoyable ie playing or interaction with the guardian, helps with less severe cases.
  • Systematic desensitisation: Desensitisation over time. There are plenty of online resources that can be downloaded. A great product to download are the Sounds Scary sounds which is available HERE. Initially, you play the sounds at a very low level, where it does not bother the pet and this sound level is gradually increased. It is important that this product is used correctly by following the instructions carefully. This is a longer-term process.
  • The guardian can provide neutral support to the anxious pet, please don’t make too much fuss – the pet needs to see that that guardian is calm during the fear inducing event.
  • Any form of punishment is inappropriate. Punishment increases the fear.

Medication Elements

  • Nutraceuticals may be helpful for mild anxiety
    Calmex (L-tryptophan)
  • Pheromone collars/Diffusers such as Feliway or Adaptil. The spray for instance can be spayed inside the den or on a bandana/scarf and put around the dogs neck.
  • Medication for extreme phobias can be helpful. It is best to avoid medications like ACP (Acepromazine) as with this medication your pet will still be aware of the stimuli creating the fear but they cannot take any action, as they are immobilised. This medication can be used as a one off for flight risk pets but will lead to the pet being more fearful if used repeatedly.
  • There are several prescription medications available at Otaki Vets, contact us to discuss your options 

Some important things to remember:

  • Make sure your pet’s microchip or collar identification details are up to date, in case they go missing during one of these scary events
  • Identify noise sensitivity early, don’t wait for it to get better
  • It is never too late to start working on improving

Chat to Otaki vets if you would like help with your noise sensitive pet.