Reducing the Volume & Fear of Loud Noises
It is no news that thunderstorms, fireworks and other loud noises are often scary for both cats and dogs. In addition to being unpredictable, they many times bring unexpected flashes of light. Many pets react by hiding, pacing, panting, trembling, peeing, pooping, or even destroying things. As soon as a thunderstorm rolls in, our own Mr. Henry goes into hiding, prompting us to give him calming treats, lots of snuggles and a safe place to hide. Across the country, animal control officers report a 30 percent increase in lost pets each year between July 4 and July 6. Sadly, only 14 percent of those pets are reunited with their families. Officers also report more lost pets after large thunderstorms.
Thankfully, we have options for minimizing a pet’s fear, while keeping them safe and improving everyone’s quality of life. These simple actions will make thunderstorms and the coming Fourth of July holiday safer and happier for the whole family.
Microchip your pet
You have an 80% higher chance of being reunited with your best friend if he or she is microchipped. To confirm your pet’s microchip is registered, utilize AAHA’s free Universal Pet Microchip Lookup. If you find that your pet’s chip isn’t in the database, call us and we’ll help you get it registered. In addition, you are always welcome to come in and have us scan your pet for free to check that your pet is indeed microchipped and it is working. We can also place a microchip if we find it missing!
Create a Safe Space
This haven can be a windowless basement, closet or bathroom. For a crate trained pet, try covering the crate with a blanket to muffle sound while keeping the door open so he or she doesn’t feel trapped. You can also find a cozy corner where you can close the blinds, set up a bed and provide an extra blanket with which to snuggle plus a treat-filled toy for distraction purposes. Offering the noise of a radio, television, white noise machine or fan will reduce how much your pet hears of the rain, thunder, fireworks or other loud noises. Classical music can be especially soothing for some dogs.
Provide Positive Reinforcement
Do anything you can to help your dog or cat feel better, including offering treats and lots of extra snuggles. Teaching new, pleasant associations is the best way to reduce fearful behavior. Do not scold or punish for displays of anxiety; the behavior they are exemplifying is about fear, not about disobedience. Treats or food puzzles can be a great distraction that help the pet associate something fun and special with an otherwise scary time. However, be aware of how your pet reacts to your extra attention, and back off if you notice it’s making him or her feel more anxious.
Seek to Improve Quality of Life
Anxiety does not have to be the only way your pet gets through scary moments in life. At Harmony Veterinary Center, we are always willing to help you reduce your pets anxiety and improve their quality of life as naturally as possible, and recommend non-pharmaceutical options before anything else. These include calming treats such as Composure and Solliquin, calming music, Thundershirts, Mutt Muffs and other aids to help keep your furry friend cope. At the right does and purity, CBD works great for calming dogs. However, cats have different receptors in their brain that render CBD’s less effective. If you are considering CBD for your pet, we are happy to walk you through the pros, cons and proper dosing.
Talk with a Trainer
Good trainers are excellent at helping to stop the fear cycle in dogs who have noise sensitivities. Here is a list of local trainers that we recommend.
To get everyone on the same page and find the best solutions, recruit the whole family to assist you. This link on Fireworks and Fear and this one on Thunderstorms will help educate everyone. With a little effort and the right tools, you can customize a plan that is just right for you and your pets. From safe spaces and positive reinforcement to thunder blankets and CBD, there are a myriad of options for helping your pet to cope with scary noises like thunderstorms and fireworks. Mr. Henry agrees.