Thursday, June 27, 2019

Fireworks, Thunderstorms, and Your Pet

Does your dog tremble and cling to you during thunderstorms? Does your cat vanish to their favorite hiding place during fireworks? Your pet is probably suffering from noise aversion. The condition is more common in dogs, and impacts roughly one-third of dogs in the US. Noise aversion is similar to our panic attacks, causing fear and anxiety that could affect your pet’s quality of life. 

Symptoms of Noise Aversion
Noise aversion can come in many forms, with either a mixture of some of the symptoms below or simply one.

- Restlessness (usually seen as pacing; can’t sit still)
- Lip licking
- Trembling or shaking
- Panting, without it being warm
- Hypervigilance
- Cowering or hiding
- Ears back or furrowed brow
- Freezing
- Abnormal clinginess to owners
- Refusal to eat
- Yawning
- Barking at the sounds or whining

Treating Noise Aversion
To reduce or even eliminate noise aversion in dogs or cats, it’s important to identify their triggers first, so you can better prepare for an onset of conditions. Some of the treatments involve:

- Environmental management – before a thunderstorm rolls around or fireworks begin, place your pet in an area of your home that is the most sound proof. This could include your basement, a bathroom, a closet (be sure to remove any chewable items like shoes, first!) or a bedroom.

- Behavior modification – essentially, this involves exposing your pet to sounds that terrify them in a controlled environment (with lots of treats!) so they can get used to the sound and begin to associate positive things with it (like treats—did we mention that?). This option requires guidance from a veterinary professional to ensure the desensitization happens gradually so as not to overly stress out your pet.

- Medications – in some cases, it’s best to use medication to keep your pet calm during thunderstorms, fireworks, or any other noisy event. Sileo is one option that has proven highly effective in dogs.

Talk to Your Veterinarian About Your Pet’s Fears
If noise aversion is severely impacting your pet’s quality of life and your relationship with them, talk to your veterinarian! He or she will be able to help you determine the best plan of action for reducing or even eliminating your pet’s noise aversion. Contact us at (412) 882-3070 to make an appointment!