For a pet affected by loud sounds, this is a dangerous, terrifying and uncomfortable time–both for the pet and their people. Your dog cannot control their reaction to loud sounds, but you can help them learn to tolerate and/or adjust to them.
You, as the pet parent, must learn to recognize the indications of these fears and also learn some pointers to reduce this stress. As always, talk to your veterinarian if this is a problem for your animal. Behavior adjustment alone works well for some pets, others may require medications in addition to habit adjustment to be safe and not hurt themselves trying to “get away” from the noise. Commonly seen indications of noise phobias include:
Attempting to hide or enter/ out of the house, fence, or other enclosure
Refusing to consume food
Some animals may loose bladder or bowel control or experience short-lived diarrhea from prolonged tension
Please note: The indications discussed above are basic signs and might be indicative of numerous various illness or conditions. Please consult with your vet if these signs persist after fireworks or thunder has subsided, or if you think that your family pet might have been poisoned or is otherwise ill.
Attempting to get away from the loud noises can result in broken windows, torn fences, chewed doors or canine cages and lead to lacerations, foot pad injuries, teeth and mouth injuries or much worse as they attempt to escape from the disturbingly loud noises.
It doesn’t matter if the fears are “reasonable” or not. It also should be noted that scolding a frightened animal is not efficient will only heighten the worries.
Leave your dog at home. It may be appealing to bring along your pet(s) so everybody can delight in the entertainment; however, the loud sounds aren’t typically fun for pets. Plus, there are many other hazards – fire, food (dietary indiscretion), getting lost in the confusion, etc., that makes staying at home in a comfy safe environment an excellent option.
Keep animals inside, if possible. It is advisable to close the curtains and turn on the TV or radio to supply some diversion. Calming or classical music are better than some television or radio noise options. Therapeutic music such as “Through A Dog’s Ear” or The Dog Channel frequently work better at keeping your pet calm and providing an audio diversion.
Provide a safe “escape” place. Many times family pets will look for out a little den-like place (such as a crate) if they are fearful or stressed out. If you do not currently have a one, a bed or similar place that your animal can call his “own,” it is recommended to develop that safe location and familiarize your animal with it prior to needed, as a way of minimizing tension during fireworks and thunderstorms. One of my dogs loves to go hide in my closet!
Use a leash or carrier. If you must be outdoors with your pet, keep the family pet on a leash or in the carrier at all times.
Practice fire safety. Keep pet far from matches, lighter fuel, open fires and fireworks – specifically ones that are lighted on the ground. Family pets might try to smell (or consume) fireworks and pet hair can easily catch fire if too near to the fireworks.
Take family pet for a walk beforehand, if possible, and make certain that you pet has time to “utilize the bathroom” prior to the fireworks begin. Some family pets are too frightened to void when the fireworks begin, and this may result in an “mishap” later.
Make sure family pet ID is present. A microchip is the best way to keep track of your dog, but you must keep your address and phone number up to date with the microchip supplier. Be sure that your family pet has tags with the current information in case s/he gets away. This will assist the regional authorities (who are very busy this time of year dealing with scared runaways).
What Else Can I Do if My Pet Is Frightened of Fireworks and Thunder?
Animals that are frightened and worried may harm themselves and perhaps even run away if left alone, and the outcomes can be deadly. Scared animals running loose are in danger of being struck by a vehicle or other unwanted occurrence.
In addition to these ideas, here are some ways to help reduce your animal’s worry of loud sounds. Work on this when your pet is calm and you are feeling patient.
To help your pet become accustomed to thunder and other loud sounds, you can attempt some desensitizing habits modification. Additionally, if you are anxious, your pet might pick up on that.
Instead, offer interruptions – offer a command, play a game or perform task-oriented interruptions. Rewards or praise can be offered for these activities and given right away after the job is finished so that the pet makes the connection. Gradually increase the volume slowly and gradually as your animal is able to deal with the sounds without getting stressed.
To reiterate: scolding a frightened animal is ineffective and will only intensify the worries. If your pet is not progressing, have perseverance, lower the volume and keep the sessions short and positive. Seek advice from with your veterinarian and/or a veterinary behaviorist for extra assistance.
Many stores or online channels bring “relaxation” kinds of music. There are rain/thunderstorm CDs and videos/audios being offered. It is necessary to keep in mind that this strategy requires time and patience for it to be effective. Start slow and do short sessions just at initially.
Another good option is the “Thundershirt” sold by many stores, and again online. This “shirt” is soft and cozy and is wrapped snugly around your dog’s middle. It feels like a constant “hug” and helps reduce anxiety in some dogs.
If Your Pet Still Needs Help
Some animals require more aid for thunderstorms and other loud noise fears. If your animal remains at risk of hurting himself or running away (and possibly becoming lost or hurt), please speak to your vet about prescribing medication appropriate for your pup. The newer anxiolytic drugs, such as Alprazolam (Xanax), are much more efficient at stopping the phobic habits and are chosen over drugs such as Acepromazine.
A patient-doctor relationship is required before giving medications, so if your family pet hasn’t seen the veterinarian yet, a visit will be required to take a look at the animal to ensure that there aren’t any underlying heart or other issues, and also base their medication dosage on present weight. Please do not use human medications or medications prescribed for other animals as drugs are specific for each patient’s needs, general health, and weight.