Dog Or Cat Afraid Of Loud Noises

Holiday gatherings, construction, storms, fireworks, parties and all kinds of things that we humans do can be noisy and just plain frightening to our pets. If you’ve seen your cat or dog hiding, shaking, digging to get away, or you come home to accidents, or even destroyed things in the house; it could be due to something loud occurring in or around your home and your pet having a behavioral expression of a medical condition called noise aversion. Noise aversion is where pets experience extremely high levels of fear and anxiety, similar to a human panic attack, when they hear a particular noise or loud noises in general. Noise aversion, when left untreated, can decrease a pet’s quality of life, increase the likelihood of them developing more anxieties, and put stress on the bond between the pet and its family. Luckily, there are ways to learn if your pet has noise aversion, and there are several therapies and treatments available for this condition that can make your pet more comfortable if they do.

To learn if your pet has noise aversion and how to help make that experience easier for them, contact your veterinarian first to rule out other medical conditions or even ear pain that could be worsening their sensitivity to sound. If your veterinarian does diagnose your pet with noise aversion, they will be able to provide medication, supplements and environmental modifications to help ease the anxiety and fear related to noise aversion. To prepare to talk with your veterinarian, we highly recommend this fun and helpful Zoetis Noise Aversion Quiz. This is a professional and interactive online resource that will help you know what signs your pet is showing that may indicate that they have noise aversion. Pets will also show physical signs, such as the following, that can help you know if they are sensitive to loud noises.

  • Trembling or shaking
  • Ears back
  • Clinging to owners
  • Panting
  • Pacing or restless
  • Hiding
  • Whining, whimpering or barking
  • Cowering
  • Hypervigilant
  • Trying to escape
  • Destroying items
  • Lip licking or yawning

If your pet is displaying one or more of these symptoms while a loud noise is present, be sure to ask your veterinarian for help!

There are a variety of different medical ways your veterinarian might recommend to treat your pet’s noise aversion. At home, you can help by creating a safe haven that is quiet and calm (just like a den or cave would be in the wild). This is critical when trying to help your pet through a fearful time. This safe haven may be a quieter place like a basement if fireworks cause stress to your dog, or a different room that your cat can get away from the noise if they get anxiety from a vacuum cleaner or parties. Pet owners can also use distractions to help the pet forget about the noise. These distractions can include classical music or meditation reading apps on or even just playing with them like you would in a normal situation (this can show that you don’t mind the noise). Your veterinarian might also encourage behavior modification techniques, like systematic desensitization and counterconditioning. These techniques are best used when guided by a professional so as to be careful not to make the dog’s fear worse. Anti-anxiety clothing, such as Thundercoats are also often recommended by veterinary professionals. These coats wrap tightly around an animal, like they’re in a giant bear hug to make them feel safe, and although the name implies that they should be used during thunderstorms these coats are great for any type of noise aversion.

It is also important not to make them feel anxious by reacting in an anxious manner yourself- calm petting and words is the best way to help. But the most important thing to remember when interacting and caring for a pet with noise aversion is don’t punish them for having noise aversion. Don’t punish a pet that’s destroying something or who has an accident when there is a loud noise causing them to be afraid. They aren’t misbehaving on purpose and this reaction isn’t something they can control, but you can help them manage it.

Your veterinarian will be able to prescribe medication or a combination of medications to reduce a pet’s anxiety when they hear loud noises. A highly effective, and commonly used medication for dogs is Sileo, the first FDA approved noise aversion treatment. It is a gel that is absorbed in the dog’s gums, where Dexmedetomidine (the active ingredient) calms a dog by preventing or reducing the anxious reactions in the nervous system. This medication is given as needed, meaning you don’t have to give the medication to your dog every day in order for it to be effective, and it calms dogs without making them drowsy.  For cats, your veterinarian may prescribe an oral anxiety relieving medication such as gabapentin that comes in capsule, tablet, treat and liquid forms.  These are just two medications but there are many and the medication that is prescribed will be recommended based on your pet’s individual health, diagnoses and the symptoms that they are showing.

As with any behavioral concerns, remember that your veterinarian is here to help – emotional health is just as important as physical health. Talk to a veterinarian as soon as possible and together make a plan to help your pet get treatment for their noise aversion, making loud situations easier for your pet and you!

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The Healing Paws Veterinary Care promise is a thorough and kind experience. Taking the time to listen to you (and your pet) while being thorough in our examination, pain assessment and diagnostic testing means that we can find answers and solutions that keep your friend living longer and more comfortably.