Summer is in swing and with the warmer weather comes summer thunderstorms. While humans can often enjoy a warm summer night on a porch enjoying a storm, many dogs are not fans of the loud noises that come with it. This article discusses more about thunderstorm safety and noise aversion in dogs.
What’s Noise Aversion in Dogs?
Noise aversion in dogs is when the dog finds a sudden and loud noise alarming. Examples include fireworks, construction sounds, and thunderstorms. Triggers can also include subtle daily sounds, including doorbells, squeaky shoes, or vacuum cleaners. Dogs with noise anxiety experience significant stress and cannot rebound quickly. In addition, untreated noise aversion in dogs can significantly impact their quality of life.
Unfortunately, dogs diagnosed with canine noise aversion typically respond to more than one sound type. Additionally, repeated trigger exposures and delayed diagnosis can lead to generalized anxiety or separation anxiety disorder.
Signs of Stress
Noise aversion in dogs can manifest in several ways. The typical physical signs include:
- Dilated pupils
- Cowering or crouching
- Increased heart and respiratory rate
- Excessive panting
Behavior signs can differ significantly based on the dog’s fear response and may include:
- Destructive behavior
- Excessive vocalizing
- Attention-seeking or clingy behavior
Before you start treating your dog’s thunder phobia, it’s vital that all dogs with noise sensitivity complete a veterinary check-up to rule out other underlying conditions. Once noise aversion has been diagnosed, you can work with one of our veterinarians to alleviate your dog’s fear. There is no cure for noise aversion, but the anxiety associated with it can be managed.
Make sure you anticipate the upcoming storm so you can keep your dog as far away from the sounds of the storm as possible. Do this by creating a safe environment, such as setting up their bed or crate in a quiet room so they have somewhere safe to which they may escape. If possible, stay home with them during the storm.
Also, distract your dog by planning calming and exciting activities. For instance, you can turn on the TV or sound machine or give them their favorite puzzle or chew toy to keep their mind occupied. Remember to reward your dog when they seem calm and encourage playfulness. Doing this can provide positive associations with storms and help give your pet something to look forward to when a storm comes.
This method works by slowly introducing your dog to the sounds of storms in a safe and contained manner. Experts recommend playing audio of storm sounds for about 10 minutes daily, gradually increasing the intensity. Again, positive reinforcement is key during these trial periods. Make sure to give your dog lots of treats and praise to help them associate the noises with something pleasant.
Thundershirts and other similar products mimic the sensation babies feel when swaddled. The pressure helps reduce stress by calming the system that triggers the “fight or flight” response. Studies have shown that calming vests and wraps such as Thundershirts have no negative side effects, so it’s safe to be left on your dog all day and minimize noise-related phobias.
For many thunder phobia cases, anti-depression or anti-anxiety medications may be helpful. For long-term medications like SSRIs, it is recommended you begin treatment at least a month before the rainstorm season and your pet be kept on that medication year-round. For other cases, a fast-acting medication like a sedative may be given to your dog about an hour before a storm begins.
HERE AT MOUNT CARMEL ANIMAL HOSPITAL, WE’LL TREAT YOUR PETS LIKE FAMILY!
Mount Carmel Animal Hospital has been serving the Northern Baltimore/Southern York community for over 30 years and is proud to be an independently operated, small animal practice committed to excellence in veterinary medicine and client service. From grooming to wellness services, along with Canine Life Skills Training Courses, and surgical procedures, we have the expertise that will best serve the needs of you and your pet. Contact us at 410-343-0200 and follow us on Facebook!