Fear of loud noises, especially thunder and fireworks, is a common phobia in dogs and cats. It’s usually displayed by hiding, whining, barking, growling, hissing, pawing or even urination.
Trying to help your pet cope with loud noises is important because the anxiety usually gets progressively more pronounced with age. An animal suffering from a fear of thunderstorms or fireworks may begin to display anxious behavior before the thunder begins. Rain on the roof of the house, bright flashes of light, other loud noises or even the drop in air pressure before a storm may be enough to trigger anxiety.
- Take your dog for a nice long walk on the day of the fireworks. This will help burn off some of the energy that could otherwise add to your pet’s anxiety. This also allows for a toilet visit as your dog may not want to leave the house later that evening.
- Be prepared. Bring your pets inside (either near you or in a small, secure space) well before the fireworks begin – once they have started it may be too late.
- Make sure your pet has external identification (name and telephone number)
- Provide your pet with a safe place to seek refuge. Safe and ventilated crates, under a bed or under a chair are common hiding places. Your pet chooses these places because they feel protected and the noise of thunder or fireworks is muffled. If your pet has not already picked out a place, provide one. Try leaving a few treats in a safe place to encourage your pet to go there.in case of escape.
- Close your blinds or curtains and leave the lights on so the flash of the fireworks is not as startling.
- Turn on the television or radio so that the fireworks blend with a noise your dog is used to.
- Keep your dog’s favourite toys or treats on hand to provide comfort and distraction during the fireworks display.
- Don’t make a fuss while the fireworks are on. A reassuring pat or a few words are fine - overdoing the attention will only confirm that something abnormal is happening.
- Punishing your pet will just create more fear and anxiety because thunder/fireworks will then be associated with both fear and punishment
- Cuddling or comforting your pet too much isn’t a good idea because it teaches your pet that anxious behavior is appropriate
- Getting Help
If you find that your pet has a severe reaction to these events, you may speak to one of our veterinarians about medication and behavioural advice.
The above has been put together with the help of our friends at Hills Science Diet and Purina