Pet Noise Phobia
Pets Can Develop a Fear of Noise
For most domesticated pets, a loud noise is enough to make the largest or bravest of animals take cover under the bed, in a closet or in your lap. Unfortunately for some pet owners, their pet’s fears can tend to get worse over time, turning into a phobia that can cause you — and your pet — anxiety.
Understanding Pet Noise Phobia
What is pet noise phobia? It is an extreme fear of a sound where a pet will do anything to avoid a certain noise, such as acting aggressively, injuring themselves or damaging property to escape the sound.
Common noise phobias include thunderstorms, firecrackers and/or gunshots. Often times, pet noise phobias tend to worsen over time when pets become fearful of similar sounds or events associated with a particular noise. For example, a dog that is afraid of thunder may also become afraid of rain or the sound of a slamming door; a dog afraid of firecrackers may also develop a similar fear when he hears a car backfire or a sonic boom.
It is relatively unknown why pets become frightened of certain noises. However, animals tend to display natural behaviors, such as hiding, when they detect a noise that appears to be threatening.
Overall, animals tend to be more sensitive to their environment than humans. Although pet noise phobia is had by dogs and cats alike, the phobia is more of a common problem in dogs.
Common pet noise phobias include thunderstorms, firecrackers and/or gunshots.
Symptoms of Pet Noise Phobia
There are a number of factors that determine a pet’s reaction to certain noises, such as their age, socialization and experience. Depending on the type of animal you have and the severity of their fear, signs of pet noise phobia may include:
- Trembling or shaking
- Seeking out the owner
- Urinating or defecating
- Barking or howling
Pet owners should be aware that any change in their pet’s behavior should be followed up with a visit to the veterinarian to rule out any potential medical condition.
For some pet owners, it may be natural to nurture their pets by physically comforting them when they become scared. Unfortunately, this can reinforce the alarm and fear the animal is experiencing by giving the animal the positive reward of affection.
Treating Pet Noise Phobia
There are a number of things pet owners can do to help diminish their pet’s reaction to noises. For example, help reduce the noise level in your home by running a fan, playing the radio, or closing the windows and the doors to help block out any bothersome noise.
Pet owners can also create a safe haven where their pet can retreat to when he feels threatened. Some animals find refuge in small spaces, such as a closet or their crate. Consider putting their favorite blanket and toys in these areas to create a sense of familiarity and security.
Another tool pet owners can use to help lessen the effects of pet noise phobia is behavior modification. For example, if your pet loves to go for car rides and is terrified of thunderstorms, you might consider taking Max for car rides only during thunderstorms so that he can begin to replace his negative experiences with positive ones.
Another alternative is to seek alternate therapies, such as medication, to help your pet cope with his phobia. Only your veterinarian can prescribe the right medication for your pet, so be sure to schedule a visit or consultation with your vet should the aforementioned options not be a success with your four-legged friend.