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Tales from the Pet Clinic

with Ann Hohenhaus, DVM, DACVIM

This blog has been retired. We appreciate all of the insights that Dr. Hohenhaus shared with our readers.


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Friday, July 1, 2011

Summer Noise Phobias


Lovely weather, summer holidays and a relaxed atmosphere make summer everyone’s favorite season –  everyone except for dogs with noise phobias.  Fireworks and thunderstorms create unexpected loud noises, frightening to many dogs and cats as well.  The veterinarians at the Animal Medical Center anticipate seeing dogs and cats injured and lost over the Fourth of July weekend as a result of their noise phobias.

Signs of noise phobia:

  • Destructive behavior
    • Scratching/digging at door or wall
    • Chewing
    • Loss of housebreaking
  • Anxious behavior
    • Clinging to owner
    • Drooling
    • Hiding, especially cats
    • Panting
    • Expressing anal glands
    • Dilated pupils
  • Abnormal behavior
    • Skipping meals
    • Jumping out of windows/running out of doors
    • Shaking
    • Loss of training, i.e., not responding to commands

Home Remedies

Consider trying home remedies for noise phobia.  One of my patients with thunderstorm phobia calms down if her owner wipes her fur down with a dryer sheet.  Dryer sheets may decrease the buildup of static electricity caused by the impending thunderstorm.   I suggest the unscented ones, since dogs don’t like smelling like an ocean breeze.  Anxious dogs may feel calmer during storms or fireworks if you apply a dab of lavender oil to their ear tips.  The lavender oil fragrance has calming properties and is available at health food stores and on the internet.

Noise Phobia Products

  • Along the lines of the antistatic dryer sheet is the Storm Defender Cape which has a special lining to diffuse static electricity.
  • The Thundershirt is a snug fitting dog T-shirt which some of my dog owners have used for anxiety related to car rides, veterinarian visits, as well as thunderstorms.
  • An interesting product I found is dog ear muffs, but I don’t have personal experience with them.

For additional tips on managing fireworks phobia in dogs read Fireworks and Your Dog.

If you need professional help managing noise phobias in your pet, a behavioral consult with a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists can help set your dog or cat on the road to recovery.

Photo: Hemera Technologies / © Getty Images

Posted by: Ann Hohenhaus, DVM at 10:53 am

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