Noise Phobias..... more than just a fright
Does your dog or cat cower and hide, or pant and tremble during storms? What about fireworks, or windy days or appliances in the home?
Most pets don’t like loud noises, but for some of our pets, it is more than just a dislike, it is an extreme and uncontrollable fear that affects their quality of life. This reaction is called a phobia. It is an intense, exaggerated fear response out of proportion to the noise that triggers it. It is distressing to out pets and serves little purpose to help them stay safe. In fact, it can increase their risk of physical and mental harm, especially if they try to escape.
We don’t know why some pets develop and experience noise phobias, although having chronic pain can be a factor for some pets. Sometimes they learn the response from another pet in the house, sometimes they develop the phobia after a traumatic event, but often there is no known cause.
Although we can’t prevent or cure noise phobias, we have many options for managing them to reduce the distress they may cause. A veterinary consult can help determine which approach may be the right one for each individual, as no two pets are the same.
It is important to note that we should never scold or punish our pets for having an intense reaction to a noise or storms. This could make the situation and the fear worse. Don’t force your pet to be exposed to or endure noises you know causes fear or phobia. This will not help and again, may only serve to make things worse.
Contrary to some beliefs, it is okay to comfort a scared pet. It is impossible to reward fear or anxiety with a hug and kind words. Try to keep your voice and body posture calm and relaxed so your pet. If you are also anxious, they will feel that too. They are very good at detecting our own emotions.
Creating a safe space can be comforting for some pets who like to hide. Make this a cozy spot with their familiar bedding or toys. By feeding your pets treats in there when there isn’t anything scary happening, this can help to make it feel like a nice place to be at other times.
For a more targeted and tailored approach for your pet, or to discuss if you think your pet might have a noise phobia, please get in touch.