Your Pet’s Fear Of Thunderstorms And Fireworks–How To Help
Ah, the sounds of summer are in the air with 4th of July fireworks and thunderstorms! These loud noises can make some pets anxious and stressed–not understanding that they are actually safe. If your four-legged friend suffers from this type of fear, keep reading. Our tips can help your pet feel less stressed from his or her firework and thunderstorm anxiety.
Noise phobias are more common in dogs, but cats can also demonstrate signs of fear or anxiety related to noise. To help your pet this summer – and prepare for the Fourth of July – follow our guide to managing your pet’s fear of thunderstorms and fireworks.
A Word On Noise Phobia
While it can be helpful to know the why of your pet’s fearful reaction (past negative experience), the important thing to keep in mind is that the fear is real to your pet and he or she needs your help and compassion to deal with it when it strikes.
Animals pick up on our cues. If you find yourself fretting about noise or storms, or about how your pet will react, you will likely increase your pet’s stress level. Remain calm, confident, and stick to usual patterns and routines before and during big storms or loud events. Comfort your pet, but avoid being overly affectionate or reassuring which can also serve to positively reinforce the unwanted fear behavior and make it worse.
Some of the ways your pet can manifest their noise phobia include:
- Hiding or being clingy
- Trembling or shaking
- Panting or drooling
- Sudden incontinence
- Looking for an escape route (is your beloved pet microchipped and properly tagged?)
- Dilated pupils
- Lack of appetite
- Increased vocalization
What You Can Do to Minimize Your Pet’s Fear Of Thunderstorms and Fireworks
It can be both frustrating and heartbreaking as you watch your pet shiver and hide because of their fear. Review this list to find new ways to support your pet and hopefully help you both relax a bit:
- Remain calm and act normally before and during the noisy event.
- Stay with your four-legged friend during these times if possible as they feel safer with their pack (you or your family).
- Increase your pet’s playtime or exercise before fireworks or storm to tire out your pet. It may make him less sensitive to fear-inducing noise.
- If you aren’t able to be home on the Fourth of July, consider hiring someone to be there with your pet.
- Keep your pet indoors during the storm or pyrotechnics, ideally creating a sanctuary in a room with no windows.
- If there are windows, close them and run the air conditioning or fan instead.
- Turn on the TV, radio, white noise or run simply noise on your phone or tablet.
- Distract your pet by focusing on a movie together with the volume turned up, practicing tricks or doing an activity that your pet finds enjoyable.
- If your pet has a space that he or she finds comforting (behind the toilet, beneath the bed) during fireworks or a storm, allow your pet to stay in his or her safe space.
- Have you crate trained your pet? If so, allow him to retreat to the crate and cover it with a blanket (it feels more secure).
- Consider Dog Appeasing Pheromone or Feliway to add to your pet’s feelings of safety and security.
- Purchase a Thundershirt to calm your pet’s fear of thunderstorms and fireworks. Thundershirt offers a money-back guarantee if it doesn’t work for your pet.
- Provide plenty of fresh water; an anxious pet can become dehydrated quickly.
- Let us know if you need a referral to a reputable Austin pet boarding facility.
It can be heart wrenching to watch your pet panic when dealing with loud noises, and ZippiVet veterinarians are here to help. Our focus is on wellness but we understand that some pets may need a mild sedative to handle 4th of July fireworks or a summer thunderstorm. Our veterinarians can also refer you to a local trainer or behaviorist who may be able to reduce your pet’s fear over time through conditioning. Helping your pet deal with their fear of thunderstorms and fireworks can be managed with a few tips plus your understanding, support, and patience.