Basin Run Animal Hospital Blog #2- Noise Phobia

Basin Run Animal Hospital Blog #2- Noise Phobia
June 16, 2021

Hello Everyone! Welcome back to our blog series, featuring our next topic: Noise Phobia. This condition is a major concern for pet parents during the summer months. Several factors contribute to summertime being especially stimulating to a pet suffering from noise phobia. ‘Tis the season of fireworks and thunderstorms, but those triggered by those stimuli can also be fearful of gunshots, home alarms, dishwashers, or even plastic garbage bags! Noise phobia often becomes more severe over time, especially if left untreated. It is important as an owner to be able to recognize the signs of discomfort in your pet and be able to respond effectively in easing their anxiety.

First and foremost, let’s talk about the signs that your beloved companion may be overstimulated by noise. Common signs of sound related anxiety can include hiding, shaking, drooling, urinating or defecating inappropriately, vocalizing, and pacing. More extreme symptoms can even lead to escape behavior and self-harm. Pets that already suffer from separation anxiety also have a higher tendency towards noise phobia. Cats and dogs stimulated by unpleasant noises may also try to seek comfort from their owner(s) during an episode. While providing a soothing presence is helpful, it is critical to not add to the anxiety by mirroring the discomfort of your animal. By panicking or being over-excited when your pet is reacting to stimuli, you may potentially increase their symptoms by confirming their fears that something actually IS wrong! On the opposite end of the spectrum, by shouting or disciplining your pet when they start to exhibit signs, the fear will only deepen.

Now that we have shed a little bit of light on what noise phobia can look like, let’s get down to treatment! Every pet is a unique individual and may respond better to one treatment over the other. As outlined in our previous blog entry on Fear Free techniques, a number of nutraceutical and pharmaceutical products can help reduce anxiety. Outside of medicating your companion, you may change the environment in your home leading up to a potentially triggering event. You may assemble a sound-proof, or sound-resistant den for your pet to occupy during storms or firework displays by using sound buffering blankets or panels. Putting the den in an interior room or an area where the windows may be blocked of visual pre-indicators of disturbing sounds is ideal. Animals with noise phobia will associate visual cues such as lightning, wind blowing in the trees, or dark clouds with the source of their fear and may start to become anxious prior to any sound generation.

Additional environmental changes can be made around the den for pet. Using calming music such as low piano music has been shown to significantly reduce the stress in both dogs and cats in kenneled environments where stressful decibel levels and frequencies of sound are present. We have provided links to a few helpful sites that have soothing music which meets the therapeutic levels recommended to reduce anxiety. Several wearable items are also on the market to help counteract external stimuli in pets. You have likely heard of the product Thunder shirt, which simulates the feeling of being embraced in the form of a snug vest measured to your pet’s torso. Also made by that manufacturer is the Thunder cap which works as a partial blinder to block out distressing visual cues. As an auditory barrier, items like a Happy Hoodie or Mutt Muffs help to muffle the sounds causing the anxiety response. For our feline friends, it is more likely helpful to stick with a prepared den instead of trying a wearable aid. Links to these items are also listed at the end of this article.

Please let us know if you have any questions about options to ease your pet’s anxiety during this high-stress season. As always, we care here at Basin Run!

Helpful Product Links:

Soothing Music Links:

Building a Sound-proof Den: