Animals have many fears but one of the most common is the fear of loud noises such as thunder and fireworks. Pets can have an array of reactions to loud noises including shaking, hiding, whining, and destruction of furniture and bolting. These unfortunate reactions can cause both pet and owner stress, but don’t worry, there are remedies! A common reaction to these fears by owners is to try and make their dog feel better by reassuring them that they are safe. This reassuring cause’s dogs to make the connection that this fearful behavior gets them attention. Instead of reassuring your dog the best thing to do is to act normally.
A good starting point is to give access to a spot in the house that the animal feels safe. Whether it is your bedroom or basement make sure your pet can access to it to hide and feel safe. You can also try distracting your dog with something that they enjoy, treats, toys, or games to help them not focus on the noises. Kongs and other treat toys work great because the dog has to work and chew for the treat. This may only work for awhile while the storm is still distant so keep an eye on your pet.
Desensitization is another option to help your pet through the scary noises but has to be done carefully to not make your pets fear worse. By playing a CD of the noises that your pet is afraid of at a very low volume can help get them accustomed. Over a few weeks you can gradually turn the volume up bit by bit with hopes that it does not bother your pet. However if you start to notice their behavior change you need to turn it back down and progress a little slower. Desensitization may not be for every pet but it is a viable option.
If you are looking for a low maintenance solutions there are products such as Thunder Shirts. Thunder Shirts are snug fitting jacket, shirt, or sweater that provides a constant calming pressure. The pressure is believed to help in the release of endorphins that help calm the pet. Pressure vests for humans are similar to the Thunder shirt; the vests are used commonly with people with autism to help keep them calm, comfortable, and focused. The Thunder shirt can also be related to swaddling a baby; it provides a feeling of security.
If none of these options seem to be helping there are anti anxiety medications available through your vet. Your vet can help you find a something for your pet to help make the experience of loud noises manageable. Anti-anxiety medications are a last resort, however if none of the above options have been a success with your pet it is worth discussing with your Veterinarian.