Noise and Thunderstorm Anxiety

Thunderstorm and noise anxiety in pets.

                       Noise and Thunderstorm Anxiety

                           Written by Eric E. Brooks, DVM


            With the 4th of July right around the corner, families are gathering for cookouts and pool parties.  Many families will sit back and enjoy a beautiful fireworks display at night.  But for many of our four-legged family members, this serves as one of the most terrifying days of the year.

            Fear of thunderstorms and loud noises (especially fireworks) are some of the most common anxiety disorders diagnosed and treated in veterinary hospitals.  The underlying cause remain unclear, some believe there is a genetic cause, while others believe it is caused by a traumatic event as a young animal.

            Each pet has their own unique way of exhibiting fear and anxiety.  Some of the common signs include: shaking and trembling; whining or barking; hiding under furniture, in the bathtub, or in closets; constantly pacing or simply laying in one spot panting incessantly.  Many pet owners consider this to be normal pet behavior, when it fact this type of anxiety is comparable to a person who has an extreme fear of spiders or tall heights.  Exposure to these loud noises is equally terrifying.

             If your pet exhibits any of these, or similar symptoms, you should contact your veterinarian to discuss treatment options.   There are numerous treatment options including: nutritional supplements, behavioral modification programs and medications for the severe cases.  Your veterinarian will work with you to custom tailor a treatment plan for your pet based on their symptoms and other medical conditions.


Stow Kent Animal Hospital

4559 Kent Rd.

Kent, OH 44240



Portage Animal Clinic

4148 State Route 43

Kent, OH 44240


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Debbie S. July 09, 2012 at 12:30 PM
My 9 year old black lab/shepherd mix only recently developed noise anxiety, we think triggered by some particularly loud thunder. The awesome Dr. Christie at Keystone Veterinary Clinic recommended behavioral modification which included giving him praise and special treats that come out only when it thunders. The change was dramatic and pretty rapid. I won't say he's no longer afraid at all, but he is obviously more comfortable about thunder now after only a few months of following her suggestions. She recommended talking to your vet IMMEDIATELY when you start seeing symptoms, even if you think it's not a big deal, because noise anxiety is more easily treated the sooner it is caught.
Leigh Peterson July 09, 2012 at 01:00 PM
Rescue Remedy works pretty well. Thundershirt helps some dogs and not others. That's interesting Debbie, never thought of that. My current dog is fine in thunder as long as he can be cuddling in a ball on top of us (all 60 pounds of him). I had a past dog that needed to be hiding alone during thunder; there was no comforting him.
James Murphy July 09, 2012 at 04:36 PM
your dog probably deserved it
Debbie S. July 09, 2012 at 08:55 PM
The Thundershirt info was shared by my vet as well, Leigh. But I hated to spend money on something that might not have worked. I was glad the behavior modification mitigated it.


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