The time of scarves, shoveling, and hot cocoa are long behind us. Beach days, barbecues, and campfire s'mores are back for their always too short stay - summer is finally here! With summer comes thunderstorms and fireworks, and many of our perfectly behaved pets can turn into trembling nightmares around loud noises. If you have a pet with noise anxiety, summer can be a difficult time for the both of you.
Thunderstorms are a major concern for some pet owners throughout the entire summer. There's a theory that animals can sense the drop in the barometric pressure as well as feel static electricity associated with a thunderstorm hours before we hear the first rumble. Fireworks are also a concern, especially in the weeks leading up to and following the 4th of July.
Signs of anxiety will be different with every pet and they can be mild to severe. Some signs of anxiety may include panting, whining, pacing, hiding, and trembling. Some dogs with extreme fear of thunderstorms have been known to become aggressive, destructive, and even hurt themselves in an attempt to get away from the noise.
There are many steps you can take to make your pet feel safer during thunderstorms or fireworks. It can be a instance of trial and error since every animal is different.
When faced with something scary or intimidating, many animals' first instinct is to hide. They retreat to a closet, bathtub, or somewhere else confining. If this is where your pet feels safe, don't discourage the behavior as long as they're not hurting themselves or being destructive. Give them access to these areas and don't shut any doors that are normally open as this may decrease their escape routes and increase their anxiety. Providing them with a safe space to call their own is another way to lessen their anxiety, such as a crate or kennel covered by blankets.
If it's the loud booms and cracks that scare your pet, drown those sharp noises out by turning on the TV or playing music. These are normal, everyday noises that your pet is probably used to. Air conditioners are another great way to drown out the noises from outside.
A busy mind is usually a distracted mind. Does your pet have a favorite toy? Treat? Trick? Keeping your pet occupied with something positive during thunderstorms and fireworks keeps them distracted from the noise outside. Many dog owners provide their pups with the always tasty peanut butter filled Kongs. This gives the dog something to focus on other than the noise. If your pet is more play motivated than food motivated, playing with their favorite toy can be the perfect distraction.
Nice & Close
Nothing is more calming than a nice, tight hug when I'm nervous or have increased anxiety. The same idea can be applied to pets too. The use of Thundershirts or some sort of body wrap can help make pets feel more secure. Body wraps may not be the solution to every pet, but there are plenty of pet owners who swear by them. Use caution while trying this method as restraint or hugs may not be the right solution for every pet and may make their anxiety worse, especially with a new or unfamiliar animal.
You've tried everything and your pet still tries to turn themselves inside out during thunderstorms. Talking to your veterinarian about other methods of controlling your pet's anxiety is always a good idea. Consult with a trainer/behaviorist to see if there's anything additional you could be doing. There are also medications available to relax, not sedate, your pet. These can come in handy if thunderstorms are in the forecast and you're at work all day.
We hope you find these tips helpful to you and make life with your pets easier this summer!