Forums » Behavior

Fear of Loud Noises - Fireworks and Thunderstorms

  • June 27, 2017 1:23 PM EDT

    Loud noises can commonly lead to anxiety, fear and panic in dogs, and occasionally in cats. 
    For some, this is a "seasonal" problem - for example, when thunderstorms tend to develop, or during fireworks season (especially around the 4th of July holiday).  The fear and panic that ensues can be significant - it can become a real source of suffering for noise sensitive pets and those with noise phobias. 

    Signs of distress associated with a noise phobia can include

    • Vocalization - whining, barking, howling
    • Pacing
    • Panting
    • Shaking
    • Drooling or Vomiting
    • Excessive yawning
    • Hiding

    What can be done?

    Although many pets can be helped by working with a trainer for counter-conditioning and desensitization to the triggers of their fear, this is something that should be worked on 
    outside of firework season. Pet owners should not try to desensitize their pets by taking them to a fireworks display to "help them get used to it." This can make things much worse!

    7 tips to help pets that are fearful or anxious in response to loud noises
    1) Keep the pet indoors during thunderstorms and fireworks - and make sure they can't get out
    2) Prepare a comfortable and cozy "safe haven" for them - a place to hide within the home
    3) Pheromones may be helpful - such as Adaptil collars or diffusers for dogs and Feliway for cats
    4) Supplements - such as Harmonease has been shown to decrease agitation; ProQuiet and melatonin may also be helpful
    5) Pressure wrap - such as the Thundershirt®Storm Defender, or Anxiety Wrap may help reduce anxiety
    5) Food puzzles - toys such as KongBuster Food Cube, or Kibble Nibble
    6) Provide some type of noise canceling - a fan, white noise machine, or soft music
    7) Veterinarians can prescribe anti-anxiety medications to help them get through the times of distress
    Learn More: 
    • 1 posts
    October 3, 2017 12:29 PM EDT

    My cat does has this and this is really very strange sometimes, because i just can't calm him down. Sometimes it requires a lot of time to calm him, especially if this happens during the night, then i just can't go to sleep because he is afraid and yawns a lot, hides everywhere ...

    • 1 posts
    December 15, 2017 1:12 PM EST

    I believe that canine fear of thunderstorms is not only about noise and light.  Perhaps it's electrical. Having fostered many rescue dogs, I've become quite sensitive to recognizing expressions of anxiety.  With my own dog, I realized that she was having anxiety when there were predicted storms but neither thunder nor lightning that I could detect.  Through the internet I found live lightning tracking information.   Over the course of a year, I was able to verify repeatedly that my dog was reliably reporting lightning strikes as they happened off the coast of Santa Cruz from her observation post in the Central Valley of California.  I hear you  - I didn't believe it at first either.  For those of us who consider premedicating for predicted bad events, this is pretty hard to stay on top of this kind of sensitivity.  Denial of the importance of the events didn't work.  So once I confirmed the lightning, we worked on making distant lightning a trigger for happy times.  This seemed to work for her: we handled it almost like clicker training - lightning strick -> treat.  "Good dog, thanks for warning me about the storm.  Yes, I got it, and now you can relax."  I never could have made the associations without the timely strike reports on the internet.