How Can I Help My Pet Cope With Loud Noises?

Dog hiding from loud noises.

It’s that time of year again when the air is filled with exploding fireworks and roman candles. An onslaught of firecrackers, sounding off at midnight can terrify your pet. For some pets, it is just another night, but for others, they may be alarmed to the point of shaking, crying, or hiding. It can be difficult to comfort your pet throughout the night, but the veterinary team at Ten West Bird and Animal Hospital has come up with a list of tips to help you and your pet cope with the loud noises this year:

  1. Create a Safe Space

You may notice that when your pet feels nervous, they may retreat to a specific area of the house. It is likely a place in the house away from the chaos. Their natural instinct can be to flee when stressful situations arise. To mitigate the loudness of the holiday, you can create a safe space in the same place they retreat to or in an insulated area of the house. You can set up a crate with blankets and some of your pet’s favorite toys to further muffle sounds and create a comfortable place for them to hide. Or you can set up a comfortable bed in a closet. Part of the safe space is the overall tone inside the house; it is equally important to maintain a calm environment. This means you need to keep your cool. Your pet will feed off of your energy, and if you feel anxious and worried about your pet, they will feel that too. 

  1. Modify the Overall Home Environment

Along with creating a specific place for your pet to hide, it can be helpful to modify the overall home environment. Close blinds or curtains and windows to insulate the house as much as possible from outside noise and turn on the television or radio for some background noise. If your pet enjoys a particular show on Animal Planet, put that on to distract them. Bring out your pet’s favorite toys and treats for distraction as well. You may also choose to purchase specific plug-ins which release calming pheromones into the air. Studies have shown these plug-ins can be helpful in reducing pet anxiety, but they should be plugged in days or a week prior to the big fireworks show in order to take effect.

  1. Be a Pal

Of course you and your pet are best friends, but during times of stress, they may need you to be present just a bit more. During the 4th of July, many people start setting off fireworks and firecrackers days before and after the big celebration. It would be beneficial for you to plan to be home more often than not during this time so your pet feels safer. Spending extra time and attention will go a long way with helping them to remain calm when loud noises are interrupting their day and night. During the big fireworks show, do not leave your pet alone. You can try to engage in interactive play with them; try tug of war with a rope toy, or throwing a fake mouse for your feline friend. If your pet misbehaves during this time, try not to punish them as this may only increase their distress. 

  1. Desensitization Training

If you can, you can work on desensitizing your pet to loud noises through training and behavior modification. This works best when your pet is young, however it is not impossible in older pets. Gradually introducing startling noises at lower volumes and rewarding your pet when they remain calm is a great way to start. You can slowly increase the volume and frequency of the noises over time, and continue to reward your pet for remaining calm. 

If your pet continues to display signs of distress after the loud holiday is over, please contact us to make an appointment.