Does your pet become anxious and stressed during thunderstorms? Do fireworks or other loud noises send him over the edge? Here are some tips to address the situation of pet anxiety and have your pet feel better in no time!
Sometimes it is difficult to know the exact cause of your pet’s anxiety, and sometimes it is very obvious. When it begins to thunder loudly, and your pet begins to cry, shake, or run to a different location within the house, you can pretty much make an educated guess that they are scared of the loud rumble. When holidays come around, celebrations that yield loud noises such as fireworks can be debilitating to your pet. Whether your pet is anxious only because he is scared of the sounds, if he has very sensitive hearing that gives him pain during times of loudness, or if he is reacting to a change in the pressure on the barometer from the thunderstorm, his anxiety should be taken seriously. Just like people that have anxiety, it is a real condition that should not be ignored. Here are some ways you can help your pet have relief from this condition.
Give Him a Safe Haven
If your pet is introduced to a safe haven, especially from a very young age, he will always know where to go in times of enjoyment and in times of stress. A “safe haven” can be a kennel with the door left open so he can come and go as he pleases or a corner in the room with lots of blankets and pillows. You may also have a special room that may not be used by the family as much, such as a small den or spare bedroom for your pet to retreat to in times of stress, or even just to get away for a bit. If the loudness tends to be unbearable, you can make his safe haven in the downstairs section of the house (if you have one) as this may muffle the sounds a bit. As long as a “safe haven” is comfortable and easily accessible, your pet will find comfort in knowing that this place is there for him.
Desensitize with Behavior Modification
If you notice that your companion consistently gets anxious and fearful during thunderstorms, on the Fourth of July, New Years’, or any other “louder than normal” holiday, it may be time to prepare for the next time loudness occurs. Sure, you can’t necessarily predict when the next thunderstorm with clapping thunder will be, but you can begin the preparations so your pet doesn’t suffer so much.
This is called desensitization, and not only does it work in people, but animals as well. When an individual has a fear or phobia of something, he can go to therapy or self-treat with gradually, over time, exposing himself to the object or sound that is causing the anxiety. With pets, you can play the sound of a thunderstorm, fireworks, sirens, or anything that makes your pet nervous, and over time increase the volume. This therapy may work wonders for your pet and you as well…because when our pet is scared and anxious, so are you!
Spend Time with Him
During times of stress and anxiety caused by storms or loud noises, spend time with your loved one and his favorite toys or treats. Yes, thunderstorms and fireworks can be so very loud and hard to ignore, but if you sit with him and play, talk to him, allow him to enjoy treats or his favorite toy; it may make it a little easier. Many pets love attention from their owners, regardless of what is happening in their world around them, and you may see that the distraction will help. Coupled with your distraction method, you may choose to add another noise drown out the negative sounds, such as music, the television, a fan, or a “white noise” machine. This can be turned on before the noise hits, like if you know a storm is coming soon or before any loud festivities on a holiday.
Another thing you can do when spending time with him is to make it a “calm time” by massaging him. Pet massage can help immensely, and you can even give your pet a pet message each day to keep him relaxed and happy. Pet massage has been proven to have a positive impact on a pet’s well-being, and regular massage can keep his body in balance. There are also canine massage therapists that can give your pet a massage for you!
Wrap Him Up!
Pressure has been used to treat anxiety in people for years, and it can be an ideal solution for your anxious pet. A weighted vest or blanket applies pressure to the pet’s torso has the same effects as if you were to swaddle a newborn. The pressure helps keep the pet calm and less scared. Also, acupressure can release the calming hormones within a pet. Acupressure can be self-taught, or a specialist can teach you where the proper points are on your companion. With a gentle firmness, holding your fingers on the specific point on the pet’s body for about one minute, and then breathing in and out deeply with the pet will produce a sensation of calmness. Finish off with a few calming strokes with your flat hand and you may see a difference in your pet’s behavior.
Consult a Professional
If after trying these tips, your pet is still having anxiety from the thunderstorms or other loud noises, don’t fret. Your veterinarian will more than likely have other options for you that may work. There are options such as more stringent behavior modification therapy, oral medications for anxiety and stress, and other options for your pet. After consulting with your veterinarian, you fill more at ease over your pet’s anxiety treatment, and you will see the light at the end of the tunnel!
No matter which you choose, in time, your companion will able to deal with loud noise. It may take some time and repeated efforts of some of these suggestions above, and it may take more than one of the ideas at a time. Once you try them all, you will know what is best for your pet…and you. When your loving pet is happy, you are happy as well!