From excited children to party guests, the holidays can bring increased noise into your home. Unfortunately for dogs who are sensitive to or afraid of noises, the holidays can be a time of anxiety and stress.
Canine noise aversion is a common anxiety and fear-based reaction to noise that affects at least one-third of dogs. The most common triggers of canine noise aversion are fireworks and thunderstorms. However, common, everyday sounds can also cause the same reaction, sounds such as a running vacuum cleaner, a ringing doorbell, honking car horns, and loud voices.
Regardless of the sounds triggering the stress, your dog is reacting because he/she is terrified of the noise. It’s not unlike what a person experiences during an anxiety attack.
We know that no one wants their dogs to suffer from this severe level of fear and anxiety. Therefore, it’s important to understand the signs of noise aversion, your dog’s triggers, and ways to help your dog have a happy holiday season despite the increase of noisy situations.
What are the signs of noise aversion in dogs?
“Dogs can show subtle to extreme signs of noise aversion, with subtleties often getting missed by owners,” says Dr. Willow Hipwood. “Subtle signs can be a vague as lip licking, yawning, or panting.”
“Other dogs may be more obviously frightened and tremble, hide or sometimes pace, cower, and whine or bark.” The worst case scenario according to Dr. Hipwood? “In extreme cases, some dogs may become destructive and/or attempt to escape their surroundings.”
What causes noise aversion?
The exact cause of noise aversion is not well understood. A number of explanations have been suggested, including genetic factors, a traumatic experience associated with noise exposure, or learning from other fearful dogs (The Nature and Consequences of Noise Sensitivity in Dogs).
Fear of noises is a normal response to a real threat. However, when the fearful response is persistent and severe, it’s not normal. If left untreated, noise aversion can progress, increasing the intensity of the reaction, aversion to other types of noises, and/or development of other anxiety disorders.
“One of my own dogs is fearful of fireworks, during which she pants, trembles, cowers, and hides” shares Dr. Hipwood. “This past 4th of July was the first time with fireworks exposure since we adopted her, so this was a new discovery.”
How can you help your dog with noise aversion get through the holidays?
For all that your best friend gives you throughout the year, make this holiday season happy and safe with the following tips:
Create a Quiet Retreat: Put your dog’s bed and toys in a quiet place, such as the bathroom, closet, or basement, giving your pet a safe place to go during the noise event.
Modify Behavior: Train your dog to relearn normal behaviors during the noise event.
Ask Your Vet About Prescription Medications: Noise aversion can be the result of an imbalance of certain chemicals in the brain. Therefore, prescription treatment may help.
Badger Veterinary Hospital now carries Sileo, the first and only FDA-approved treatment for noise aversion. Dr. Spaulding and Operations Manager, Anne, have both used Sileo with their noise phobic dogs and seen great results. Dr. Hipwood is looking forward to trying Sileo with her dog, Olive, next summer!
Ask us about Sileo today so your dog can enjoy the holiday season along with the whole family!