Noise Phobias - by Lexy Marcellus, (RVT) Print
Written by Brian Adam   
Saturday, 09 March 2013 10:51

NOISE PHOBIAS are very common in dogs.They often experience fear in response to loud noises and/or percussive sounds such as thunderstorms, firecrackers and gunshots.  Common in herding breeds and hounds, dogs with inadequate socialization, or those that have lived through a traumatic event; are living with other phobic dogs, or have separation anxiety issues are prone to Noise Phobias.

SIGNS INCLUDE:  Increased activity/agitation & restlessness, in response to noises. They may pee, vocalize or jump against windows or doors.  Others chew, dig, tremble, salivate, pant, eliminate inappropriately, have increased heart rates, and constantly seek to be close to their owners. In some, the fear reaction is dramatic and can lead to destructive activities to their surroundings or themselves.

Is there any way to diagnose these issues?

Yes.  Diagnosis is based on the presence of clinical signs & exclusion of other behavioral causes.  Your Vet's diagnosis will be based on a physical exam, medical history & lab tests to rule out other medical problems such as urinary, gastrointestinal, hormonal, metabolic or seizure disorders.

Most phobias are easy to diagnose.  However, if only the dog hears the sound or if the sound is not recognized by the owner, it may appear as if they're having a spontaneous panic attack. With thunderstorm phobias, it's common for them to act fearful, before people are aware of an approaching storm.

For noise phobias, treatment includes:

  • Ignoring the fear behavior; Avoiding both punishment and reassurance during that time
  • Establishing a safe, dark place where sounds are muffled
  • Providing pleasant/calm experiences there (most dogs gravitate towards the bathroom)
  • Playing music with similar tones to mask the sounds, can be effective
  • Consider behavioral modification  techniques such as  desensitization and counter-conditioning
  • Anti-anxiety medications may be beneficial, but no drugs are specifically approved for this condition
  • Non-pharmaceutical anti-anxiety products: DAP, Anxiety Wrap, Storm Defenders, Thunderband, Zylkene, Mutt Muffs

As not all dogs are the same, more than one therapy may be recommended. Similar to separation anxiety, it’s a good idea to keep a log of the events, so that that you & your veterinary team can ensure everyone stays happy & healthy. 

Remember: When it comes to the animals we love, we're always here to help! heart Lexy

Last Updated on Saturday, 09 March 2013 11:39