Does your animal suffer from
the Scaaaary Sounds of Summer?!?!
Six Simple Steps to Soothe the Pet Suffering from
Did you know more pets go missing on July 4th than any other day?
Fireworks and thunderstorms can be scarier than Godzilla to your poor pet. Even those who don’t show it may be scared and the bad news is that (like Godzilla’s relentless advance) this can be a progressive disease, increasing with ongoing incidents if uninterrupted. Noise phobias are far more serious stuff than many realize. It’s inconvenient to downright painful to watch a pet tremble and shake—sometimes uncontrollably and inconsolably when a thunderstorm or the fireworks of the 4th start. Still, many don’t realize just how deeply these fears can affect an animal on an ongoing basis.
A few problems that such fears can cause, from the simplest to most severe:
Hiding, not sociable
Lack of appetite
Fear related aggression
Going outside the litter box
Damaging furniture, walls, doors!
And the biggest concern:
Running away in fear—sometimes through screen doors or windows or even plate glass exits, and/or
Development of an ongoing fear response that can send a pet into “fight, flight or freeze” on a frequent basis, harming the body overall.
Who gets affected?
It’s hard to say who gets noise phobias or how and when they get them. They happen in both cats and dogs, although it seems dogs can do themselves the most damage, famously charging through closed doors or windows in fear, or running away into more trouble.
My dog Samson is a Hurricane Katrina survivor. It’s not hard to guess why a look of terror crosses his cute face every time there is a thunderstorm. And its even worse during fireworks.
Still, others were pampered pets from the time they were young … and yet they are filled with fear when those scary sounds start.
Why do such sounds affect some animals so seriously?
Animals are far more sensitive to both sound and vibration than we humans, some even more so than others. When they can’t place the sound or where it’s coming from, it can spark a basic survival fear.
Once the fear hits, it first kicks off the classic response—fight or flight—to run, to hide or to freeze in fear.
If you can intervene effectively soon after that you can help soothe their systems. Once, however, this response has been running for a while, they then release hormones in the blood stream that will run in the body for many more hours, causing stress and throwing off their systems entirely.
Once that happens, they can then be off for hours or even days (e.g., when there are regular thunderstorms, of the fireworks of the 4th go off in your neighborhood for days). If this is ongoing, they can become fearful and stressed animals without you even realizing the extent.
What can we do to help?
Fortunately, there are simple yet effective steps you can take to help your pet heal this problem. Here are six, from free and least expensive to more serious interventions:
Do an environmental fix when you know a storm of fireworks are coming: First and foremost, keep a pet inside! Close doors/windows if you can, and pull curtains/blinds if possible to keep out flashes of light and to keep them in and from trying to get through doors or windows in fear.
Then turn on comforting light and music or the television (though not something with a lot of violent sounds!) to cover the noise. White noise such as a fan or air purifier can also help. And let them hide in a safe place! Their crate, under the dining table or bed—all offer comfort.
Do soothing stuff! Pets may resist when they are really scared, but nonetheless talking to, petting and snuggling a scared animal is crucial. And treats, oh yes, treats (pant pant gulp), always help, especially at a clap of thunder or firework. This does not make them wimps, but effectively slows the fear response! My dog had so much fear that for a long time he would not respond to my attempts to comfort at all. Relentlessly I kept it up. I would go to him under the table to give him treats, brush him and (of course, being me) do energy work. Today, he comes to me as soon as he’s scared. Now I can often nip the fear response in the bud, just by reassuring talking, petting and holding him.
In addition, here’s a really simple, free tip: use a very soft brush to slowly make long brush strokes from the top of their head to their tail. This pulls their energy back from the fight or flight response (which pushes all energy to the head, neck and shoulders) and into the opposite system, called resting/digesting in which most of their energy is in the lower body. Hint—this is soothing for both of you! Lessening your own tension will help your pet, getting your energy and pace on the same page with your pet is enormously helpful.
Adding some pet aromatherapy, such as a relaxing lavender scent, can also be enormously helpful—please ask Helen what she would suggest. Remember, pets have a much more heightened sense of smell and scent can go a long way to ease anxiety. Add to the above by using Comfort Zone, a wonderful pet pheromone spray (available with other products from our friends at Natural Pet Market), on their bed or the brush or the couch (if they’re allowed up!). The scent, which we can’t smell, makes animals feel safe. We have versions for both cats and dogs.
Consider specifically designed music to soothe your pet during stress. For example, visit www.throughadogsear.com No, your pet doesn’t have to wear headphones! The woman who designed this site is a classical musician who did clinical research on her own dog’s extreme response to thunder. She came up with music at a tempo and with imbedded beats that can significantly, surprisingly calm even the most savage (or scared) beast (okay, pet). She has CDs specific to fireworks and thunder, and she also has a version for cats.
Make use of some wonderful supplements. Rescue Remedy is always helpful for both people and pets in stressful situations, soothing the nervous system in a completely safe and natural way with homeopathic ingredients from flowers. Stronger remedies, such as K-9 and Kitty Calmer (also at the Pet Market) for those pets with extreme fear; it can actually help them sleep. This is NOT a medication with side effects; it is a safe herbal remedy that lessens stress over repeated use. Or consider purchase of a Thundershirt, a pet vest specifically designed to hold and calm the body even under great stress.
Visit Natural Pet Market in Rice Lake Square to help you decide what may be best for your pet, and/or see Susan for a healing session—her work can go a long way to soothe the nervous system of the most anxious animal.
Susan will be offering acupressure and energy work sessions at the discounted rate of just $1/minute!
See her for 15, 30 or 60 minute sessions to help the anxious animal chill, and also get a consult on the most appropriate products for your pet.
Email Susan at: firstname.lastname@example.org or call
Whatever you do, we hope you find solutions to help you and your pet enjoy our day of freedom without fear and occasional thunderstorms without terror! Come talk to us today to seek the solutions that will most support your pet.