Noise Phobias in Dogs

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Does your dog react to noises so intensely that it effects its ability to function normally? Would you believe that up to 50% of dogs may suffer from a noise phobia, but only 13% of owners report that their dog has a fear of noises? Many owners turn to the internet first to research solutions for their dogs behavior issues, but about 75% of owners say they will talk with their veterinarian about problems, but only 16% actually seek their veterinarians advice. Yes this is on the internet, but more importantly, we are here to help you and your pet through any issues you may encounter on your journey together, including behavioral problems and noise phobias.

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The most common noise phobias are ones we might think of already like: fireworks, thunderstorms, vacuum cleaners, and loud voices. Some other common noise phobias may be ones we wouldn’t even think of though, like: engines, slamming doors, party poppers, and bird repellents. Noise phobias are not uncommon in dogs and can be seen as early as 9 weeks old. A key factor that plays into the phobia having a series of loud sounds that occur in bouts followed by pauses. The sensitivities seem to always worsen overtime if intervention strategies are not used. The signs seen associated with noise phobias are hiding/withdrawing, trembling, panting, cowering, hyper-salivation, inappropriate urination and/or defecation, vomiting, excessive vocalization, self-trauma, fleeing, hyper-vigilance, seeking human attention, destructiveness, or abject panic.

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All of the signs mentioned are obviously not enjoyable, for the pet or owner. Luckily, we have treatment options that can help. Each pet is different in how they react to their noise phobia, how each phobia episode is different from another, our ability to control a stimulus, and in which way we want to treat the situation/patient. Pheromones can play a helpful part in calming a dog, without actually medicating them. They can come in spray, diffuser, and collar forms to help give off the calming pheromones, similar to that of a mother to her puppies. Having a “safe spot” or den is a good idea to help give a sense of security when they think things are getting scary. If these don’t seem to help, drugs may be needed to help keep the fear under control, some can be used short term, while others can be used long term. You and your veterinarian can discuss what the best options are for you and your pet.

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If you ever have any additional questions or concerns, always feel free to call and talk to your veterinarian. We can schedule a consultation to help come up with the best plan to assist you and your pet in having less anxiety and more peaceful times together. Letting the phobias continue will only cause more stress and strain on everyone, let us help stop it or decrease it to improve and possibly strengthen the bond between you and your pet.

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