As we head into the warmer months, many dogs will experience problems from noise phobia associated with thunderstorms and/or fireworks. Stress can manifest itself as barking, drooling, heavy panting, trembling, house soiling, and hiding. Some dogs can become so stressed that they will run, and I have even witnessed the aftermath of dogs breaking through doors and windows during panic attacks.
There are many things that you as a pet owner can do to help your dog with their noise phobia.
Thundershirts are a brand of garment that help some dogs calm down by providing compression to the torso. Behavior modification can be tried. You ignore the symptoms of the stress, and only reward the dog when they remain calm. You can try playing audio recordings of storms or fireworks, gradually increasing the volume while continuing to praise calm behavior. If the behavior is still severe, Zylkene is a new anxiety drug that is based on milk proteins that can be used for anxiety in the short or long term. For animals where Zylkene does not seem to help, other anxiety drugs are available, but may take weeks to become effective. Unfortunately, some dogs may need a mild sedative to help keep them safe during periods of loud noises. As always, our veterinarians are here to help and guide you on the best solutions for your pet.
Ann E. Bastian, V.M.D.