Spring and summer in the Midwest can be a rough time for pets scared of loud noises. Not only do we have the 4th of July, a day (sometimes week) that centers around fireworks, but we also have regular thunderstorms.
Even though it's a normal instinct for animals to fear loud noises, many pets experience excessive anxiety, particularly when it comes to fireworks and thunderstorms. Pets show anxiety in many different ways, the more significant include panting, pacing, whining, howling, trembling, digging, drooling, or even destroying things.
The most important thing you can do to help a pet cope with anxiety is to ignore them. Most people who have a pet showing signs of anxiety will try to calm them by petting and speaking reassuringly to them in a quiet, calm voice. While intentions are good, unfortunately this is the worst thing for an anxious pet. The reality is that the pet has no idea what is being said. Instead, they only know that by behaving the way they are (fearful and anxious), they receive all sorts of wonderful attention and praise. This only serves to reenforce the behavior and often will make the reactions more intense. Some pets will start to react to lightning instead of just the thunder, to light rain showers, or even to barametric pressure changes.
What you should do: Limit your pet's exposure to the noise. Let her have access to the area she feels most safe. This is often in a room without windows like the bathroom, a closet, or under a bed. Close curtains to prevent visibility of the conditions outside and have some background noise, like music or the television to dull the sounds of thunder or fireworks. And most importantly, do not give your pet any attention, this includes eye contact, touch, or talking to her. She can follow you or lay near you, just don't give her any attention unless she's calm.
If the things mentioned above alone don't help, talk to your veterinarian about other options available including pheromones, thundershirts, medications, and instructions on ways to teach your pet to relax.
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