Treating anxiety and stress caused by loud noises
Loud noises such as traffic, trains, loud music, thunderstorms and fireworks can make an animal very anxious. The life of an anxious animal is far from fun. Whether the anxiety is temporary or permanent, there are ways and tools to help make an animal less anxious or stop it from getting more anxious. In this article, you can read all about calming treatments. These treatments can help for anxiety and stress caused by loud noises.
Animals can feel seriously threatened by loud noises and strange scents experienced as normal by humans. This anxious behaviour can manifest itself in various ways: hiding under the sofa, jumping onto a shelf or wardrobe, climbing in the curtains, trying to jump out of the window, being afraid to go outside or running away in a panic once they are outside. The panic can be huge and is definitely not attention seeking. If your pet is looking for support, try to reassure it.
We prefer to ensure that our pets stop being afraid. This can be achieved with medication, but ultimately your pet will be happiest if you can get it to unlearn its anxiety. This can be done through behavioural training. Reducing anxiety through behavioural training is not easy and it takes time. That is why it is important to start in good time and to build up the training gradually. If your pet has a fear of fireworks, you should start a number of months before Bonfire Night and New Year's Eve.
To get an animal used to the noises that it is afraid of, you can start with behavioural training using a fireworks CD for dogs. You should play this CD very quietly to start with (so that you do not frighten the animal), while the animal is playing or having a treat. As the training progresses you can increase the volume, always keeping it below the level at which your animal becomes anxious!
Take your time
It will take a number of weeks or even months before the animal can cope with the sounds on the CD at the highest possible volume without becoming anxious. During behavioural training, the animal cannot be exposed to loud bangs. This means that you should never train during periods in which there is a risk of real fireworks.
Support from your veterinarian and behavioural therapist
Sometimes it is useful to get help from a behavioural therapist specialising in dogs or cats. They can explain to you exactly what you should pay attention to and how you can gradually increase the training. What's more, it is useful to first have your extremely anxious pet checked by your veterinarian before you start noise training. It is possible that bodily issues make your pet even more sensitive to noise. In cases of severe anxiety, a behavioural therapist can consult with your veterinarian to use medication alongside behavioural training.
For a short term solution, there is medication that makes the animal drowsy and less sensitive to noise stimulation, such as Diazepam and Alprazolam. These are exclusively available on prescription from a veterinarian. However, these products are not a solution for the longer term and are therefore not suitable for animals that are anxious about traffic noise or loud music.
Food supplements and mainstream medication
For these animals, using supportive food supplements or mainstream medication can be a welcome addition to behavioural therapy. Products with L-tryptophan (an amino acid that is also present in food) and B-vitamins can calm the dog or cat down. There are also products on the market like Royal Canin Calm Diet with L-theanine, a substance that is present in green tea and has a soothing effect. If you give your animal these products, you should also discuss it with your veterinarian first. These products cannot be combined with all forms of medication! Products with pheromones, like Feliway Diffuser or Feliway Spray for cats and Adaptil Diffuser, the Adaptil Collar or Adaptil Spray for dogs have been used successfully in treating stressed and anxious animals for some time.