If you dread the upcoming fireworks season because your pet becomes so fearful, you are not alone. The loud sounds of explosions in the sky can make any pet quiver with fear, but for noise-averse pets, July Fourth can be downright miserable. Unfortunately, pets with true noise aversion don’t suffer only one night each year— every day noises (e.g., a backfiring car, thunder) have the potential to trigger extreme fear and anxiety. Our Liberty Veterinary Hospital team takes a look at noise aversion in pets to help your fearful pet stay calm and comfortable not only during the July Fourth fireworks, but all year long. 

What causes a pet’s noise aversion?

Noise aversion is a reaction to loud, unpredictable, unexpected noises. Some pets may be genetically predisposed to noise anxiety, while others develop the condition later in life after a single traumatic experience or repeated exposure to frightening stimuli. Your young pet should be exposed to as many new sights and sounds as possible, so they become comfortable in many different situations, and are less likely to develop noise aversion as they age. 

What are noise aversion signs in pets?

Your pet can’t tell you they are afraid, but their behavior offers clear anxiety signs. Some reaction to a loud noise, such a sudden loud clap of thunder, is normal, but a noise-averse pet’s reaction will be intense, and their recovery time will be longer. For example, a pet with extreme noise aversion may hide in the closet, and tremble for hours. Some behavioral signs exhibited by noise-averse pets include:

  • Whining or barking
  • Trembling and shaking
  • Excessive panting
  • Hiding
  • Lip licking
  • Yawning
  • Pulled back ears
  • Uncontrollable urination

In addition, your pet may display more destructive behaviors, such as digging, chewing, or attempting to escape. If you suspect your pet is extremely noise-averse, share this information with your veterinarian, so they can diagnose and treat your pet’s condition. Treatment generally involves a multimodal plan that includes environmental management, behavior modification, and medication. 

How can I support my noise-averse pet on July Fourth?

  • Schedule a veterinary visit — Talk with our veterinarian before the big night to determine if a short-term sedative is the right treatment to calm your pet during the fireworks.
  • Keep your pet home — Your home is the safest place for any pet during a fireworks display. 
  • Provide a safe space — Create a safe haven for your pet in an interior room of your home, and turn on calming music or the television to drown out the fireworks noise. The following calming tools can also help a noise-averse pet:
    • ThunderShirt — This adjustable pet shirt applies constant, gentle pressure to your pet’s body, and may help manage their fearfulness and anxiety.
    • Pheromone diffuser — A calming pheromone can help relieve your pet’s stress.
    • Interactive toys — Provide your pet with plenty of engaging, interactive toys, such as a puzzle feeder or stuffed Kong, to keep them distracted from outside noises. 
  • Exercise your pet — Long before the fireworks start, take your pet for a long walk or jog to tire them out and help them feel relaxed. Ensure your pet gets plenty of opportunities to eliminate while exercising, to avoid an accident later inside—many pets are too frightened to go outside during the fireworks. 
  • Ensure your pet can be identified — Many fearful pets become lost on July Fourth when they try to escape the loud noises. Be prepared—ensure your pet’s collar is secure and their identification tags display your current contact information. If your pet is not microchipped, schedule an appointment for this quick and simple process that provides the only permanent identification for your pet. Your veterinarian will inject a tiny chip under your pet’s skin near their neck. The microchip contains a number that refers to your contact information—which also must be kept up-to-date—stored in a database. Should your pet become lost, they may lose their collar, but the chip can be scanned for your information, you can be contacted, and you and your pet will be reunited. 

July Fourth can be scary for any pet, especially those with noise aversion, and our team at Liberty Veterinary Hospital is here to help you prepare your pet for the fireworks. Schedule an appointment to discuss short-term sedatives or to have your pet microchipped.