Like people, pets can experience fear and anxiety.  One of pets’ most common anxiety triggers is sound. Pets often experience noise aversion, which causes them to have extreme fear or anxiety. A pet’s noise-averse reaction is similar to a person’s panic attack, and an affected pet becomes severely distressed. To help you learn to identify whether your furry pal is suffering and ensure they get relief, our Emerald Animal Hospital team shares the information you need to know about noise aversion. 

Noise aversion causes in pets

Some breeds may be genetically predisposed to noise aversion. However, other contributing factors may include:

  • Lack of socialization — In your pet’s first few months of life, you must socialize them so they become a well-adjusted, well-mannered adult. When you expose your pet to many unfamiliar situations, they learn to adapt and remain calm in new circumstances. Pets who are not properly socialized often develop a noise aversion.
  • Pain levels — Noise-averse pets commonly have muscular or joint pain, and when they startle at a loud noise, the tensing can strain their painful muscles and joints, leading them to think the noise caused the pain.
  • Negative experiences — A pet who has a bad experience when a particular noise occurs can make a negative association.
  • Learned behavior — When one pet experiences noise aversion, other household pets can learn to fear the same sound.

Common triggers for noise-averse pets 

The sounds that trigger noise-averse pets vary depending on their individual experiences and sensitivities. However, some of pets’ most common noise triggers include: 

  • Thunderstorms, especially if they produce loud thunderclaps, lightning strikes, and heavy rain
  • Fireworks 
  • Construction sounds 
  • Crowds  
  • Cars and traffic noises
  • Doorbells
  • Vacuum cleaners 
  • Smoke detectors 

Noise aversion signs in pets

Pets’ noise aversion signs vary depending on an individual animal’s personality and a noise’s intensity. However, some common noise aversion signs include:

  • Hiding — When a frightening sound triggers them, many pets may try to hide under a bed, in a closet, or in other small spaces where they feel safe. 
  • Physical anxiety — An anxious pet may pant, pace, drool, or tremble when they hear a loud noise, also becoming restless or exhibiting other anxiety signs.
  • Vocalization — A noise-averse pet may whine, bark, or howl loudly when they hear a loud, startling noise.
  • Destructive behavior — In an attempt to escape a triggering noise, an affected pet may chew or scratch furniture, doors, or walls.  
  • Inappropriate elimination — When frightened by a loud noise, a pet may urinate or defecate in the house or in their crate. 
  • Comfort-seeking behaviors — Your pet may seek your comfort and reassurance when they are frightened, sitting on your lap, hiding behind your legs, or forcing you to stroke or hold them. 
  • Personality changes — Some pets may become irritable or reactive when a loud noise frightens them. They may direct this behavior toward other pets or people. 
  • Appetite loss — A pet may refuse to eat or drink when they are anxious or frightened.
  • Body language changes — A frightened pet may lower their ears, tuck their tail, or crouch. 

Managing your pet’s noise aversion signs 

Monitor your pet’s behavior during loud noises, particularly during events such as fireworks or thunderstorms. If your pet exhibits noise aversion signs, help them feel safe and secure by following these tips:

  • Create a safe space — Provide your pet with a quiet, comfortable place to which they can retreat during noisy events. A spare bedroom, blanket-draped crate, and closet are good options to consider. To help your pet feel secure, place comfortable bedding, treats, and toys in this sanctuary area.
  • Distract your pet — Providing your pet with toys, treats, and attention helps distract them from the triggering sounds. 
  • Apply a compression wrap — A compression wrap applies pressure to calming points on your pet’s body, providing anxiety relief.
  • Medication — Some noise-averse pets may need medications to help manage their anxiety, and these drugs work best when administered before the upsetting event. Our veterinary professionals will determine the appropriate anti-anxiety medication and dose that are best for your pet.

Noise aversion is stressful for your pet and you. However, you can teach your furry pal to cope with their noise aversion and feel more comfortable during unsettling events. If you suspect your pet has a noise aversion, contact our Emerald Animal Hospital team, and we will address their fear and provide them with relief.