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Dealing With Noise Phobias During the Holiday

Holiday celebrations are one of the great elements of the holiday season. Whether it’s a family get together, an office party and a group of friends, holiday parties are a great time to relax and eat frosted cookies and swill warm delicious drinks. However, if you have a pet that is sensitive to noise, the relaxing and joyous holiday parties you look forward to each winter are something they dread. If your pet detests when you fire up the vacuum or the exploding sounds of fireworks during the Fourth of July, then holiday parties will trigger the same response — and your pet probably has a noise phobia.

What is Noise Phobia

A noise phobia is a condition that some animals have where they’re become uncomfortable or fearful of loud noises. Common noises that cause pets to display the symptoms of noise phobia are rain, thunder, lighting, fireworks, loud music, motorcycles, guns, vacuum cleaners, and loud talking. Noise phobia is not a widely understood condition amongst pet owners. Some pet owners don’t appreciate the stress their animal experiences when suffering from noise phobia. Animal instincts lead animals to avoid showing vulnerability. So when you’re pet is clearly displaying their fear and vulnerability to certain noises, it’s something to take seriously.

Both cats and dogs can have noise phobia, though it’s more likely to be found in dogs than cats.

The symptoms of noise phobia a can vary quite a bit. Upon hearing a loud noise some animals will run to safe place, such as under a bed, their kennel, or into a familiar room, or will meow or bark. An animal who’s experiencing a more serious episode of noise phobia will be panicking, pacing, panting, trembling,or hypersalivation. In some cases both cats will over groom themselves rendering bald sores on themselves. Some fearful dogs cling to their owners, seeking comfort, while others try and escape the home by running towards the door and whining to go out. Some cases of noise phobia will result in the animal becoming angry, which will cause them to cause damage to household items. Usually an animal will develop their noise phobia at an early age, but there are cases where older animals will develop it later in life.

Holiday Noise Triggers

Whether you’re planning to host a holiday party or are traveling to one with your pet, you’ll want to consider your pet’s noise phobia when you make your plans. To best do that, you’ll first want to understand the potential triggers that your animal may encounter at the holiday event.

  1. Loud Talking: This is a common trigger for pets that are not accustomed to hearing groups of people talking. If you dog or cat isn’t use to many human voices, traveling to stay with a house full of family for a week or attending a loud and raucous house party may make them uncomfortable.
  2. Music: What’s a party without some music? Many holiday parties will be blasting Chuck Berry’s* Run Run Rudolph *or the Beach Boys *I’ll be Home For Christmas *as the festivities commence, much to the displeasure of your pet with noise phobia.
  3. Traveling: If you’re traveling for your holiday plans with your pet, that could introduce a variety of noises triggers. If you’re traveling by car your pet may react the many noises that comes with it. The engine and tires humming as you drive, passing traffic, and potential weather you encounter could all be a trigger. If you’re flying, the sound of the plane could affect your pet.

How to Cope With Noise Phobias

You don’t want to have your pets noise phobia derail your holiday plans. At the same time, you don’t want to leave your pup or kitten alone at home for long periods of time while you enjoy your holiday vacation or parties. In order to get the best of both worlds, try deploying some of these coping exercises that could make your pet more comfortable with all the holiday noise.

  1. Background Noise: This is a trick that can really come in handy if you’re at/hosting a party or if you anticipate a loud thunderstorm coming on. Put your pet in a room with some food, water, and some toys. If you’re hosting, pick a room that your pet is familiar with. Then, turn on some calming music or a television. The steady background noise may may act as white noise and keep your pet calm and distracted during the loud periods. Make sure you check on them occasionally to see if the background noise is working.
  2. Keep Them Active: If the background noise doesn’t work and your pet is still upset and afraid, try playing with them. If you have a dog, play fetch with them for a while to keep their mind off of the noise. If you’re in a playful mood your pet will pick up on your playful energy, which in itself could calm them down. Got a noise-averse cat? Bust out the catnip or their favorite toy on a string. Getting your cat’s mind off of the noise will some playful activities will not only calm her down, but will also will tire her out. Getting some sleep is always good for a cat.
  3. Calming Collars: It’s pretty difficult to play fetch with your pet while on a holiday flight or while operating a vehicle. If you anticipate that the noise of traveling upset your pet, one option is to explore calming colors. There are collars engineered to keep your pet calm by releasing scents and pheromones that soothe your pet. To select the perfect collar for your cat or dog, consult your veterinarian.

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