Most of us welcome the sounds of summer—fireworks booming, barbecue grills sizzling, boat motors humming, children whooping and laughing—but an anxious or fearful pet may not feel the same. They may react extremely irrationally, and if their anxiety is left untreated, the condition may lead to behavioral and psychological issues. Your pet can experience any of the many anxiety conditions, and the more you know about the causes, signs, and treatment, the better you can support your fearful furry friend. Read our Columbia Pike Animal Hospital team’s answers to your questions about your pet’s anxiety, fear, and noise aversion. 

What anxiety types commonly affect pets?

Your pet can become nervous or anxious for many reasons, which may be obvious at times, but at other times, the reason may remain a mystery. One or more of these common anxiety types may be why your your pet is fearful:

  • Noise aversion — Noise aversion is one of the most common pet anxiety types. The sounds of fireworks, thunderstorms, televisions, and gatherings can trigger a noise-averse pet to experience an extremely fearful reaction that may continue long after the stimulus has subsided. Most pets are startled by unexpected loud noises, especially when they hear the sounds for the first time. If you suspect your pet is noise-averse, monitor their overall anxiety, noting the time their reaction lasts. 
  • Separation anxiety — Your pet may experience anxiety triggered by physical separation from the people to whom they are most attached. If your pet suffers from separation anxiety, they may become upset as you prepare to leave the house, when you depart, and during your absence. Some pets become distraught when you are in another room or house area. 
  • Unknown animals or people — Some pets are extremely fearful of new people and animals, and every pet reacts differently. Some fearful pets cower, hide, or display submissiveness by rolling over on their belly. Other pets may become aggressive, and raise their hackles, growl, or snap.  
  • New situations — Pets are creatures of habit, and an environment change (e.g., moving to a new home, going to the veterinarian or boarding facility, visiting a new space) can upset them. Many pets feel fearful in new situations, but an anxious pet is more likely to experience an extreme, prolonged reaction. 

Why do some pets develop anxiety?

Several factors may contribute to a pet’s anxiety. Your pet may become fearful, anxious, or noise averse because of one or all of the following causes: 

  • Genetics — Some pets may be genetically predisposed to anxiety. The hunting dog breeds may have a higher tolerance for unexpected noises, while the herding dog breeds are generally more skittish and fearful. Despite your pet’s genetic predisposition to anxiety, you can train them to neutralize their fears.
  • Age — As pets age, their anxieties may become more pronounced. Your senior pet may experience increased noise sensitivity, especially to thunder, and increased anxiety when walking on slippery or uneven surfaces. 
  • Environmental factors — Socialize your pet at an early age to help them manage their anxiety and fear. Keep in mind that neglected or abused pets are more likely to develop anxiety. 

What are the signs of pets’ anxiety and noise aversion?

Each pet’s behavior is different. Your pet’s fear or anxiety signs may include:

  • Trembling or shaking
  • Panting excessively
  • Increased heart rate
  • Yawning or drooling
  • Whining
  • Pacing or hiding
  • Digging or escaping
  • Urinating inappropriately 
  • Behaving destructively 

If your pet displays any of these signs, let one of our Columbia Pike Animal Hospital veterinarians examine your pet to rule out underlying medical conditions and establish your pet’s anxiety treatment plan.

How can I support my anxious pet?

You can support your anxious pet in many ways, and the first step is to have one of our veterinarians examine your pet to rule out underlying medical conditions, as many anxiety signs can indicate illness. We can also recommend resources and treatments to help calm your pet, and with time and patience, slowly modify their adverse anxiety reactions. 

Fear, anxiety, and noise aversion can negatively affect your pet’s quality of life. If you suspect your pet suffers from one of these conditions, schedule an appointment with our Columbia Pike Animal Hospital team. We are dedicated to helping your pet live their best life by effectively treating their anxious behaviors.