Category Archives: thunderstorm anxiety

Do Pets Like Listening to Music?

By Linda Cole

Music is an important part of our lives. We listen to a wide variety of tunes both in the home and away. I know Mozart or Brahms works great for a pet that is afraid of thunderstorms, but what about all those other times when we have the radio or stereo blaring with our favorite music? Does it upset our pets or do they like listening to the music we play?

My mom had a dog who loved singing along with certain commercials on TV. He even had a favorite one. Every time he heard it, he would race into the living room and sit in front of the TV so he could sing to his heart’s content. He was also afraid of thunderstorms, and the 4th of July was no picnic for him. Mom decided to tape his favorite commercial along with a variety of others he liked and started playing them during thunderstorms to help relax him. We discovered he had a particular musician that he seemed to like and those songs were added to his special tape. Thunderstorms and fireworks still made him uncomfortable, but listening to his favorite music made both bearable.

Pets do seem to like listening to music, as long as it’s non-threatening to them. If we keep the volume down, most pets enjoy listening to a soft mellow tune. Some even enjoy songs with a lively beat. Music can be a great therapy option for pets who are fearful. Classical music works the best as long as it’s calm with no sudden crescendos or loud, rapid beating of drums in the background. Heavy metal gets a paws down from pets, because this type of music hurts their ears and is upsetting to them. Most pets will leave a room if the music is too loud and irritating to their ears.

Animal shelters are discovering how well pets like listening to music and have started playing soft tunes in their kennels to help dogs and cats relax. The music helps pets by reducing their anxiety and puts them in a more relaxed state of mind. Fearful dogs or cats are more likely to allow shelter workers to pet them when music is playing in the background. Veterinarians are learning that music can have a positive effect on pets after surgery while they are recuperating.

If you have a dog or cat who has separation anxiety, is fearful or afraid of thunderstorms or spends their day barking at everything they see from their perch in front of a window, try leaving a radio on and tuned to a classical station while you are away. The volume doesn’t need to be turned up so the music can be heard everywhere in the house. That way, if the pet doesn’t feel like listening to music, they can go to another room to get away from it. Many pet stores carry recordings made specifically for pets with tunes that are relaxing and pleasing to any dog or cat who likes to listen to music.

Music has a way of calming us down after a stressful day at work or a day shopping at the mall. It works much the same way on our pets. They can be just as stressed out by all the commotion going on in our lives as we are. Because they hear at a higher frequency than we do, all the noise we hear is amplified in the ears of our pets. Households may have one or more TVs on, with kids playing video games that have sounds of things crashing, things being blown up and sirens blaring. Let’s face it – most video games are not quiet. Pets can go from one room to another only to find loud noises that can upset them more than we realize.

Not all pets like listening to music, though. Some seem to ignore it completely while others swish their tail back and forth as if they are searching for the beat. Some pets do have a preference when it comes to certain musicians or types of music. I listen to a wide variety of music and prefer something that is soft and mellow. My pets do seem to have their favorites as long as I don’t have the volume cranked up so the neighbors can hear it, which also makes my neighbors happy. You can’t go wrong with good music, relaxed dogs and happy neighbors.

Read more articles by Linda Cole

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The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

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Handling Thunderstorm Anxiety in Pets

By Linda Cole

A thunderstorm is a natural weather condition that produces cracks of thunder which can shake a house to the core. A fearful pet will scamper under the bed before the thunder has finished echoing across the sky. Thunderstorm anxiety in pets is real, and can be a traumatic experience. Although thunderstorms occur most often in spring and summer, they can happen in fall and winter, too. A rare weather phenomenon called thundersnow can occur in late winter or early spring, producing loud claps of thunder and usually heavy snow. So pets with a fear of storms can be affected by thunderstorm activity all year long.

While many dogs and cats are carefree animals that never give a passing storm the time of day, others become anxious before a thunderstorm darkens the skies. Dogs seem to experience thunderstorm anxiety more often than cats, but cats can have a fear of storms as well.

My rescued German Shepard/Collie mix trembles when a thunderstorm is in our area. She wraps herself around me as tight as she can get and shakes from head to toe until the thunderstorm drifts away. If we are outside and she hears thunder in the distance, she’s inside in a flash and refuses to come back out. Her eyes are wide as she listens for the next thunder boom. Thankfully, she isn’t aggressive. In severe cases of thunderstorm anxiety in pets, dogs have jumped through windows injuring themselves or someone in the family, and some do become aggressive.

There is evidence animals have an ability to predict the weather using their sense of smell and hearing as well as having an awareness of detecting changes in atmospheric pressure. Because of this sixth sense, our pets usually know a thunderstorm is approaching long before we do. Pets that are fearful of storms may pace, shake, drool, whine, bark, pant, hide or even run away from home as soon as they sense a storm brewing.

An Internet survey of dog owners suggests that herding dogs and hounds tend to suffer from thunderstorm anxiety more than other breeds. Rescued or shelter dogs are also more apt to be fearful of storms. It’s possible that puppies or kittens can sense our uneasiness which reinforces their fear. So a pet’s fear of thunderstorms could be something they learn at a young age, or is a fear developed from uncaring owners who may have mistreated them or left them on their own for a period of time. Regardless of how or when thunderstorm anxiety in pets develops, there are things you can do to help ease your pet’s fear.

Thunderstorm anxiety in pets has different levels of fear that can go all the way to phobia. Most pets can be kept calm in a safe place where they feel comfortable, such as a crate (kennel) they sleep in or a well lit cozy room in the basement away from a storm’s fury. Most cats never get to the phobia stage and will simply hide in a spot they feel comfortable in until the storm moves on. Try not to cuddle or reassure your pet that everything is alright because this rewards the fearful behavior. However, that’s easier said than done.

If thunderstorm anxiety in pets isn’t severe, you can try to desensitize your dog or cat by playing a recording of a thunderstorm starting off with a storm in the distance and gradually coming closer. Have plenty of treats on hand to reward your pet only as long as he remains calm. The idea is to condition him with treats for good behavior so he learns to ignore the storm through positive reinforcement. If your pet becomes anxious as the fake storm grows louder, ignore his behavior, do not give him a treat and reduce the sound until he calms down. You have to be careful with this technique, because if you move too fast or don’t notice your pet’s fear increase, it can make things worse. Make sure you know what you are doing if you try to desensitize your pet.

Music has been used successfully in treating thunderstorm anxiety in pets. Cats and dogs love classical music, but stick to a nice Brahms or Mozart – something relaxing and calm.

Natural remedies may be able to help, but it would be best to discuss the use of any medications, natural or prescription, with your vet first. A vet can prescribe anti-anxiety or anti-depressants if necessary.

Thunderstorm anxiety in pets can range from mild to severe. If your pet becomes aggressive, his fear grows into panic, you are afraid he may hurt himself or someone else or has injured himself, then it’s time to discuss options with your veterinarian who can help you help your pet the next time a thunderstorm pops up overhead.

Read more articles by Linda Cole

Find CANIDAE Retailers Near You!

The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.