Summer pet tips: Dogs and thunder-phobia |

Summer pet tips: Dogs and thunder-phobia

Dawn Armstrong
Lake Tahoe Humane Society and SPCA

Some pets are terrified of thunder and other loud noises. It is heartbreaking to watch them scratch at the floor or seek shelter under furniture in a desperate effort to escape noise they do not understand and which may be hurting their ears. Breed and age can influence a dog’s likelihood of developing this kind of fearfulness. For example, herding breeds tend to be susceptible to noise anxiety. With age, any dog can develop it. A bad experience which included loud noise can create a phobia. Here are some ways to comfort your pet:

– Bring your pet inside. This will soften the noise exposure and also will prevent your pet from escaping in panic from the yard.

– Offer a calm touch and soothing words if your pet seeks you out.

– Tune in soothing music and/or turn on a fan to muffle the noise.

– Provide positive displacement activity with a Kong toy stuffed with cheese or peanut butter. Start a play session with a favorite toy.

If your pet’s stress is severe, consult with your veterinarian about a possible medical problem or about a mild relaxant. Herbal treatment also is available. Training your pet to associate loud noises with positive experiences is possible using counter conditioning and desensitizing techniques over time. Use recordings of thunder which start at low volume and then over a period of training, become louder. The frightening noise always is associated with treats and toys until the fear subsides to a reasonable level.

Keeping a cool cat cool

In hot weather, cats can suffer from heart and breathing problems, heat stroke and other life-threatening ailments. If dehydrated, he or she can suffer organ failure. Here are easy ideas to ensure a cat’s safety and comfort in summer:

n Make sure your cat has several bowls of fresh water in the house. Freeze water in small plastic containers and place them around favorite sleeping spots.

n When exceptionally hot weather is forecast, consider keeping your cat in the bathroom during the day so he or she can lie on the cool tiles, in the bathtub or curl up in the sink.

n Avoid shaving a cat. A cat’s fur is protection against sunburn.

n Avoid putting sunscreen on a cat. Light colored ear tips and noses are prime candidates for skin cancer, but a cat is likely to lick sunscreen off and the lotion could be toxic. Coax the cat inside instead.

Remember, cat or dog, never leave your pet in a parked car. Within less than 30 minutes, a car easily reaches 130 degrees inside, causing brain damage, heatstroke and ultimately death as the temperature rises. Take the pets along only when it’s their time to play away from home and you are going directly there and back.

Provided by the Lake Tahoe Humane Society and Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals to help “Keep Tahoe Kind.”

– Dawn Armstrong is the executive director of the Lake Tahoe Humane Society and SPCA.

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