Dogs Fears & Anxieties Holidays

Snug as a Bug in…Thunder?

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When you think of summer, what comes to mind? For me, it has always been beachy weekends and holiday gatherings with family and friends. Even hammock-lounging, agenda-less summer days were associated with blissful tranquility, until, that is, I shared those dog days of summer with my best fur pal Bug. For Bug, summer, specifically the terrifying sounds of summer, is nothing to celebrate.  

And Bug is not alone. Two out of three dogs suffer from noise aversion: the fear, anxiety, and stress associated with noise1. While fireworks and thunder are the most common triggers for canine noise aversion, everyday noises in the sounds of summer symphony can be just as likely to incite fear, anxiety, and stress.2

Clinical signs may include panting, pacing, hiding, trying to escape, self-trauma, and property destruction and can be likened to a panic attack on the human side. It is a serious and complex condition with causes not completely understood and is thought to have both genetic and environmental components. 2-4

Early diagnosis and treatment seem to play an important role not only in slowing progression but also in preventing pets from becoming sensitive to other noises, escalation of intensity and duration, and development of other anxieties like separation anxiety. Noise sensitivity can affect the bond we have with our pets and disrupt household pet harmony. That’s because noise anxiety can have an element of social transmission, the transferring of the condition from one dog to another with no previous history5

As with most conditions in veterinary medicine, managing noise aversion should be approached from many angles: identifying environmental triggers, implementing a behavior modification plan, and leveraging calming treatments like pheromones, Thunder Shirts or other snug-fitting garments, supplements, and medication. And just as important, we can support our pets by partnering with our veterinary health teams and setting up consistent touchpoints and reassessments.

Since noise aversion is a manageable rather than a curable condition, remembering to watch for new and atypical behaviors arising over the lifespan of your pet is key – especially if a relatively well-managed and predictable noise-sensitive pet experiences a change in behavior or presents with adult-onset problematic social behaviors or tiffs with other household pets.

Anxieties, phobias, and fears are common and often frustrating behaviors of dogs. Recognizing and seeking treatment when they first arise is important to maximize success. Failure to do so can result in progression and severity of your dog’s signs and result in human animal bond disruption, relinquishment or, in severe cases, discussion of humane euthanasia2

As you prepare for summer, familiarize your family with signs of canine noise aversion and be the sounds of summer hero for your dog like I am for my Bug. This downloadable noise aversion checklist can be a great tool to help your vet health team in making a diagnosis and helping to quiet those dreadful sounds of summer. To learn more about Sileo® (dexmedetomidine oromucosal gel), the first FDA approved treatment for noise aversion in dogs, visit My Dog is Scared of Noises — What Can I Do? | Zoetis Petcare

IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION: Do not use SILEO in dogs with severe cardiovascular disease, respiratory, liver or kidney diseases, or in conditions of shock, severe debilitation, or stress due to extreme heat, cold or fatigue or in dogs hypersensitive to dexmedetomidine or to any of the excipients. SILEO should not be administered in the presence of preexisting hypotension, hypoxia, or bradycardia. Do not use in dogs sedated from previous dosing. SILEO has not been evaluated in dogs younger than 16 weeks of age or in dogs with dental or gingival disease that could have an effect on the absorption of SILEO.  SILEO has not been evaluated for use in breeding, pregnant, or lactating dogs or for aversion behaviors to thunderstorms. Transient pale mucous membranes at the site of application may occur with SILEO use.  Other uncommon adverse reactions included emesis, drowsiness or sedation. Handlers should avoid direct exposure of SILEO to their skin, eyes or mouth.  Failure to lock the ring-stop on the syringe before dosing SILEO could potentially lead to an accidental overdose. Always review INSTRUCTIONS FOR USE before dispensing and dosing.
See full Prescribing Information at:


  1. The Harris Poll: Custom Motion Sickness and Noise Aversion Omnibus Pet Owner Quantitative Research Report, December 2018
  2. Sherman BL, Mills Ds. Canine anxieties and phobias: An update on separation anxiety and Noise Aversions. Vet Clin Nor Amer: Small Anim Pract, 2008; 38: 1081-1106.
  3. Murphree O, Dykman R, Peters J. Genetically-determined abnormal behavior in dogs: Results of behavioural tests. Conditional Reflex, 1967; 2: 199-205.
  4. Overall KL. Manual of Clinical Behavioral Medicine for dogs and cats. Elsevier Mosby, St Louis, MO. 2013; 256-261.
  5. Iimura, K., The nature of noise fear in domestic dogs. 2006 University of Lincoln.

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This article was reviewed/edited by board-certified veterinary behaviorist Dr. Kenneth Martin and/or veterinary technician specialist in behavior Debbie Martin, LVT.

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