Boom times aren't exactly a Fido favorite
Q: My dog is really fearful of loud noises, especially thunderstorms and fireworks. Can I do anything to help him be less afraid?
A: With Independence Day coming up, that's a concern of many pet owners. Up to 20 percent of dogs of all ages and breeds suffer from severe noise phobias. They can become so panicked that they jump through windows and glass doors, tear carpet away from doorways or dig out of the yard and run away. Shelters know to expect an influx of lost dogs on July 5 every year. (Cats can develop noise phobias, too, but they are more likely to just hide under the bed until the scary sounds subside.) Thunder and fireworks are the most common causes of noise phobias, but dogs can also fear gunshots or any unusual sound.
The following techniques may help:
* Expose him to the sounds of thunder or fireworks on CDs. Gradually increase the volume and duration. This can help desensitize him.
* Some dogs respond well to dog-appeasing pheromones, which come in collars, sprays and diffusers, and snug-fitting wraps such as Storm Defender Capes and Thundershirts.
* If your dog has a severe noise phobia, ask your veterinarian about medication to help him remain calm during a storm or a fireworks show in the distance.
* Never take your dog to a fireworks show to try to acclimate him to the sound. It's a good way to lose him.