Does thunder send your dog into a tailspin? 

Do fireworks set off a night-long frenzy? 

Does the vacuum make your dog vanish? 

Sound sensitivity in dogs is not simply a nervous or fearful behavior, but a medical condition that can affect their health and safety, and reduce their quality of life. However, it doesn’t have to be this way, thanks to a new treatment at Creature Comforts Veterinary Service

What’s that sound?—noise aversion in dogs

Canine noise aversion (i.e., noise anxiety, sensitivity, or phobia) is the intense, persistent, and excessive fear of specific sounds. Because they are afraid, noise-averse dogs frequently respond by attempting to flee from the offensive sound—often with dangerous consequences. In their panic, affected dogs may run away from home or escape from their owner, and become disoriented, injured, or killed. Other dogs react by hiding in the home or becoming intensely attached to their owner. But, make no mistake—these dogs are suffering, too. Prolonged anxiety and stress can negatively impact your pet’s overall health, while noise aversion can worsen and progress to generalized anxiety disorder. 

Sound it out—noise aversion signs in dogs

In severely affected dogs, noise aversion can be obvious. However, some sound-sensitive dogs may display only subtle signs, but the condition can be progressive, so early diagnosis is key to reducing stress and anxiety. You should schedule an appointment with your veterinarian if your dog shows any of the following signs:

  • Panting
  • Lip-licking or yawning
  • Attention seeking (i.e., clingy behavior)
  • Pacing or restlessness
  • Hypervigilance
  • House soiling
  • Trembling
  • Barking or whining
  • Freezing in place
  • Hiding
  • Loss of appetite
  • Destructive behavior 
  • Self-harm (e.g., obsessive grooming, chewing)
  • Escape

Some noise-averse dogs seem to bounce back as soon as the noise stops, while others may take hours or days to return to normal.

Sounds scary—common sound triggers for dogs

Loud and unpredictable sounds make anyone jump, but less loud, everyday sounds can also trigger noise aversion in dogs. The most common trigger sounds include:

  • Fireworks
  • Thunder
  • Heavy machinery
  • Sirens
  • Electronic noises
  • Alarms (e.g., smoke, security)
  • Doorbell or knocking
  • Appliances (e.g., vacuum, blender, air conditioner, microwave, washers, dryers)

Mute the madness—find relief with Sileo® for dogs

If any of your dog’s behaviors are listed, the first step toward relief is an examination at Creature Comforts Veterinary Service. Our veterinarian will conduct a complete physical assessment to rule out other conditions that can cause hypersensitivity in dogs, such as pain or vision loss. If your dog is diagnosed with noise aversion, we’ll develop a treatment plan—which may include Sileo—to reduce their anxiety. 

Sileo (dexmedetomidine oromucosal gel) is an exciting new medication and the first Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved treatment for noise aversion in dogs. Sileo provides fast-acting relief to calm dogs during scary events and, unlike sedatives, Sileo’s active ingredient does not cause drowsiness, because the drug targets specific nervous system reactions, rather than depressing them altogether. 

Sounds relaxing—Sileo advantages for dogs

Sileo is a gel that you apply inside your dog’s cheek along the gums, which allows Sileo to work quickly, because the medication is absorbed through the mucosal membrane rather than the digestive system. This rapid relief is essential for noise-averse dogs, because you can’t always predict the weather—or what noisy hobby your neighbors will decide to try next. 

Sileo’s additional benefits include:

  • Pre-loaded oral syringe — Sileo comes in ready-to-use oral syringes. Dosing is weight-based and easy to prepare. Your veterinarian will provide specific instructions.
  • As-needed dosing — Sileo should be given only when necessary and can be discontinued at any time—no daily prescription or wash-out phase. 
  • Safe repeat dosing — If necessary, dosing can be repeated after two to three hours during prolonged noise events (e.g., fireworks events, thunderstorms, construction projects).
  • No zombie-state — Dogs on Sileo are alert, responsive, and normally behaved. Sileo’s calming effects fade after a few hours as the body metabolizes and excretes the medication. 

Although noise aversion cannot be cured, Sileo can help your dog cope with scary sounds by preventing unnecessary stress and anxiety. 

White noise—additional strategies for reducing noise aversion in dogs

In addition to Sileo, your veterinarian may suggest complementary methods or therapies to reduce stress and help your dog relax, including:

  • Limiting exposure — If possible, decrease or eliminate your dog’s exposure to trigger noises, at a minimum reducing the volume by creating distance between the sound and your dog.
  • Calming pheromones — Canine pheromones (i.e., Adaptil) act as chemical messages, and can help dogs feel safe and relaxed.
  • Creating a safe space — When you anticipate a noise event, give your dog a safe space to relax, such as a small interior room, provide a bed, toys, and a long-lasting treat such as a food-stuffed Kong, and play some white noise to help drown out the scary sounds.
  • Calming supplements — Behavioral health supplements are a non-pharmaceutical way to promote a relaxed but alert state. Ask your dog’s veterinarian for specific product recommendations.
  • Behavior modification For a long-term resolution, training techniques known as desensitization and counterconditioning can help dogs develop positive—or at least neutral—responses to previously upsetting sounds.

If your hound hates high notes or your terrier is traumatized by thunder, silence their fear with a visit to Creature Comforts Veterinary Service. We will look for reasons for their noise aversion, and discuss solutions, including Sileo.