September is Animal Pain Awareness Month

Pet Pain1

While we are different species, we all process and feel pain similarly. As advances in modern medicine have increased our lifespan, our animal family members are also reaping the benefits of advances in modern veterinary medicine. More of our beloved pets are undergoing elective surgical procedures to treat a variety of disease processes, from a torn cruciate ligament to extractions of infected teeth.

Pain management has become an important specialty area in veterinary medicine just as it has in human medicine. You want the best for your family members and that includes top-of-the-line treatments for pain management.

Because their pain is our pain

It was once thought that animals did not experience pain in the same way people do. But research supports that if a procedure is thought to be painful to us, it will also be painful to our furry friends as well, even though they may go to great lengths to hide it from us. So proper pain management must be offered to all of our patients.

What you can do

  1. Ask our veterinary team about the customized steps we will take to manage your pet’s pain.
  2. Talk to our veterinary team about common signs of osteoarthritis pain in senior pets, such as reluctance to go up or down stairs, being slow to rise after sleeping and loss of interest in playing, running or jumping.
  3. Request a pain consultation for your pet. Lange Animal Clinic veterinarians offer tailored pain management protocols for patients at risk for chronic pain such as osteoarthritis.
  4. Ask about rehabilitation options and other steps to manage any chronic pain your pet experiences.

Pain management is an important aspect of any surgical or medical procedure.  Together with our veterinary team, you can make your pets as comfortable as possible in the postoperative period or into their senior years.


For over 45 years, Lange Animal Clinic has provided veterinary services in Pekin, IL and the surrounding areas for over three family generations. Our expert staff of Veterinarians, Veterinary Technicians, and Veterinary Assistants are trained to ensure the best quality medical care for your beloved pets-whether it be as a routine medical examination to more complicated surgical procedures. We are a small companion animal clinic providing services for dogs, cats, and exotic pets.

Dr. Colleen O’Rourke, owner and senior Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, takes great pride in making certain that every patient’s experience is handled with the utmost care, compassion, and economically in the best interests of our clients. Visit us at www.langeanimal.com.  

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June is Adopt-a-Cat Month Sponsored by the American Humane Association

June- Adopt a Cat Month

If you’re thinking about adopting a cat, our Veterinarians at Lange Animal Clinic suggest that you consider taking home two! Cats require exercise, mental stimulation, and social interaction. Two cats can provide this for each other. Plus they’ll provide more benefits to you. Cats’ purring has been shown to soothe humans as well as themselves – and they have an uncanny ability to just make you smile. A great place to start your search is online. Sites like www.petfinder.com let you search numerous shelters in your area simultaneously to help narrow your search and more quickly find the match that’s right for you and your new feline friend.  Here are some things to keep in mind should you decide to adopt a cat:

  • Find a cat whose personality meshes with yours. Just as we each have our own personality, so do cats. In general, cats with long hair and round heads and bodies are more easygoing than lean cats with narrow heads and short hair, who are typically more active. Adoption counselors can offer advice to help you match the cat’s personality with your own.
  • Schedule a visit within the first few days with a Lange Animal Clinic veterinarian following the adoption. You’ll want to bring any medical records you received from the adoption center on your first visit. Kittens in particular should accompany you to make the appointment – even before the exam itself – so our staff can pet the cat and tell you that you’ve chosen the most beautiful one ever.
  • Make sure everyone in the house is prepared to have a cat before it comes home. Visiting the shelter or animal control facility should be a family affair. When adopting a new cat with existing pets at home, discuss with the adoption facility or one of our veterinarians how to make a proper introduction.
  • Budget for the short- and long-term costs of a cat. Understand any pet is a responsibility and there’s a cost associated with that. A cat adopted from a shelter is a bargain; many facilities will have already provided spaying or neutering, initial vaccines, and a microchip for permanent identification. If the cat doesn’t have a microchip- a Lange Animal Clinic can perform the procedure for the low cost of $39.00.
  • Stock up on supplies before the cat arrives. Be prepared so your new cat can start feeling at home right away. Your cat will need a litter box, cat litter, food and water bowls, food, scratching posts, safe and stimulating toys, a cushy bed, a brush for grooming, a toothbrush and nail clippers.
  • Cat-proof your home. A new cat will quickly teach you not to leave things lying out. Food left on the kitchen counter will serve to teach your new friend to jump on counters for a possible lunch. Get rid of loose items your cat might chew on, watch to ensure the kitten isn’t chewing on electric cords, and pick up random items like paper clips (which kittens may swallow).
  • Go slowly when introducing your cat to new friends and family. It can take several weeks for a cat to relax in a new environment. It’s a great idea to keep the new addition secluded to a single room (with a litter box, food and water, toys, and the cat carrier left out and open with bedding inside) until the cat is used to the new surroundings; this is particularly important if you have other pets. If you’ve adopted a kitten, socialization is very important. But remember – take it slow.
  • Be sure to include your new pet in your family’s emergency plan. You probably have a plan in place for getting your family to safety in case of an emergency. Adjust this plan to include your pets. Add our clinic phone number of (309) 347-4679 and the closest after hour’s emergency clinic such as Tri-County Animal Emergency Clinic at (309) 672-1565 to your “in-case-of-emergency” call list.
  • If you’re considering giving a cat as a gift, make sure the recipient is an active participant in the adoption process. Though well-meaning, the surprise kitty gift doesn’t allow for a “get-to know-one-another” period. Remember, adopting a cat isn’t like purchasing a household appliance or a piece of jewelry – this is a real living, breathing, and emotional being.

Lange Animal Clinic will occasionally take in strays and/or newly arrived kittens for adoption as well and we post these updates to our blog, Facebook, as well as on our board in our reception area.  When we take in these cats- we spay or neuter the cat, perform a feline immune deficiency virus test, perform fecal exam & deworming and we also vaccinate with a distemper injection.  Our adoption fee includes all of the above services and is only $80.

Celebrate the summer by bringing a couple of furry felines in need of a home to your family and household!


For over 45 years, Lange Animal Clinic has provided veterinary services in Pekin, IL and the surrounding areas for over three family generations. Our expert staff of Veterinarians, Veterinary Technicians, and Veterinary Assistants are trained to ensure the best quality medical care for your beloved pets-whether it be as a routine medical examination to more complicated surgical procedures. We are a small companion animal clinic providing services for dogs, cats, and exotic pets.

Dr. Colleen O’Rourke, owner and senior Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, takes great pride in making certain that every patient’s experience is handled with the utmost care, compassion, and economically in the best interests of our clients. Visit us at www.langeanimal.com.  

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Properly Removing a Tick from Your Pet

Tick

The forecast for ticks in the Central, IL area is on the rise this year.   The veterinarians at Lange Animal Clinic recommend a minimum of once-yearly examinations and year-round parasite control for all dogs and cats in your home. The best way to reduce your dog’s risk for ehrlichiosis is to follow our veterinarians’ advice and consistently use appropriate tick control products for your pets.

With that being said —how do you deal with removing a tick if you happen to find one or more on your dog or cat? While it’s important to get these little suckers off quickly, our veterinarians advise that you stay calm and don’t rush it. Moving too fast when removing a tick could potentially create more problems, both for your pet and for you.

While the following instructions employ tweezers, be aware that there are some very good products on the market designed specifically for safe tick removal. If you live in a tick-heavy area or are taking your pets to a place where they are likely to get ticks, it’s a good idea to buy one of these tools and have it on hand. They generally work better than tweezers at getting out the whole tick, and are relatively inexpensive.

Step-by-Step Tick Removal Instructions

Step 1—Prepare a Container

Throwing a tick in the trash or flushing it down the toilet will not kill it, and it’s actually best to hold on to it for a while for veterinary testing in case your pet falls ill from the bite. Be ready with somewhere to put the tick after you’ve removed it—the best option is a screw-top jar containing some rubbing alcohol.

Step 2—Wear Protective Gloves

Put on latex or rubber gloves so you’ll never have direct contact with the tick or your pet’s bite area. Ticks can carry infective agents that may enter your bloodstream through breaks in your skin or through mucous membranes (if you touch your eyes, nostrils or mouth).

Step 3—Get a Partner to Help Restrain Your Pet Safely

You don’t want your pet squirming away before you’re finished, so if possible, have a helper on hand to distract, soothe or hold your pet still.

Step 4—Removal of the Tick

Treat the bite area with rubbing alcohol and, using a pair of tweezers, grasp the tick as close to your pet’s skin as possible. Pull straight upwards with steady, even pressure. Place the tick in your jar.  Do not twist or jerk the tick! This may leave the mouth-parts embedded in your pet, or cause the tick to regurgitate infective fluids.  Also, do not squeeze or crush the body of the tick, because its fluids (saliva and gut contents) may contain infective organisms.

Step 5— Check the Area

Sometimes, in spite of doing everything right, a tick’s mouth-parts will get left behind in your pet’s skin. If the area doesn’t appear red or inflamed, the best thing to do is to disinfect it and not to try to take the mouth-parts out. A warm compress to the area might help the body expel them, but do not go at it with tweezers.

Step 6—Clean and Disinfect

Thoroughly disinfect the bite site and wash your hands with soap and water (even though you were wearing gloves). Sterilize your tweezers with alcohol or by carefully running them over a flame.

Step 7—Monitor the Affected Area

Over the next few weeks, closely monitor the bite area for any signs of localized infection. If the area is already red and inflamed, or becomes so later, please bring your pet—and your jarred tick—to us for further evaluation.


For over 45 years, Lange Animal Clinic has provided veterinary services in Pekin, IL and the surrounding areas for over three family generations. Our expert staff of Veterinarians, Veterinary Technicians, and Veterinary Assistants are trained to ensure the best quality medical care for your beloved pets-whether it be as a routine medical examination to more complicated surgical procedures. We are a small companion animal clinic providing services for dogs, cats, and exotic pets.

Dr. Colleen O’Rourke, owner and senior Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, takes great pride in making certain that every patient’s experience is handled with the utmost care, compassion, and economically in the best interests of our clients. Visit us at www.langeanimal.com.  

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The Severe Dangers of Lilies to Cats

No Lillies

Plants and flowers can be toxic to pets and we find that most pet parents are fully aware of that. In fact, pet owners are so aware of certain toxicities that it’s not uncommon come December for Lange Animal Clinic to start receiving calls from our clients who are worried because their cat was seen nibbling on the leaf of a poinsettia plant.

The truth is that there are other plants and flowers that are more common and more dangerous to pets than poinsettias. One such flower is the lily.  Bottom line… cats and lilies don’t mix!

It only takes a nibble or a lick:

  • Lilies are one of the most dangerous flowers to have around cats. It takes only a nibble or lick to send a cat into acute kidney failure, which can be fatal.
  • If you live with cats, never have lilies in the home. When sending flower bouquets to friends or family members with cats, specifically request no lilies.

Type of true lilies include the Stargazer lily, Tiger lily, Easter lily, Day lily, Japanese show lily, Asiatic lily, Rubrum lily, and others – are beautiful, sweet-smelling flowers that are so common, you’ll find them everywhere from your own backyard to bouquets.  The unfortunate reality is that they are one of the most dangerous flowers to have around cats. It takes only a nibble on one leaf or stem, or the ingestion of a small amount of lily pollen (easy to do when a cat grooms itself) to send a cat into acute kidney failure and you rushing to the emergency vet.

Acute kidney (renal) failure is always debilitating to your pet and is expensive for you. The outlook for cats with acute kidney failure resulting from eating lilies can be good, so long as early and aggressive treatment is pursued by a Lange Animal Clinic veterinarian. But if too much time passes before ingestion is recognized and appropriate treatment is started, the outlook becomes much worse and death from the disease or from euthanasia is more likely. The harsh truth is that without proper treatment, acute kidney failure is going to be fatal.

Treatment for lily-induced acute kidney failure involves aggressive IV fluids, injectable medications, nutritional support, and very close monitoring by Lange Animal Clinic veterinarians. If such treatment is proving unsuccessful, advanced options, such as peritoneal dialysis, continuous renal replacement therapy, or renal dialysis are also considered.  Referrals to specialists may be necessary for these types of treatments and they are quite costly to perform

Hospitalization and treatment costs for this condition will depend on the severity of the case and the cat’s response to therapy. It can safely be assumed, though, that a hospital bill will likely start at $2,000, and could increase to $4,000 or more. This is not a condition that can be conservatively treated – delay in starting the appropriate treatment both worsens the cat’s prognosis and increases treatment costs.

As you are hopefully appreciating, preventing your cat’s exposure to lilies is truly of the utmost importance, and there are several easy ways you can help prevent this toxicity.

  •  If you live with cats, never have lilies in the home. Regardless of how out of reach you think they may be, it’s just not worth the risk. Cats jump, dead leaves fall, vases spill, and pollen travels on breezes – any of these scenarios can kill your cat.
  • Keep your cats indoors. Many people have lilies in their garden. If your cat is outdoors, unless they are in a secure outdoor enclosure, there is no guarentee to ensure that they will not eat or rub up against those lilies.
  • When sending flower bouquets to friends or family members with cats, specifically request no lilies to be sent. To make sure they listen to your request, tell them that the recipient is deathly allergic to the flowers. Some florists may not be aware of the dangers of lilies to cats, and they don’t need to know that the ‘recipient’ you are referring to is your friend’s cat.
  • Inform your friends and family members of the dangers of lilies to cats through social media or by simply in conversation. The more people that know about the risk, the more cats we can save from lily toxicity and possible death.

Again, take every precaution necessary to avoid any exposure to lilies with all of your furry felines!


For over 45 years, Lange Animal Clinic has provided veterinary services in Pekin, IL and the surrounding areas for over three family generations. Our expert staff of Veterinarians, Veterinary Technicians, and Veterinary Assistants are trained to ensure the best quality medical care for your beloved pets-whether it be as a routine medical examination to more complicated surgical procedures. We are a small companion animal clinic providing services for dogs, cats, and exotic pets.

Dr. Colleen O’Rourke, owner and senior Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, takes great pride in making certain that every patient’s experience is handled with the utmost care, compassion, and economically in the best interests of our clients. Visit us at www.langeanimal.com.  

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Inappropriate Elimination in Cats at Home

litter box

Inappropriate elimination (urinating or defecating outside of the litter box, and/or spraying) is the most common behavior problem of older cats but may also occur in cats of all ages. There are numerous causes for this behavior, many of them medical, so a cat who has inappropriate elimination should be examined by a Lange Animal Clinic veterinarian. Laboratory tests may be required to be performed in most cases.

Contributing factors to inappropriate elimination

Medical conditions which result in an increased frequency of urination or defecation may be the underlying cause for this behavior problem. These conditions include: colitis, inflammatory bowel disease, diabetes mellitus, hyperthyroidism, kidney or liver disease, and feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD). Medical conditions which cause pain urinating or defecating, or make it difficult for the cat to get in and out of the litter box, may also result in inappropriate elimination. Such conditions include arthritis, FLUTD, anal sac disease, loss of vision, and some forms of colitis. Treatment of these medical conditions may help to resolve this behavioral problem. In addition, using litter boxes with lower sides, placing the litter box in the area in which the cat spends the most time, and increasing the number of litter boxes may be helpful.

Stress can also be a major cause of inappropriate elimination in cats of all ages. Stressors such as moving, changes in routine, holidays, or changes in the makeup of the family can result in inappropriate elimination.  The veterinarians at Lange Animal Clinic recommend that reducing these stressors or decreasing their impact on the household will benefit your cat (and probably you, too!). For instance, when moving, attempt to keep the cat in a quiet portion of the home when packing and during the actual moving day. At the new residence, confine your cat to a quiet room at first (probably a bedroom), placing her food, water, litter box and favorite sleeping material (bed, sweatshirt, etc.) in the room. Spend time with her in that room and feed her and clean the litter box at the usual time. Gradually let her become accustomed to the rest of the house.

Cats of all ages may develop an aversion to the litter box or substrate (material inside of the litter box). Some of the litters with a ‘perfume’ or ‘antiseptic’ smell may dissuade some cats from using them. Trying different types of litter including clumping litter, sand, newspaper, and no litter are things that could be helpful.

Litter box location may also cause inappropriate elimination.   Some cats may not like where a box is located. It may be located too close to their food or water. It may be in a high traffic area where they cannot have privacy. It may be in an area where they can be easily ambushed by another cat. It may be on a different level of the house than where they spend most of their time. In addition to trying various substrates, also place extra boxes around the house to see if box location makes a difference. There should always be at least one more litter box than the number of cats in the household.

Sanitary conditions may also be a factor as to why your cat is eliminating inappropriately.  Some cats are very particular. Some will not defecate in the same box in which they urinate. Others will not go in a box which has been used by another cat. Just as we do not like to use dirty bathrooms, neither do many cats. If the litter box is not cleaned regularly, they may decide to find a different bathroom.

Possible Solutions to Inappropriate Elimination

  • Have your cat checked by a Lange Animal Clinic veterinarian for a possible medical condition, and start treatment for the condition if one exists. If the cat is extremely stressed, talk to one of our veterinarians about some medications which may help.
  • Place numerous litter boxes around the house. You do not have to use anything fancy: dishpans, large plastic containers, or other items may work just as well. Try a larger litter box, such as a sweater storage box; some behaviorists feel litter boxes are often too small.
  • Use different substrates including newspaper, clumpable and nonclumpable litter, sand, sawdust (not cedar), carpet remnants, and no litter at all. Use unscented litter, since many cats do not like the scented kind. If you find the substrate that your cat prefers is not the one you do, e.g., carpet remnants, try slowly converting the cat back to litter. Place a small amount of litter on the carpet remnants the first week, and if all goes well, use more litter each week until you can finally remove the carpet remnants from the box.
  • Try different depths of litter. Many people put too much litter in the box. Some cats like only a small amount.
  • Clean any soiled areas with a pet safe cleaner such as Nature’s Miracle which is specially designed for use on pet urine and stool. Regular detergents and other cleaners will not break down the urine or feces, and if the cat smells any urine or feces on a carpet or floor, the cat may continue to use that spot to eliminate. Nature’s Miracle does a great job dissolving odor causing compounds from urine or feces in the location where the elimination occurred. In some cases, the carpet or carpet padding may need to be replaced.
  • Feed the cat where she is inappropriately eliminating. Many cats will not urinate or defecate in the area in which they are fed.
  • Use upside down carpet runners (the ones with the spikes on the bottom), heavy plastic, aluminum foil, double-sided tape, motion detectors, pet repellents, or scat mats to limit her access to the area where she inappropriately eliminates.
  • Take your cat to the litter box frequently, and if she uses it, praise her, or even give her a treat.

If you catch your cat in the act of urinating or defecating outside of the box (or even using the digging motion), use a remote correction. This generally means doing something that will startle her. Tossing a pop can with a few coins inside of it and taped shut near the cat (but not at her!) may get her to stop.   It is best if she does not associate you with the correction, but thinks it ‘comes out of the blue.’

Do NOT punish the cat. Punishing the cat, including rubbing her nose in the soiled area will not help, and will probably increase the stress on the cat.  In some situations, it may be helpful to confine the cat to a small room with food, water, toys, bed, and litter box. Once she is using the litter box in the smaller area, gradually allow her into larger areas of the house.


For over 45 years, Lange Animal Clinic has provided veterinary services in Pekin, IL and the surrounding areas for over three family generations. Our expert staff of Veterinarians, Veterinary Technicians, and Veterinary Assistants are trained to ensure the best quality medical care for your beloved pets-whether it be as a routine medical examination to more complicated surgical procedures. We are a small companion animal clinic providing services for dogs, cats, and exotic pets.

Dr. Colleen O’Rourke, owner and senior Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, takes great pride in making certain that every patient’s experience is handled with the utmost care, compassion, and economically in the best interests of our clients. Visit us at www.langeanimal.com.  

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FDA Warns Popular Topical Pain Medication Toxic to Pets

Fernpelt

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued an official warning that topical pain medications containing flurbiprofen are dangerous to animals, even in tiny amounts. The warning was the result of several reports of household pets becoming ill or dying after the guardians used flurbiprofen topical pain relief formulations.

Flurbiprofen is a non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) used to treat arthritis, joint pain, muscular discomfort and other aches. It was originally marketed as Ansaid® (Pfizer), then Froben® (Abbott), and is now widely available in generic form. It is similar to ibuprofen (Motrin® or Advil®), naproxen (Naprosyn®), and other NSAIDs. Flurbiprofen is commonly added to pain relieving creams and lotions, and that may be how pets, especially cats, are being accidentally poisoned.

Pets and medications

Cats seem particularly sensitive to NSAIDs such as flurbiprofen. For years veterinarians have warned cat owners to avoid Tylenol (acetaminophen) and never give your dog or cat aspirin, ibuprofen, or other NSAIDs without consulting with your veterinarian first. Add flurbiprofen to that No-Try List.

What prompted this warning?

The FDA revealed that the guardian of two cats sickened by flurbiprofen had recently used a pain-relieving cream on the neck and feet. The guardian did not recall the two cats eating, licking or otherwise directly contacting the cream. These two cats developed kidney failure and fortunately recovered with veterinary care.

Another household had three cats that became sick and died, despite aggressive veterinary care. The guardian had also used a flurbiprofen-containing product prior to the cats developing clinical signs. All three cats eventually died and had necropsies performed, confirming NSAID toxicity.

Clinical signs of flurbiprofen and NSAID toxicity are severe and abrupt. Many cats will progress to critical condition within 24 to 72 hours of NSAID exposure. Dogs may also be affected by flurbiprofen and NSAIDs, although they appear to be less sensitive to developing life-threatening toxicity.

What are the signs of NSAID poisoning?

Clinical Signs of Flurbiprofen and NSAID Toxicity in Cats and Dogs include:

  • Decreased appetite and reluctance to eat
  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting and diarrhea
  • Blood in stool
  • Melena (black, tarry stools)
  • Abdominal pain
  • Anemia
  • Increased thirst or urination

How can you protect your pet?

Lange Animal Clinic veterinarians in Pekin, IL urge the that if you use a topical pain relief product, it’s critical to keep these medications away from your dog or cat. If you apply a topical cream or lotion, avoid touching your pet for several hours and only after thoroughly washing. Be careful contacting couches, chairs and bedding with these preparations. Curious cats and dogs may lick residues and become poisoned. Cats may be affected by tiny amounts of flurbiprofen and there may be risk of continued exposure to tiny amounts over several days or weeks.

Our veterinarians have been seeing an increase in inadvertent poisonings from topical medications over the past several years. Hormone and testosterone gels, cancer medications, nicotine patches, topical steroids and pain treatments have all been reported to cause accidental toxicity in pets. This latest FDA warning reminds us that as we seek convenience and relief for ourselves, there may be unintended consequences for our pets. Treat your pain, but remember even our most seemingly safe medications may be deadly to our furry family members.


For over 45 years, Lange Animal Clinic has provided veterinary services in Pekin, IL and the surrounding areas for over three family generations. Our expert staff of Veterinarians, Veterinary Technicians, and Veterinary Assistants are trained to ensure the best quality medical care for your beloved pets-whether it be as a routine medical examination to more complicated surgical procedures. We are a small companion animal clinic providing services for dogs, cats, and exotic pets.

Dr. Colleen O’Rourke, owner and senior Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, takes great pride in making certain that every patient’s experience is handled with the utmost care, compassion, and economically in the best interests of our clients. Visit us at www.langeanimal.com.  

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Thunderstorms and Easing Your Pets’ Fear

tstorm

It is still relevantly unknown as to why some pets become afraid of noises such as thunderstorms.  This is a common problem in dogs, but less so in cats. The fear can soon become a phobia for a pet causing irrational fear response(s) and behavior issues. In the case of thunderstorms, pets may be fearful of storm-associated events such as a change in barometric pressure, lightning, electrostatic disturbances, and even smells associated with the storms. Noise phobias can include fear of thunder and severe gusts of wind knocking down larger outdoor items.

Some studies suggest that certain breeds of dogs have an above average risk of developing noise phobias. These include such breeds as: Collies, German Shepherds, Beagles, and Basset Hounds. A noise phobia may be traced to a particular bad experience of a noise, but often, no triggering event can be ascertained. In most cases, the fear of noises and storms can progressively worsen. Over time, a pet may become fearful of similar sounds or events associated with the noise.

Lange Animal Clinic veterinarians in Pekin, IL believe that an owner’s attitude can influence the severity of the fear. For instance, if owners themselves are nervous during storms, noise phobias in their pets may occur more often or become more severe. Similarly, if the owner attempts to overly comfort the animal, the animal interprets it as confirming there really is something to be afraid of. The over petting or comforting is really positive reinforcement of an undesirable behavior.

Signs or behaviors to watch for during Thunderstorms

Dogs or cats may display different signs of noise phobias which may include one or more of the following:

  • Hiding (most common sign in cats)
  • Urinating
  • Defecating
  • Chewing
  • Panting
  • Pacing
  • Trying to escape (digging, jumping through windows or going through walls, running away)
  • Drooling
  • Seeking the owner
  • Expressing anal glands
  • Not eating
  • Not listening to commands
  • Trembling or shaking
  • Vocalizing (barking or meowing)

Consult with a Lange Animal Clinic veterinarian to help you address any animal behavior problems.  We will assist you in developing the appropriate treatment plan for your pet.

How do you treat noise phobia?

There are no guarantees that a noise phobia can be eliminated completely, but in most cases the fear can be effectively managed. The type of treatment and success levels depend on several factors including the severity of the phobia, how long your pet has had to deal with it, how often it is occurring, seasonality, and the amount of time you are willing to dedicate to correcting the behavior.

The first thing to remember is that you should refrain from giving excessive attention or punishment for fearful behavior. Continuous petting or coddling may be perceived by the pet as a reward for the fearful response. In the event of overcompensating comfort a dog during a storm, for example, it may signal to the pet that the storm really is something he should be afraid of. Similarly, the pet should not be punished for showing fear. This will only increase his anxiety level. Instead, emit confidence, and provide your dog attention in the form of playing, grooming, or other activities he or she enjoys.

The following are some techniques to use to help change the phobia of thunderstorms:

Change the surroundings
By changing the surroundings of the animal during the storm or noise, the anxiety level can be reduced. Changing the pet’s surroundings may reduce the volume level of the sound or help make the pet less aware of it.  “White noise,” such as running a fan or air conditioner may aid in blocking out some of the fear-producing noise. Playing a TV or radio can have a similar effect. Allowing the pet access to the basement or a room without outside walls or windows may decrease the noise level

Exercise your pet (and yourself too!)
The pet should receive consistent exercise on a daily basis, and more so on a day when the thunderous noise occur during storms. The exercise will help to wear down your animal, both mentally and physically, and may reduce the pet’s responsive to the noise. In addition, exercise has the effect of increasing natural serotonin levels, which can act as a sedative.

Create a safety zone for your pet
Pets may feel more comfortable and relaxed in a small space such as a crate or a small room like a bathroom (run the fan and leave the lights on). Some pets seek out the safety of the bathtub or shower during a storm. (Some have hypothesized that a pet may feel less static electricity if on tile or porcelain.) If the pet is comfortable in a crate, the crate can be covered with a blanket to add to the feeling of security. The door to the crate should be left open and the pet should not be confined to the crate, which could dramatically increase the stress level.

Maintain calm and composure
Pets can very easily pickup on the mental state of their owners. If you too are nervous because of the storm- this will only add to the dog or cat’s fear. Your pet will look to you for direction, so keep an “upbeat” and “in charge” attitude.

Maintain good health and nutrition
Health problems may increase the stress level of pets, and increase their anxiety. For instance, a dog in pain because of hip dysplasia may be more irritable and prone to other behavior changes. Diets too high in protein have been linked to some behavioral problems. Consult one of the Lange Animal Clinic veterinarians if you would like advice about changing your pet’s diet.

Special techniques can be used to help change the animal’s response to the noise.  We can offer guidance and suggestions to help.  Second level alternatives may include anti-anxiety medications but we strongly encourage following the above techniques first to identify whether or not success can be achieved using those methods before relying on medications.


For over 45 years, Lange Animal Clinic has provided veterinary services in Pekin, IL and the surrounding areas for over three family generations. Our expert staff of Veterinarians, Veterinary Technicians, and Veterinary Assistants are trained to ensure the best quality medical care for your beloved pets-whether it be as a routine medical examination to more complicated surgical procedures. We are a small companion animal clinic providing services for dogs, cats, and exotic pets.

Dr. Colleen O’Rourke, owner and senior Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, takes great pride in making certain that every patient’s experience is handled with the utmost care, compassion, and economically in the best interests of our clients. Visit us at www.langeanimal.com.  

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