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18 July 2011

Vuvuzelas and your pet

There has been much hype around the vuvuzela and hearing damage, but what about the effect the noise has on our furry friends who have far more sensitive hearing than us?

There has been much hype around the vuvuzela and hearing damage during the Soccer World Cup, but what about the effect the noise has on our furry friends who have far more sensitive hearing than us? The buzz from a vuvuzela can affect more than your dog or cat's ears, it will probably excite or scare it too.

He advises pet owners to keep an eye out for any of the following behaviours in their pets which would indicate a phobia towards noise:

  • Shaking, trembling
  • Drooling
  • Vocalisation (barking/meowing)
  • Dilated pupils
  • Expressed anal glands
  • Hiding or trying to escape (digging, jumping through windows, running away)
  • Not eating or off food
  • Seeking the owner more than usual
  • Excessive/ surprise urinating and/or defecating

  • Ensure that your pet has a current ID: identification tag/microchip so that the local authorities can notify/return the pet.
  • Keep your pet inside, close the curtains and turn on the TV/radio to provide a distraction.
  • Provide a safe place: fearful or stressed animals often seek out areas where they feel safe. Ensure that this area is made comfortable with available water/food.
  • Leash/carrier: if you have to go outside ensure that you pet is on a leash or in a carrier at all times.
  • Walk first:  if possible ensure that your animal has urinated/defecated before the fear stimulus starts (i.e. before a match when people are likely to be blowing vuvuzela’s).
  • Project a calm attitude: if the owner is worried/nervous then this may add to the pet’s fear. Owners must always have an in-charge, calm and assertive attitude.
  • Maintain good health/nutrition: health problems can augment the stress levels of the pet e.g. Hip problems could make the animal more irritable and prone to other behavioural changes. Diets too high in protein have also been linked to some behavioural problems. A veterinarian must be consulted in advance about changes in diet.
  • Desensitisation: an animal’s response is decreased while they are exposed to elevated levels of fear producing stimulus. Consult a veterinarian/behaviourist before embarking on this approach.
  • Counter-conditioning: teach the pet to display an acceptable behaviour rather than an unacceptable one as a response to a certain stimulus. Consult a veterinarian/behaviourist before embarking on this approach. 

 
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