Dogs with noise sensitivity should be routinely assessed for pain by vets

Jennifer Parker
10 April 2018, at 10:20am

Dogs that show fear or anxiety when faced with loud or sudden noises should be routinely assessed for pain by veterinary surgeons, a new study has found. Animal behavioural scientists examined cases of dogs which had developed a sensitivity to loudness, different pitches or sudden noises, and found that those that also had associated musculoskeletal pain formed a greater sensitivity to noise.

The study suggested that there could be association between a fear of noises and underlying pain. The researchers believe that pain, which could be undiagnosed, could be exacerbated when a noise makes the dogs tense up or “start”, putting extra stress on muscles or joints which are already inflamed, causing further pain. That pain is then associated with a loud or startling noise, leading to a sensitivity to noise and avoidance of situations where they had previously had a bad experience.

Researchers say that veterinary surgeons should ensure that all dogs with behaviour problems associated with noise receive a thorough physical examination to see if pain could be a factor in their fear or anxiety, so that undiagnosed pain could be treated, and the behavioural issue tackled. All the dogs that had pain and were treated showed an improvement of their behaviour. The findings have been published by Frontiers in Veterinary Science