It’s summer time, which means fun in the sun, swimming and playing. It also means thunderstorms and fireworks. These loud noises can be terrifying to both your cats and dogs.
Storm/firework stress and anxiety can affect dogs and cats of any size or breed and reactions can range in severity. A mild reaction in a dog may be feelings on insecurity and following you around the house to hiding in a small space. Panting with ears lowered and trembling can be signs of a moderate reaction. Destructive behavior and working to break out of the house or yard and trying to escape from the source of their anxiety are indicative of a severe reaction. Every year shelters are filled with pets that have escaped the home and run away during storm or firework times. These are the lucky ones. Unfortunately, there are also a multitude of pets that are injured or killed by cars while they are fleeing in terror or from injuries sustained during their escape.
Knowing your pet’s stress triggers can go a long way in determining how you can plan to keep them comfortable, happy and safe.
- Do they get uneasy when it gets cloudy or when rain and thunder start?
- Do visitors to the home scare them?
- Do other animals scare them?
- Do loud sudden noises scare them?
Recognizing stressors is the first step in treating your pets anxiety before it becomes too severe or debilitating. It is much easier to treat anxiety before it peaks than to try to calm a pet down that is already in the middle of an anxiety attack.
- Provide a safe, dark place where you know your pet can be comfortable. This can be a crate or kennel, a bathroom or even a laundry room. Do not use a place where your dog is put when they are being scolded as this sends the message that they are being punished and they won’t understand why. This adds even further negative feelings towards their anxiety stressors.
- Make sure your pets are microchipped and registered so that they can be safely returned home in the event they get out. Check with your veterinarian today about getting a microchip if needed as thousands of pets are returned home every year because they were able to be identified by a microchip.
There are several non-pharmaceutical options available to help pets with anxiety. Most veterinarians will start with these before moving to a prescription sedative or anxiety medication.
- Nurture Calm collar - emits a pheromone that emulates the pheromones that mother emitted while nursing. These collars are effective for about one month which can be beneficial during storm season in Florida.
- Zylkene - oral supplement that is derived from a bovine milk protein which has a calming effect on both cats and dogs.
- Rescue Remedy-an herbal supplement that can be given orally or added to your pets water. This is dosed to effect for anxiety.
- Feliway/DAPP (diffuser) - can be kept through out the home or the space your pet spends the most time but is limited as only aids in assisting your pet in the immediate space around the diffuser
- Thundershirt - tight cotton/spandex vest that is worn as needed and provides a tight, reassuring “hug” that emulates pressure point therapy which has shown to be calming to certain animals.
Whatever option you choose, remember that you may not see an immediate response and that you may need to try out more than one thing to find what works best for your pet. Often, multimodal therapy with two or even three items listed above will work best for those pets with severe anxiety.
As a last option, pharmaceutical help may be an option and can be discussed with your veterinarian. NEVER give your pet medication that was not prescribed specifically to them by your veterinarian. Even if they are safe for you to take, it does not mean it is safe for them and there can be interactions with other medications. Proper dosing is important and should only be decided by your vet.
Following these simple recommendations can go a long way in assuring your and your fuzzy loved one have a safe and relaxing summer. Please feel free to call our clinic with any questions or concerns regarding the above mentioned therapies for noise sensitive fur kids. Westmonte Animal Clinic 407-862-6892