Summer is here and many are celebrating, but for some dogs similar to Annie, summer is not always a celebration. Storms and fireworks are a stressful time for many dogs.
Note: more pets go missing on the 4th of July than any other holiday. This means that the 5th is the busiest day for animal shelters. So try to avoid taking pets to fireworks shows with you. You don’t want to leave your pet outside unattended. They may try to run away during the fireworks. It would be a good idea to bring them inside. It is important to have proper identification on your pet at all times so if they go missing you have a greater chance of being reunited with you. You may also want to consider microchipping your pet so that you may be reunited faster.
This is Annie and I am afraid of thunderstorms. I used to climb on my parent’s lap, hide, and wake them up in the middle of the night. But now I am a Thunder Dog! I wear my Thundershirt during stressful situations and now the storms don’t scare me. I can even relax and sleep in my own bed during storms if I have my Thundershirt on. Below we have listed many tips to help make these times less stressful for other dogs, too.
Thundershirts can be purchased at Stow Kent Animal Hospital and Portage Animal Clinic. They come with a 45 day money back guarantee. They can help with many types of anxiety. The idea is similar to swaddling a baby or to a weighed vest on an autistic child. It applies pressure to a variety of different pressure points in order to make pets feel more secure. We have seen great success and it has helped many dogs become more confident.
There are some important points to make sure the shirt is effective. The first point is to make sure you get the correct size shirt and apply it to fit very snug. If you need guidance feel free to bring your pet in to the hospital and the staff can help you purchase the correct one. Then wear the shirt for some happy times as well as the scary times so your pet doesn’t’ associate the shirt with scary events. Applying it only during stressful events can make us more anxious because we know that something scary is going to happen. The last point is to make sure that you pay close attention to your dog’s behavior; sometimes it does not eliminate all anxious behaviors but it may provide some relief for your pet. In order to help gauge how the Thundershirt works, assign your pet a number between 1 and 10 based on how nervous he/she is without the shirt. Once your pet has been wearing the shirt for a while, reassess the situation. Is he/she any less nervous? What would his/her number be now? If it provides any relief you should continue to use the shirt.
If you need additional relief consider using D.A.P in addition to the Thundershirt or by itself some dogs respond well to this product. D.A.P is dog appeasing pheromone which is comforting to a dog. It is a pheromone that the mom would release when nursing puppies and therefore that provides comfort to a pet during these stressful times. They make D.A.P collars that pets can wear; otherwise it comes in a spray or a diffuser.
If the Thundershirt does not work or you need additional relief, then your pet may need anxiety medications. Some people think it’s normal that their pet is terrified or think they just need to deal with the storm. But in reality not every dog is afraid of storms and fireworks and it is not fair for a dog to be anxious during these times. Think about the last time you were so afraid of something that you were shaking or wanted to hide. Some pets will get so nervous that they may pose a threat to themselves, especially if they are home alone during this time. Pets may try to escape or self-injure. So if your pet is anxious consider talking to your doctor about options that fit your pet and your lifestyle.
Don’t forget that cats can also be afraid of thunderstorms and fireworks. They do have Thundershirts available for cats and they make a Feliway which is the equivalent to D.A.P but is used in cats. If you have any questions or concerns about either dogs or cats contact your veterinarian.
I hope these tips are helpful to you and your family!
Until next time,
Annie & Jaime Marietti, DVM
Stow Kent Animal Hospital
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