It’s that time of the year again. For many pet owners, storm season marks the beginning of a six-month period of daily panic attacks suffered by our beloved pets. If you share your life with one of these pets, you know the routine: shaking, panting, pacing, drooling, and lack of appetite, just to name a few. Here are some suggestions to help our furry friends weather the storms.
Charlie is a Hurricane Katrina survivor. His anxiety drives him to seek shelter from perceived flood danger by jumping on the dining room table.
DAP Collars and Diffusers
Short for Dog Appeasing Pheromone, DAP is a synthetic compound that mimics the scent of a lactating mother dog. The smell is undetectable to humans, yet helps dogs achieve a sense of comfort and security. These devices have been used successfully by veterinary behaviorists, and are most effective when used in conjunction with behavioral training.
The Thundershirt http://www.thundershirt.com This is a snug-fitting pet shirt that reduces the effects of anxiety by applying gentle, constant pressure.
The Storm Defender Cape http://www.stormdefender.com/how_it_works.htm This cute red cape is lined with a material that reduces sensitivity to the static charge that precedes and accompanies a thunderstorm. An increase in static is undetectable by humans. Dogs, however, sense this change, which acts as the first trigger to a full-blown panic attack. As the dog gets relief from the static, he begins to learn that secondary triggers such as rain, thunder and wind are no longer to be feared. It may take two or three wearings during a storm to reach maximum efficacy. For more information, visit www.stormdefender.com, or call (513) 931-2175. Several of our clients are using the Storm Defender Cape and have reported very positive results.
Anti-Anxiety Medications There are several anti-anxiety medications available that can help dogs deal with storm phobia. They must be given on a daily basis during storm season, as they need to accumulate in the body, and do not take effect quickly enough to provide immediate relief. Veterinary medicine is moving away from the use of sedatives such as Acepromazine, as they merely immobilize the body without calming the anxious mind. Please call our office to find out if these medications are appropriate for your pet.
Behavioral Training Finally and most importantly, all of the previously mentioned tools are designed to be used in conjunction with behavioral training. Our dogs need to see us as confident leaders in the face of perceived danger. Click on the picture to the right to learn more about our Pet Behavior Program offered with K9 Advisors. Medications and training devices alone are not enough to conquer storm anxiety.
CLICK ON THIS LINK TO BE TAKEN TO K9 ADVISOR'S WEBSITE!
If you plan to bring a new dog or puppy into your life, you can help prevent storm anxiety in the future by having storm parties! When our Dachshund Grendel was a puppy, we would bring her into our screened, covered porch and play games with her during storms.
We ran her through basic obedience drills (sit, stay, come, wait, etc.) to reinforce our positions as leaders and help her to develop confidence. We made sure to have lots of fun and were generous with verbal and food rewards.
To this day Grendel sleeps soundly through storms, except on the rare occasion when she actually watches the chaos from a window!
Storm Anxiety in Cats While most anxious cats will simply hide during a storm, there are some cats who manifest storm anxiety by urinating or defacating in inappropriate places in the house. For these cats, FelAway diffusers work in the same manner as DAP collars by simulating feline pheremones. Anti-anxiety medications can also be effective for these cats.
Please do not hesitate to call our office for additional tips on weathering the storms!