*THUNDERSTORM SEASON is here…and that means many of our beloved pets will be anxious and afraid of the lightning and thunder that is associated with these storms. And before you know it FIREWORKS SEASON will be here too with more scary noises.
*FEAR OF THUNDERSTORMS can be demonstrated by pacing, panting, trembling, drooling, whining, howling, destruction, and trying to hide or escape.
*Symptoms can range from MILD ANXIETY to SEVERE PHOBIA
*A Thundershirt can be PART of a helpful behavior modification plan to help relieve some of the anxiety associated with thunderstorm fears.
*ALWAYS start by introducing the Thundershirt at a time when there are NO ACTUAL THUNDERSTORMS OCCURRING. Show your dog wonderful things happen when the shirt is on, offer special treats or do something your dog really enjoys when he first tries out the shirt. This will properly condition your dog to the shirt and allow him to create a positive emotional response to wearing it.
*NEVER put the Thundershirt on your dog for the first time in the midst of a real thunderstorm.
*Begin by introducing the Thundershirt during a quiet, restful period, such as at the end of the day when everyone is settled and relaxed. You may want to start by just placing the Thundershirt over your pet, but not actually putting it on him. Let him get used to the sound of the Velcro opening and closing. Offer tasty treats when putting the Thundershirt on your dog for the first several times, and keep the sessions brief and calm.
*Soon your dog will associate the wearing of the Thundershirt with positive, calm feelings, so that when an actual thunderstorm occurs, the Thundershirt may help decrease his anxiety and give him a sense of extra security.
*When used properly in conjunction with other components of a behavior modification plan, a Thundershirt can be a helpful part of Desensitizing and Counter-Conditioning for anxiety in storms.
Schedule an appointment with us to learn more about treating your pet for thunderstorm and fireworks fear. We will tailor a plan specifically for your pet's special needs.
Thundershirts are available for sale at Deer Run and we can assist you with the proper fit!
PART 2 of THUNDERSTORM & FIREWORKS DISTRESS
** “PHEROMONATHERAPY” --A unique method to help decrease fear in the noise phobic pet!! **
We all know dogs use their noses for communication. A pheromone is a substance released into the ...environment by an animal that affects the behavior or physiology of others in its own species. Pheromones are perceived through a specific action that is actually a bit different than just smelling an odor.
** Dog Appeasing Pheromone or DAP is a pheromone naturally produced by the mammary glands of nursing mother dogs. The DAP sends a message to puppies that gives them a sense of well-being and reassurance.
**Research has been conducted on a synthetically produced copy of DAP called ADAPTIL. These studies have demonstrated that Adaptil can send this same message of safety and security to dogs suffering from anxiety and noise phobia.
**ADAPTIL is a product that can be purchased as a room diffusor (similar to a Glade-Plug in), a spray, or as a collar for the dog to wear.
**ADAPTIL is often a helpful addition to the treatment plan for dogs with storm & fireworks fear. Although the pheromone scent is not detected by humans, many dogs respond very positively to this easy to use calming therapy!
**WHAT ABOUT CATS? They can have fireworks fear too!! And yes, they have their own unique pheromones! A feline pheromone product called FELIWAY mimics the facial pheromones that cats use to mark a “friendly hello” when they rub on other cats, people or things with their faces. The Feliway pheromone sends a message of calmness and contentment. It also comes as a room diffusor or as a spray to help calm and de-stress cats!
**Check out this post from the CEVA, the developer of Adaptil & Feliway, for more tips and to view a video to learn more about using Adaptil.
**Try some ADAPTIL or FELIWAY for your noise phobic pets this year! They work best if started a few weeks before these scary events occur.
**Both Adaptil & Feliway products are available at Deer Run Animal Hospital. Ask us about our great coupons for them too!
**PART 3 OF THUNDERSTORM & FIREWORKS DISTRESS
"If I comfort my pet during a storm, won't I be reinforcing the fear??"
**Many people have heard this MYTH: "If you pet your dog during a thunderstorm, you will be rewarding the anxious behav...ior! You should just ignore your dog when he is acting scared!"
**FEAR IS AN EMOTION--NOT A BEHAVIOR!
If you were nervous about going to the dentist, would you want your best friend to ignore your concerns and disregard your worries, or would it help you feel a bit better to have that friend by your side during the procedure, comforting you, holding your hand, telling you a funny story, and distracting you from what is going on around you?
**However…You COULD reinforce the fearful behavior IF you act anxious too! For example, if your child is nervous about riding Space Mountain at Disney World, and you are also afraid of roller coasters, so you nervously chatter at him, "Oh, you're so right! That roller coaster is the scariest coaster EVER! It's too fast! And in the dark! And you"ll feel like you're going to fall out at any moment! I don't blame you one bit for being afraid!"…then you are encouraging or helping to perpetuate that fear.
**YOU CAN HELP YOUR PET FEEL BETTER during a storm by encouraging them to LIE DOWN OR SNUGGLE in a calm, quiet space and by SPEAKING TO THEM in soft, SLOW, low, long tones. Don't quickly say it's "OK" to them when it is clearly not, but do sound safe & reassuring. Let your soft low tones & voice send a calm message that tells your pet that you are there for them.
*Many Dogs Try To HIDE during a thunderstorm. This is an absolutely natural behavior and an attempt to g...et away from the scary event and protect themselves from something they cannot understand.
**It is highly recommended by many veterinary behaviorists to encourage your anxious dog to have a SAFE ZONE that provides quiet and comfort during a storm.
**You can allow your dog to choose a place that already seems to work for him, or find a convenient location that works for everyone.
**Set up a comfortable crate, pile blankets into a bathtub, or make a COZY CAVE out of a bedroom closet. The location should be in a low-traffic area, preferably with muffled acoustics, familiar beloved toys, and privacy.
**Practice makes perfect! Teach your dog to love this place on calm quiet days by spending time with your dog there and offering special treats. Help your dog develop a habit of seeking quiet and solitude in this safe haven before storms and fireworks come.
**Having access to a COZY CAVE that provides comfort to your thunderstorm phobic pet allows your pet to feel less anxious even when you are not at home!
**You are not always able to predict when a storm will arrive, but if your pet has learned COPING MECHANISMS that he can use even if you are at work or away from your home, then much of the anxiety can be relieved.
**PART 5 OF THUNDERSTORM & FIREWORKS DISTRESS**
**CONSIDER SOUND THERAPY!** ...
**Psychoacoustic research has found that certain music can be soothing to both dogs and cats. You might think all you have to do is turn on the classical music station but there is a bit more to it.
Research has shown that solo piano music with the right tempo can reduce anxiety for dogs suffering from noise phobias and for those with separation anxiety, travel anxiety, re-homing anxiety and in many other situations. The right music can even reduce stress in animal shelters.
When dogs are under extreme distress and fear there are physiologic changes that happen in their body that make it difficult for them to learn new behaviors and change their emotions.
Did you know there are techniques to teach dogs to actually slow their respirations and lower their heart rate to help them calm?
Teaching these techniques must be done during quiet times well before noise events occur. They can take some time to teach and we recommend working with a reward based trainer to learn them.
RELAXATION ON A MAT--This is not about obedience training or a cue to go to a place! This is about conditioning a positive emotional response to a safe place. But the good thing about mats is that they can be portable!! Your dog's Mat of safety can go for car rides, go to the vet, go to grandma's house for Christmas, and be a safe haven when storms brew or fireworks blast!
TAKING A DEEP BREATH! Yes your dog can learn to do this! Taking a deep breath helps slow respiration, delivers oxygen to your brain and helps slow the heart rate! Here is a video example of dog taught the technique via clicker training.