For many, summer conjures images of beaches, pool parties and generally a less stressful time of year, but to those people who have pets with anxiety, summer can actually be a MORE stressful time. The thunderstorms and fireworks that come along with summer can be a pet’s worst nightmare.
The signs of anxiety can vary from shaking and hiding under the covers, to destroying their surroundings and potentially causing harm to themselves. Thankfully veterinary medicine has advanced over the years to help these patients. Medicines, like Trazadone, can be given earlier in the day if a triggering event is due to come and has very little side effects. Older medicines, like acepromazine, often cause sedation and need to be administered at the time of the event.
Also, items like Thundershirts, have come on the market and have been useful to many anxious pets, especially those who cannot take any medications. As my last dog got older, he became anxious with storms and beeping noises. He’d never been anxious as a young dog, but dogs developing anxiety at an older age is a common phenomenon. When a storm came, he would wedge himself between the toilet and the bathtub – definitely not enough room for a 60-pound dog. I bought him a Thundershirt and, while it didn’t make him 100% better, it took the edge off of the anxiety and I was able to avoid giving him additional medications.
If the anxiety is mild, another idea is to keep your furry friend in a quiet room during the event, maybe with a TV playing or white noise, where they will feel safe. Taking your dog for a long walk before the event begins may also help ease their anxiety.
Just like every person is different, every pet is different. What works for one may not work for the next, but, thankfully now, we have multiple options to help. If the anxiety is severe enough, seeing a board certified veterinary behaviorist (this is a veterinarian who did extra schooling to specialize in only behavior) may be a necessity. Rocky Gorge Animal Hospital has 2 veterinarians who are not board certified, but have a strong interest in behavioral medicine. You can also ask your regular veterinarian about options to keep your pet calm during the summer months.
Rocky Gorge hopes you have a wonderful, safe summer and know that we are always here if you need us.