Thunderstorm Anxiety and What To Do
Thunderstorm anxiety is a problem for many dogs, and indeed thunderstorm season continues only for a short time for many dogs but it’s year-round for much of the country. And when dogs are better at predicting weather than the National Weather Service, you know you have a problem. And the fear may be called thunderstorm anxiety, but many dogs are just as terrified of wind/rain events, such as tropical storms or hurricanes.
I speak with veterinary behaviorist Dr. Debra Horwitz on my national Steve Dale’s Pet World radio show about thunderstorm anxiety.
Horwitz talks about some of the options which can help. They include the Thundershirt and other wraps, as well as Adaptil, a copy of a calming pheromone to help dogs feel more comfortable in their environment.
Nutraeuticals are plant-based products – landing somewhere between nutritional supplements and pharmaceuticals:
Zentrol, a nutraeutical, has been shown to reduce stress related behaviors in less than 60 minutes. The chewable tablets are composed of novel natural ingredients, Souroubea spp, containing betulinic acid, and Platanus spp.
Another nutraeutical, Zylkene, is a milk-based product which has been shown to lower anxiety in some dogs.
For some dogs just providing one or two of the above products and a comfortable dark place to hide, with window shades shut and white noise up is enough to do the trick until the storm passes. Some dogs may even be distracted with games and or treats. But distracting for an entire storm, and insuring people are home may not be realistic.
Other dogs, those who are inconsolable, do require true anti-anxiety medication. Horwitz suggests for these dogs that is indeed the most humane approach.
Horwitz (with Dr. John Ciribassi and myself) address this issue in a book we co-edited, authored by members of the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists, called Decoding Your Dog.