Monsoon season is here and with it comes some exciting weather including sudden storms accompanied by thunder, lightning, blowing dust, and noisy rainfall. For some pets this can be very scary. I have a dog that is very storm-phobic, and during a sudden hailstorm he jumped over our backyard block wall. Luckily, my neighbor was kind enough to catch him and call me. With this personal experience, I just wanted to share some of the ways we can help our pets be less stressed during these storms. Not everything works for every pet, so it ends up being a trial and error process. It is also recommended to do behavioral modification to help change behavior, prior to the actual event.
1.Thundershirt : A tight-fitting Velcro “coat” that mimics being swaddled. For some pets, this is comforting, and they lay down and sleep with one on.
2.Alprazolam/Xanax: This is a human anti-anxiety drug that is quickly absorbed and calms down some pets. It is only lightly sedating, and lasts 4-6 hours. (In my dog, he looks like he has just had a beer!) Unfortunately in some pets it has the opposite reaction, so it would be good to try this one out, ahead of time. We also use this medication in cats for inappropriate elimination behavior. There is a range with the dosage, so some pets will require a higher dose (we usually start low, and increase if needed).
3.Prozac (fluoxetine) is often used for longer term, constant anxiety instead of Alprazolam/Xanax. It can be used in dogs or cats. It is a heavier human anti-anxiety drug, and it takes 4-6 weeks to have an effect on the pet.
4.Zylkene: A newer neutraceuetical that is a palatable oral powder and can be used for short term or longer term anxiety. It can be used for both dogs and cats. It is a capsule with powder that can be mixed into food or liquids. It may take 4-6 weeks to have a calming effect.
5.Acepromazine: This is a heavy sedative that we have used for years, for pets for traveling, and it is FDA approved. It doesn’t really help with anxiety, just makes them tired.
6. Trazadone: A human drug (anti-depressant) that can be used in small animals for anxiety. It helps to calm them down. It seems to be well-tolerated, but we don’t havewell controlled studies using it; most information is anecdotal.
7.DAP Collars & Diffusers: Dog Appeasing Pheromone. It comes I three forms:
a. In a diffuser to dispel the pheromone into a small room.
b. In a collar, that gives off the pheromone throughout the day.
c.In a spray that can be sprayed onto a small towel or blanket.
The DAP is useful in reducing fear and anxiety, in some pets.
We are also very blessed in Phoenix to have an amazing veterinary behaviorist, Dr. Kelly Moffat. She would be a very helpful reference if your pet has severe anxiety.