A big part of our summers here in Alberta are watching the crazy thunderstorms that take place! Unfortunately, for many pets, this can be a terrifying experience. There are several measures we can take to ensure our pets have the least stressful experience possible.
Thundershirts act as a calming mechanism that can help ease your pet’s anxiety, during times of stress. The shirt is designed to fit very snuggly to calm the animal. Imagine how a good hug can ease our stress and anxiety, the same concept is being applied to the use of a Thundershirt. When a storm is forecasted, we will put our very own clinic cat, Carrots, into his thunder shirt since he is terrified of storms!
Ensuring your pet has a place to go that they can feel safe during a storm can make a huge difference in your pet’s experience. Whether this is a bedroom, the basement, or a safe place on the couch, get your pet into the routine of heading to this place, when they are feeling anxious or afraid. Using our example of Carrots again, once we realized he needed a safe place to hide, we made him a thunder cave. This is just a kennel with the door taken off with fluffy blankets inside. We placed it in a dark, quiet area that he previously hid in, so he already feels safe there. We introduced it before a storm, so that he knew it was there and now he puts himself in there whenever he feels the need to hide from a storm.
There are also a couple over the counter products that can be used as an aid to control your pet’s anxiety; specifically, Feliway for cats, and Adaptil for dogs. These products secrete pheromones to help calm your pet. Feliway is available in a spray or diffuser, whereas Adaptil is available in a spray, diffuser and collar. These products can be used for many other stressful situations as well. We use them in the clinic ourselves, when we know someone needs a little extra stress relief.
Lastly, some prescription products can be discussed with your veterinarian to help ease your pet’s anxiety. These can be used as an adjunct to other methods of calming and hopefully, not as the sole method of controlling your pet’s anxiety. The details and options of these can be discussed with your veterinary health team.
Written by Jessica Sirovyak, RAHT