The Ugly Truth About Heartworm Disease

heartworm 2
We talk a lot about Heartworm infection. We urge to you keep your pet on preventives and to test for evidence of heartworm infection year after year after year. The problem is, what we really need to talk about is Heartworm Disease. It is the shadow in the room that both frightens and motivates us. Continue…

Is Your Pet Ready for Spring

  • Is your pet current on vaccines? 

    • Dogs: Rabies, Distemper, Leptospirosis, Parainfluenza, Parvovirus, Hepatitis and if there is a concern, Bordetella and Lyme.

    • Cats: Rabies, Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis, Calici virus, Panleukopenia and where there is a concern, Feline Leukemia.

    • Exotics: Rabies and other vaccines recommended by your veterinarian.

  • Has your pet had their Heartworm or Feline leukemia Tests.

  • Are your pet’s current on their parasite testing and protection?

    • Dogs: Intestinal and Heartworm prevention

    • Cats: Intestinal and yes, Heartworm prevention

    • Exotics: Absolutely, intestinal parasite prevention

  • Has your pet been spayed or neutered?

    • Spring is the time for love and that cute kitten or puppy you got around Christmas is ready for reproduction.  Are you?

  • Have you cleaned up the rodenticide that you put out last fall? 

    • You may have forgotten about any poisons you put out in the fall but rest assured your pet will find them. 

    • Accidental poisoning is a common and preventable year round problem

  • Properly dispose of antifreeze when you drain your radiator.

    • This deadly poison takes lives every spring.

  • Once the snow melts check your yard for items that could be hazardous to your pet.

    • Glass, nails and other items can become buried in the snow and forgotten.  Be sure to do a sweep of your yard every spring.

  • Mend your fences.

    • Fences can be damaged over the winter and it may not be visible until the snow melts.  Check gate latches as well.

  • Did your pet slow down over the winter?  Spring is a great time to work on getting winter weight off.  The great news is it works for both of you.

    • Start any exercise program slowly and watch your pet for signs of arthritis or injuries that may go unnoticed during the sedentary winter months.

  • Don’t forget the leash!  Everybody has cabin fever by the end of winter.  Make sure your pet is safely under leash and not able to follow the urge to wander.

How safe is Your Backyard?

 

We all try to keep our pets as safe as possible.  We keep them leashed anytime we are away from home. We feed them the best food we can provide. We keep their shots and worming current, we train them, and we love them.   When we’re home they play safely in our fenced backyards.

How about that yard? Is it safe?  When was the last time you took a good look around your back yard with the safety of your pet in mind?  We recommend that you do it every spring and fall. What should you be checking for?  Listed below are some of the hazards that could harm your pet.

The Mulch Pile:       

The backyard mulch pile can be a very attractive and very dangerous place for your pet. Going green is great as long as you do it safely. We recommend that your mulch pile be securely fenced and pet proof.

  1. Mycotoxins   which are found in moldy items like breads, cheese and dog food can make your dog seriously ill.  Signs can range from vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal tenderness to seizures and permanent liver damage.   
  2. Hops used in home brewing can kill your pet if ingested in even small amounts.  The danger is present both before and after brewing.  Signs are panting, rapid heart rate and a rapid increase in body temperature to the point of death.
  3. Macadamia nuts can cause ataxia (lack of coordination), anxiety, increased heart rate, tremors and temporary paralysis. 
  4. Grapes, mushrooms, onions, garlic, tomato plants, black locust tree pods and seeds, any sugar free products containing Xylitol and coffee grounds are all dangerous for your pets as well.  If your pet ingests any of these items call poison control and your veterinarian.

The Backyard Pool:

We all know how attractive and dangerous a pool is to small children but it can be just as deadly to your pets.

 1.   Drowning is an obvious risk to both pets and children. Both may fall in and be unable to get out. 

2.   Pool Chemicals can make your pet very sick. Animals are curious and will often taste whatever happens to be lying around.  Ingesting pool chemicals can cause vomiting, breathing difficulty, seizures and loss of consciousness. 

Poisonous Plants:

Be cognizant of what you plant.  ASPCA poison Control has a complete list of plants that are toxic to animals.  Please visit www.aspca.org/petcare/poisoncontrol/plants for the complete list.  Plants can cause everything from local irritation and drooling to seizures and death. 

Other Animals:

Your first thought may be other aggressive animals.   However, skunks, raccoons and possums can carry infectious diseases that can make you and your pet sick. This is why we preach vaccinate, vaccinate, vaccinate!  It’s also a good idea not to feed your pets outdoors which is a sure way attract local wildlife.

  1. Rabies is carried by skunks, raccoons and bats and they all frequent back yards. 
  2. Leptospirosis is transmitted through the urine of infected animals and can be transmitted to people and pets.
  3. Baylisascaris is a parasite that is harmless to Raccoons but deadly to humans due to its propensity to travel to our brains and wreak havoc.
  4. Bites and wounds and infections can occur if your dog or cat tries to defend their home turf from raccoons and other wildlife.
  5. Predation is an unpleasant prospect whether is happens to your pet or your unwelcome visitors. 

Fertilizers, Herbicides and Pesticides:

  1. Read your labels and use chemicals accordingly.  Wait until chemicals are dry or as long as the directions indicate before allowing your pet back in the yard.
  2. Cover any food or water dishes before spraying.  Don’t forget the bird bath.
  3. Store all chemicals safely and out of reach.  Keep the original containers just in case you have an accidental exposure.
  4. Keep slug bait, rat poison and gopher bait well away from any place your pet can reach. Call your veterinarian and/or poison control if you even think your pet may ingested any of these products.
  5. Try to find a natural, poison free alternative whenever possible.

Children:

Dare we say it?  Children are immature, impulsive and often lacking in judgment. 

  1. Kids may think teasing your pet through the fence is fun but the end result may be an over stimulated, aggressive dog and bitten children.  Nobody wants a barking, fence running dog for a neighbor no matter how the behavior was started.
  2. Children may throw food or other objects over the fence that can harm your pet.  It’s a good idea to run a fence check frequently in warm months.
  3. Jumping dogs can catch a collar on the fence top and choke to death.  Yes it happens.
  4. Small pets can be injured and even killed by over enthusiastic and unsupervised children.  Again, yes it happens.
  5. Finally, no matter how safe you keep your yard, it doesn’t matter if your kids forget to close and latch the gate.

This isn’t a complete list of the potential dangers in the backyard jungle but hopefully we’ve got you thinking about pet proofing your property.   Feel free to call us or contact through our web site or face book with any questions.

Pet Obesity-Are We Loving Our Pets to Death?

 

Has the U.S. become the nation of too much?  When it comes to weight, yes we have!   Pet obesity has become a huge, no pun intended, health issue for both dogs and cats in this country.

How to Tell if Your Pet is Over Weight

1)    Run your hands down the side of your pet with medium pressure.  You should be able to feel ribs under a thin layer of subcutaneous fat.  If you can’t your pet is probably too heavy.

2)    If you feel your pet is too heavy bring them in for a more precise body measurement.  This set of measurements can determine exactly how over weight your pet is and what a good target weight is.

Causes of Obesity

1)    Sometimes obesity is just a matter of too much food and too little activity. 

2)    However, obesity can also be rooted in other issues. 

  •      Hypothyroidism
  •      Cushing’s Disease
  •      Diabetes:  Diabetes can be caused by too much weight but can also be the                 cause of weight gain if an animal develops non-insulin dependent diabetes.  Confusing but ultimately weight loss will help both.
  •     Any disease process that affects the hypothalamus or pituitary gland:  The hypothalamus regulates appetite and the pituitary gland regulates most hormone production in the body.
  •   Breed:  Beagles, Labs, Bassets, Cattle dogs, Cockers, Chihuahuas, Dachshunds, Golden Retrievers and most cats to name a few.
  •   Age: Just like us as pets age their metabolic rate slows and the tendency to become over weight increases.
  • Neutering and Spaying: When they are not hormone driven animals will put on weight more easily.  That said the benefits of altering your pet far outweigh the negatives.
  •  Activity level:  Too many pets spend all their time inside with too little activity.  This is a particular challenge for cat owners.
  • Food quality:  The quality of food we feed has improved.  Pets need less to stay fit and healthy.  Conversely if you have a finicky pet who has trained you to only feed them high caloric “junk food” they will quickly become overweight.
  •     Medications:  Glucocorticoids, Anti-seizure drugs and  tranquilizers can all contribute to weight gain.

 Health risks associated with obesity

1)    Diabetes:   When food intake and body mass out strip the body’s ability to make insulin, Diabetes Mellitus develops.

2)     Heart and blood pressure disease:  The heart has to work much harder in overweight pets.  That leads directly to high blood pressure and heart disease.

3)    Bone/Joint damage:  Extra weight leads to increased stress on bones and ligaments. Almost all of our cruciate repairs could use a little weight loss.

4)    Respiratory problems:  Too much fat makes for a greater work load and puts extra pressure on the lungs and trachea. If you own a dog or cat with a shortened, also known as brachycephalic, facial structure this can cause serious health problems.  Likewise, many of our collapsing trachea dogs show improvement with weight loss.

5)    Increased anesthetic risk:  What happens if you have a lot of fat and your anesthetic is fat soluble?  You wake up more slowly.  How much harder is it to perform surgery in an abdomen that is full of fat?  A lot harder.  Has obesity been shown to decrease resistance to bacteria?  Yes.

6)    Decreased lifespan and quality of life:  Everything mentioned above will shorten your pets’ life.  It will also seriously impinge on their ability to enjoy the life they have.

On the next blog we will talk about strategies for weight loss.

THE SHOCKING DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE COST OF PREVENTING PARASITES AND TREATING THEM.

 

Heartworm/Flea Prevention

 

DOG #1:  10 pound Dachshund:

Heartgard up to 25#  12 DOSES $79.54  
Frontline up to 22#  6 + 2 free $127.54  
Discount   -$25.00  
Rebate   -$12.00  
+/- Heartworm Test     $47.51
Total cost  

$184.58

$269.09

Trifexis 10.1–20#  12 doses $224.84  
Rebate   -$25.00  
+/- Heartworm test     $47.51
Total Cost

 

$215.58

$288.09

Heartworm Treatment

Initial examination   $49.76  
Pretreatment Laboratory   $115.74  
Pretreatment Radiographs   $178.29  
Pretreatment Medications   $29.39  
Immiticide Treatment   $107.39  
Post Heartworm test   $47.51  
Hospitalization 3 days   $128.97  
+/-  Pretreatment ECG     $173.43
Total cost  

$659.11

$832.54

Intestinal Parasite Treatment

Intestinal Parasite Screen   $31.52  
Panacur 1 gram  (Rounds, Whips, Hooks) 2 treatments $22.48  
Cestex  ( Tapeworms)   $36.92  
Post Parasite Screen   $31.52  
Mycodex Premise Spray  fleas present $36.92  
Total Cost

 

$143.70

 

DOG #2: 50# Golden:

 

 

Heartgard 26-50#  12 DOSES $102.58  
Frontline 45-88#  6 + 2 free $127.54  
Discount   -$25.00  
Rebate   -$12.00  
+/- Heartworm Test     $47.51
Total cost  

$206.27

$290.78

Trifexis 40.1-60#  12 doses $237.08  
Rebate   -$25.00  
+/- Heartworm test     $47.51
Total Cost  

$228.68

$301.19

Heartworm Treatment

Initial examination   $49.76  
Pretreatment Laboratory   $115.74  
Pretreatment Radiographs   $178.29  
Pretreatment Medications   $38.77  
Immiticide Treatment   $658.07  
Post Heartworm test   $47.51  
Hospitalization 3 days   $128.97  
+/-  Pretreatment ECG     $173.43
Total cost

 

$1,219.83

$1,393.26

 

Intestinal Parasite Treatment

Intestinal Parasite Screen   $31.52  
Panacur 1 gram  (Rounds, Whips, Hooks) 2 treatments $22.48  
Panacur 4 gram  (Rounds, Whips, Hooks) 2 treatments $47.82  
Cestex  ( Tapeworms)   $36.92  
Post Parasite Screen   $31.52  
Mycodex Premise Spray  fleas present $36.92  
Total Cost

 

$233.24

 

DOG #3: 90# Great Pyrenees:

 

Heartgard 50-100#  12 DOSES $123.10  
Frontline 45-88#  6 + 2 free $127.54  
Discount   -$25.00  
Rebate   -$12.00  
+/- Heartworm Test     $47.51
Total cost

 

$231.19

$315.70

Trifexis 60.1-120#  12 doses $245.36  
Rebate   -$25.00  
+/- Heartworm test     $47.51
Total Cost

 

$237.54

$310.05

Heartworm Treatment

Initial examination   $49.76  
Pretreatment Laboratory   $115.74  
Pretreatment Radiographs   $178.29  
Pretreatment Medications   $58.75  
Immiticide Treatment   $1,116.97  
Post Heartworm test   $47.51  
Hospitalization 3 days   $128.97  
+/-  Pretreatment ECG     $173.43
Total cost  

$1,700.10

$1,873.53

Intestinal Parasite Treatment

Intestinal Parasite Screen   $31.52  
Panacur 1 gram  (Rounds, Whips, Hooks) 2 treatments $63.04  
Panacur 4 gram  (Rounds, Whips, Hooks) 2 treatments $90.64  
Cestex  ( Tapeworms)   $36.92  
Post Parasite Screen   $31.52  
Mycodex Premise Spray  fleas present $36.92  
Total Cost  

$313.16

 

 

Summary

 

Prevention

Treat Heartworm

Treat Intestinal Worms

10# Dog

$215.58-$288.09

$659.11-$832.54

$143.70

50# Dog

$206.27-$290.78

$1219.83-1393.26

$233,24

90# Dog

$231.19-$315.70

$1700.10-$1873.53

$313.16

 

The real question is why would you not

prevent???????

 

The Importance of Pain Management

 

No one likes to feel pain.  Pain can be good when it keeps us from doing things that will harm our bodies but untreated pain is never good.  There was a time when people believed that animals did not feel pain on the same level as humans.  Fortunately we now understand that this is not the case at all.  Animals feel pain in much the same way as we do. If you think something would be painful for you, it is most likely painful to your pet as well.

What animals do is mask pain.  In the wild the organism that shows pain becomes lunch.  Unfortunately, that very stoicism, if unrecognized, can lead to increased suffering for our pets.  As veterinarians and owners, it becomes our job then to ensure that our pets receive adequate pain management. Good pain control is good medicine.  It is an integral part of patient management at Animal Family.

Why is pain control so important? Uncontrolled, pain affects not only the well being but the behavior, health and longevity of our pets.  How so?

  • Pain prolongs recovery time from surgery, injury or illness.
  • It may cause arthritic cats to urinate or defecate outside the box. Sadly, this may be mislabeled as a behavior problem resulting in euthanasia.
  • It can lead to maladaptive pain.  That is pain which is caused by things that are not normally painful.  An example would be the older dog or cat which bites when a child attempts to pet them.It can cause self mutilation. An animal may lick or chew at a body part unrelentingly creating even further damage.
  • It may cause weight loss due to oral or body pain.
  • Pets may be unwilling to groom and take care of their coat due to pain.
  • A previously active animal may become listless.  It may simply be too painful to move.
  • A pet can become constipated due to an inability to posture and defecate normally.
  • Pain may precipitate pacing and restlessness. A behavior that may be misinterpreted as nervousness.
  • Pain can cause aggression towards other animals.  An animal which anticipates pain may strike preemptively at a housemate

As owners and veterinarians we must make recognition of pain a priority. It is important to watch your pet carefully for the subtle signs of discomfort or distress. Our new golden rule must be to never allow our pet to remain in pain because we have simply become used to seeing them that way seeing them that way. Watch for changes in behavior and talk it over with your veterinarian. Then as a team you can work to make your pet’s life not only longer but happier.

Taking the Mystery Out of Pilling Your Pet

 

A while back there was a particularly funny e-mail circulating about pilling a cat.  What made us laugh was the rather large kernel of truth within the humor.  Who hasn’t experienced the frustrations of trying to get a pill inside your pet first hand…only to have it end up on the floor or wall.  This is a rerun of an earlier post but we could all use the refresher.

The easiest and most time honored way to give a pill remains hiding it in something else If you can get your pet to take a pill this way and he/she is not on any food restriction this is still the best method.  One of our favorites at Animal Family is Pill Pockets made by Greenies.  They are a meat flavored soft treat that molds around the pill.  A large number of both dogs and cats will happily take their medications in a Pill Pocket.  Other choices are peanut butter, cheese, yogurt and canned food.  Just make sure your pet doesn’t spit the medication out.

If your pet either won’t eat a hidden pill or eats around it, you may have to do it the old fashioned way.  Even then, it is possible to make the process easier.

  • Make sure your pet is in a safe area.  For dogs we recommend either having their butt in a corner where they can’t back away.  Small dogs and cats should be placed on a counter or other raised surface.
  • Stand to the side of your pet.  Cats and small dogs should be placed in the crook of your elbow.  Don’t approach your pet from the front. 
  • Coating the pill with butter will give it a slippery and yummy tasting coating.
  • Tilt your pets head back.  For large dogs you may just place your fingers behind the canines and pull upward.  A gentle squeeze at the corner of the jaws works best for smaller pets.
  • Once their mouth is open you will need to get the pill far back in the mouthThis is the scary part for most owners so we recommend that you use a pet piller.  This can literally take the bite out of pilling.
  • In one smooth motion, place the piller so the tip is at the back of the mouth and depress the plunger to release the medication.
  • Leaving the head tilted backwards, immediately close your pet’s mouth and blow into their nose.  Return the head to a normal position and gently rub the throat until you see swallowing…  Be careful not to get in your pet’s face.  Make sure you are above and to the side or back of the pet’s mouth when you blow.  If your pet is aggressive…don’t get close to his/her face.
  • Make sure your pet has swallowed before releasing him/herLook for swallowing or licking of the lips.

What happens if your pet is like the cat in the funny e-mail?  If you absolutely can’t get pills down your pet there is another option…Compounding.  Most medications can be compounded into taste tabs, liquid suspensions or topical gels.  It may involve some additional cost but can be a life saver with a non-cooperative animal.  Be sure to ask your veterinarian especially is your pet is on maintenance medications

Remember, if you don’t feel confident, please don’t attempt this without help from your veterinarian.

Marijauna Toxicity in Pets

 

The following is a reprint from Promed which is part of International Society for Infectious Diseases.  With increased accetance of medical marijuana, it is important that owners  understand that  it can have a profoundly different affect on their pets than it does on them.

The popularity of medical marijuana in Colorado has had an unintended

side effect .  Dogs are getting stoned, sometimes with deadly results.

Some people firmly believe that if medical marijuana helps people, it

also helps their pets, but that’s not always the case. Marijuana can

be harmful and sometimes toxic for dogs.   New research shows that with

medical marijuana, the number of dogs getting sick from pot is

spiking.

Animals exposed to marijuana demonstrate neurological signs including

depression or alternating depression and excitement, falling

over/incoordination, hallucinations with barking or agitation,

seizures or coma and death. About a third of exposed animals will

demonstrate gastrointestinal signs such as vomiting, diarrhea, dry

mouth, or drooling. The body temperature can be high or low, rapid

breathing with a heart rate that may be too rapid or too slow, dilated

pupils, and they may leak urine. These clinical signs can develop

within minutes up to 3 hours after exposure. The drug may be

eliminated quickly (over several hours), but can be absorbed into fat

making signs last for up to 3-4 days.

“They basically have lost a lot of their fine motor control, they have

a wide-based stance and they are not sure on their feet,” said Dr.

Debbie Van Pelt of VRCC, the Veterinary Specialty and Emergency

Hospital in Englewood. Vets say they used to see dogs high on

marijuana just a few times a year. Now pet owners bring in doped-up

dogs as many as 5 times a week.

“There are huge spikes in the frequency of marijuana ingestion in

places where it’s become legal,” Van Pelt said. Colorado is one of

those places.

This is a serious situation for your animal. It is not funny, it is

actually cruel and can be fatal. If a human chooses to get stoned, or

high or use the product for medicinal value, that is the human being’s

choice. Dogs and cats do not think that way and do not understand what

is happening. Dogs are more often intoxicated or at least more often

brought to the veterinarian.

Most of the time veterinarians say dogs get the medical marijuana by

eating their owners food products that are laced with marijuana that

were left out in the open. More and more dispensaries sell those kinds

of products.

“I just want dogs, kids to be safe. It needs to be treated like any

other drug. If you came home with a prescription of vicodin from your

doctor you wouldn’t just leave it sitting there,” veterinarian Dr.

Stacy Meola said.

Meola is a veterinarian at a Wheat Ridge clinic. She coordinated a

5-year study that shows the number of dogs sickened by marijuana has

quadrupled in Colorado since medical marijuana was legalized. Most

dogs survive, but not all.

“Two dogs, however, got into baked goods with medical grade marijuana

butter in it, which presumably seems to be more toxic to the dogs, so

we did have 2 deaths,” Meola said.

That’s the exception. Most of the time the dogs will end up showing

signs such as staggering, acting lethargic, vomiting, and being overly

sensitive to sound and light. Sometimes they fall into a coma. It’s

the doggie equivalent of a “bad trip.” After treatment most are back

to normal within 24 hours.

While many dog owners think it’s funny to get their dogs stoned and

have posted videos of their stoned dogs, Colorado veterinarians say

there’s nothing funny about dogs on dope.

  This is a serious situation for your animal. It is not funny, it is

actually cruel and can be fatal. If a human chooses to get stoned, or

high or use the product for medicinal value, that is the human being’s

choice. Dogs and cats do not think that way and do not understand what

is happening. Dogs are more often intoxicated or at least more often

brought to the veterinarian.

“We need people to realize it is potentially toxic and potentially

fatal to their pets,” Van Pelt said.

Veterinarians say frequently when the sick dogs come in, their owners

are reluctant to admit medical marijuana might have been the cause.

They say if that’s a possible factor, tell the vet right away and they

can more quickly treat the dog.

It is important to get your pet treated as the clinical signs can be

Life-threatening and pets can and die from this substance.

Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease Complex (CIRDC)

 

A rose may be a rose by any other name but a cough…well a cough can be a lot of things.  Kennel Cough, Infectious Tracheobronchitis, Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease are all terms that are used interchangeably for CIRDC.  Do dogs with CIRDC always cough? Well… they frequently cough but not always. They may sneeze, have discharge from the eyes and nose, develop pneumonia or not show any signs at all. Some dogs may cough so hard that owners may confuse it with vomiting.  If you’re not sure watch this link. The causes of CIRDC are many and complicated and there are always new pathogens emerging.  Finally, CIRDC can be caused by more than one infectious agent.

Listed below are some of the pathogens that have been identified as major players in CIRDC.

 Currently identified viral agents include:

  • Parainfluenza virus  (vaccine available)
  • Adenovirus (vaccine available)
  • Canine respiratory corona virus
  • Canine herpes virus
  • Canine distemper virus (vaccine available)
  • Canine influenza virus (vaccine available)

 

Currently identified bacterial and other agents include:

  • Bordetella bronchiseptica (vaccine available)
  • Mycoplasma spp.
  • Streptococcus equi and zooepidemicus

 

Viruses and other infectious agents have been around for a long time and are highly successful organisms.  They spread easily and are frequently shed before any outward signs are evident. Once established in the respiratory tract secondary infection by other agents may also occur.  If that’s not enough, certain species can actually help each other infect your pet.  While vaccines are important in preventing CIRDC they unfortunately do not cover every pathogen that can cause disease.

When you think of CIRDC think of the colds your kids pick up at school and daycare. They can be spread by air and by physical contact. Interaction with other animals, stress, individual immune status, age, vaccine status and other factors can all play a role in development of CIRDC.

What’s the best way to manage CIRDC?  Most animals do best at home. If your dog begins coughing, call your veterinarian.  Coughing may be quite dramatic but in most cases it is self limiting. However, like a cold it can take a long time for symptoms to resolve on their own.   Each case is different and medications may be prescribed. Severe cases can cause pneumonia so any pet that appears to be in respiratory distress or is very lethargic should go to the clinic.  Once on the mend, please, don’t expose your dog to any other animals for a minimum of 7 days after all medication is finished and no symptoms are present.

 

How to Help Your Dog Cope with Scary Noises

 

We are well into the season of thunder storms and fireworks.  If you have a dog that is afraid of loud noises their fear can take much of the fun out of summer.  An anxious dog may cower, salivate, pace, hide, howl or even destroy furniture during storms. Finding ways to calm them can be difficult.

Fear is a normal response. It is what keeps us from being run over by a car or falling off a cliff.  In those cases fear acts as an adaptive response that aids in survival.  However, if fear keeps us from performing everyday tasks it is not normal. 

No one really knows for certain why some dogs become fearful and others do not.  Some breeds appear to be more prone to developing   phobias.  In other cases a past traumatic event may be linked to specific noises and act as a fear inducing stimuli.

What are some of the things you can do to help your dog cope with fearful situations?

1)    First, determine if your dog is afraid of the sounds or if there are other factors that comes into play.  Dogs with storm phobias may be reacting to stimuli such as the flashing lightning, static in the air, rainfall or the wind.

  • Try placing your dog a room without windows. Does this reduce anxiety?
  • Now try placing foam earplugs or cotton in your dog’s ears . If this seems to help the problem is more likely noise related.

 2)    Find a safe place for your dog.

  • Where does your dog gravitate when frightened?  Make sure that area is accessible during a storm or scary event.  It could be the basement, bathroom or under the bed. Do not put your dog in a crate unless that is their safe place.  Otherwise they could be injured trying to escape.

 3)    Try adding in white noise.  This could be music or even the television as long as it helps distract and/or cover up other scary sounds. Do not make it so loud that it becomes yet another source of anxiety for your pet.

4)    Try a thunder shirt.  These are wraps that are similar to a swaddling wrap that is used on infants. Your dog has complete freedom of movement but the pressure provides relief and comfort..

5)    Distract your dog with something pleasurable.  That may be  a favorite toy or activity.  In cases of mild anxiety this may provide relief.

6)    Dog Appeasement Pheromone (DAP) is a product that is believed to reduce anxiety.  It is available as a spray or diffuser. Some owners swear by these products.

7)    The ASPCA has great information on desensitizing and counter conditioning.  Be careful and work with a behavioral specialist  because if desensitizing is done incorrectly, you can actually make your dog worse.

8)    Medications that control anxiety can be used along with other methods to increase success.  Consult your veterinarian about these and all medications.

9)    Never punish your dog for being fearful.  That will only compound the problem.

 10)    Don’t over reassure your dog either.  Telling them over and over what a poor baby they are may actually reinforce their fearful behavior.

11)  Finally, make certain that you are calm.  If you’re afraid of storms and loud noises you can’t be much help to your pet.