Humane Approach to Thunderstorm Anxiety


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Thunderstorm anxiety is huge issue for many, and with all the rain we’re having I can’t imagine a more relevant interview. I speak on my national Steve Dale’s Pet World radio show with veterinary behaviorist and co-editor of Decoding Your Dog, Dr. Debbie Horwitz.

Dr. Debra Horwitz

Horwitz points out that if your dog is anxious about storms and/or wind events – the dogs are frightened, if not downright terrified.

If you intervene, and get help for your dog with thunderstorm anxiety – that’s the right thing to do. And there are many more products and ways to intervene today compared to just a few years ago.

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:

Steve Dale and Dr. Debra Horwitz talk about thunderstorm anxiety 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 or classical music up may be 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. Getting a medication on board  actually just makes good sense and may be the most effective response to deal with storms that are going to come and go now for several months, and if you live in the south for more than several months.

There’s much more about various anxieties in dogs in Decoding Your Dog, co-edited by Horwitz, and Dr. John Ciribassi with myself, and written by members of the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists.