Living in Florida, thunderstorms can sometimes be a daily occurrence in the summer months. Fear of thunderstorms, or thunderstorm anxiety, has become a common problem for some pets.
Most regular veterinarians prescribe tranquilizers and other types of medications, which can help yet there are much more natural and holistic alternatives.
Here are some things that you can do at home that will help if your pet suffers from thunderstorm anxiety:
1. There are several homeopathics that will help and in mild cases, are sometimes all that is needed. Homeopathics are extremely safe and easy to administer.
One product that I use a lot is called Storm Stress by Homeopet. It is a homeopathic combination product that alleviates the fear and stress associated with thunderstorms.
Rescue Remedy is a flower essence which is similar to a homeopathic. It was developed by Dr. Edward Bach, also called a Bach Flower Remedy. They tend to work on emotional problems and can really help during times of stress and anxiety.
Both can be given directly in the pet’s mouth or in their water dish. Try to give them before the storm hits and then every 15-30 minutes during the storm until your pet seems calmer.
2. Comfort your pet and let him/her know that everything is okay. Make them feel safe by speaking in a soft, calm voice while petting them. Ignoring your pet or scolding your pet will only prolong and increase the anxiety. Wrapping your pet in a blanket or putting on a t-shirt can sometimes reduce the anxiety and give them a feeling of comfort and security.
Thundershirts for dogs work on this principle and the shirts provide a gentle, constant pressure which has been proven to have a dramatic calming effect on your dog. I personally use one for my chihuahua and do see an improvement when she’s wearing it. She is calmer and seems to like having it on.
3. There are 3 acupressure points around the head that can be used to help to calm your pet. These points are called Gall Bladder 20 (GB20) and Governing Vessel 20 (GV20). GB20 consists of 2 paired points that can be found at the back of the head, at the base of the skull, in the indentations behind both ears. There is one point behind each ear. GV20 is a single point at the top of the head in the middle between the front edge of the ears. You can gently press these points, one at a time or all three at the same time, or you can massage them in mini circles. You can do this for a few minutes or until your pet seems calmer.
4. If you don’t feel comfortable finding acupressure points, you can do a technique called Tellington Touch or TTouch. This is a method developed by Linda Tellington Jones that involves placing the fingertips on your pet’s body and tracing small circles in a clockwise direction starting at 6 o’clock and circling all the way around to 8 o’clock. You can use one or two fingers and the tiny circles can be done anywhere on the body. You can try doing the areas of the acupressure points mentioned above. This can have a real calming effect on your pet and can be done for a few minutes or during the entire storm.
5. There are some Western herbs that can help. These tend to have a calming effect and can take the edge off and ease anxiety.
One blend of herbs that I like is called Tranquility Blend. It contains the herbs valerian, skullcap, oat flower and passion flower, which have all been shown to have a calming effect. It is in a glycerine base, so the animals tolerate the taste well.
Deneen Fasano, DVM
Animal Healing Solutions
1109 E. Altamonte Drive
Altamonte Springs, FL 32701