for those dogs w/thunder phobia

NinapearlJune 9, 2009

for those of you who have dogs with this problem, try putting a tee shirt on your dog. if you can do this well in advance of a thunder storm, before your dog gets totally anxious, it may help.

if you google "anxiety wrap for dogs", you will see the theory behind this trick.

the tee shirt should fight snugly and you can gather up the hem and tie it in a knot over your dog's back.

i had a siberian husky who, in his later years, became downright destructive during storms. if i wasn't home to supervise him, he would tear woodwork off the walls and soil all over the house. a friend suggested the tee shirt and it worked like a charm. until i discovered this trick, i would have to sedate him big time when storms were approaching.

hope this helps. :)

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Good to know this worked for your dog. There's also something called the 'Storm Defender Cape' that may be helpful for dogs with moderate T-phobia. It worked for my senior dog who developed minimal storm phobia as he aged,(shaking, panting, chewing) but was useless for my returned younger female with much more serious reaction. Some folks have success wiping the dog with a fabric softener dryer sheet. Most of us who give our dogs anti-anxiety meds have taken that step only after trying every thing else.

I'm linking an article by a vet on why it's important not to let dogs just suffer through this. Moderate to mild cases, the home remedies may work. Severe cases can literally kill the dog.

Here is a link that might be useful: DVM Magazine article

    Bookmark   June 9, 2009 at 7:39AM
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Fortunately thunderstorms are not too big of an issue here, but fireworks are. I run my dog everyday. Usually by afternoon (when most thunderstorms get ramping up) my dog is stuck to the carpet snoring soundly.
Dont forget exercising your dog can help release pent up energy and can have an added bonus of clming the dog who is now too tired to care. Rescue remedy is also a great aid.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2009 at 7:36PM
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Mazer, have you ever had a thunder phobic dog? It's not about exercise and it's not about thunder. Exercise is good for all dogs, but doesn't need to be suggested as a solution to every problem that comes up here. To imply that dogs with weather related anxiety aren't getting enough exercise is sophomoric.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2009 at 7:55PM
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Exercise has nothing to do with it. My cousin's dog suffers something terrible from thunder phobia. She runs her dogs for 2 hours EVERY day in the desert so they have lots of exercise.

She invested in a coat that supposedly helps with the electrical current that builds up in the air during lighting/thunder. Apparently this coats detracts the electricity the dog feels. Or it could be that it's binding on the body adding a level of comfort? ... who knows but as an eye witness - it really works.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2009 at 9:12PM
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Actually Mazer has a point about exercise helping with phobias...but it has nothing to do with tireing them out, it has to do with hormones that are produced during exercise that can help lesson anxiety levels.
However thunder phobia's in dogs can range from severe to moderate. Severe phobias can cause a list of health issues ranging from ulcers to bloat. In these cases the t-shirts, bach flower essence and melatonin rarely help. In severe cases the best thing you can do is to drown out the noise as best you can with a sound the dog actually is comfortable with. I swear by White noise CD's, and my dog prefers the "fan" one. Also many dogs are bothered by the flash of light from lightening so close your curtains and or blinds, and turn on a light to cut the flash down from outside.

Here is a link that might be useful: White noise CD's

    Bookmark   June 10, 2009 at 8:46PM
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My sisters golden re. had severe TP, would hide and shake. He also would get scared to death at the site of balloons, didn't like the noise they made when popped. Would run and hide. (fire crackers also) To think they were at one time going to use him for a hunting dog. They never got around to training him. I have heard you need to de-sensitize dogs to loud noises. Have heard of people using recordings of storms first at low sound levels and gradually turning up the volume over 1 week to a month until it is very loud...Don't know if this works.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2009 at 9:09AM
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Thanks for this suggestion. I'm going to try it with our Shasta, who's terrified of thunder and fireworks.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2009 at 8:33AM
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Does anyone know what the dosage of Melatonin would be for a 55 lb. dog? How much RR would be safe for her? I'd love to try it on my BC who is moderately/severely frightened by thunder. Prescription meds do not help her, they only make her a slow moving frightened dog. The symptoms are just as severe. She's fine with fireworks, but not thunder. She begins to shiver when it just begins to cloud up. Thanks

    Bookmark   June 13, 2009 at 11:15AM
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If you're home with your dog when it's happening, I'd suggest a massage. I found that it can (at least temporarily) put a lot of dogs at ease. The endorphins and other calming hormones are released. I've been able to over come aggression and forms of fear with massages.

Also, treats during this time can work wonders. You might try filling a kong with something particularly yummy or just let him/her lick peanut butter off a spoon a little bit at a time. Assuming that you can get him/her to eat.

The relaxation cd is a good idea. You can buy a cd that's a recording of dogs laughing. It may help to calm.

All of these measures should calm the dog and reinforce that good things happen during storms so they shouldn't be feared.

Here is a link that might be useful: Laughing Dog CD

    Bookmark   June 14, 2009 at 2:20PM
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The T-shirt or anxiety wrap does work. I've used both with dogs who are severely afraid.

In addition I use Melatonin, proven to be effective for dogs who have this phobia. The dose is 3mg for a large dog, half that for a small dog. I have an 80 pound hound I give 6mg to. I don't think you can overdose on it unless you feed them the whole bottle. It's a naturally produced chemical that tells the brain that its time to relax and get ready for bed. The minute mine show any anxiety -- they can pick up thunder far sooner than we can -- I break out the Melatonin. I wrap mine in cream cheese because they like the taste and have trouble spitting it out. :)

We have a new neighbor with firecrackers so we have nightly panic attacks now. I have 9 dogs, 7 of whom are terrified of loud noises and thunder. Oh joy. I'm trying to get them to associate the noise with treats. It seems to be working a little. I went through a whole package of cheap cookies (more distracting than dog treats) and Maggie my hound who is the most frightened was smiling by the time the last crackers went off.

One thing to be sure to do is not buy into the fear. Be happy and bouncy when you talk to them and tell them it's just noise. If they are really bad though, you need to speak to your vet about something stronger than Melatonin.

Jane and the Gang

    Bookmark   June 15, 2009 at 1:13PM
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Thanks Jane on the dosing information. I will definitely try it and I'll also try the T-shirt. It surely can't hurt. I do think in time she'll actually have a heart attack one day from her fears.

I've tried acting bouncy and happy and all that does is make her more anxious because she thinks I'm losing my mind and she can't count on me. LOL I've tried food and she doesn't want anything to do with it. I've tried drowning out the noise, but that doesn't work either. If I console her that makes her more anxious too. So I just let her go hide in the corner of the bathroom or laundry room (her 2 favorite spots) and leave her be.

I do hope these new things I try give her some relief. Thanks again.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2009 at 11:12PM
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