Dogs and cats can both experience episodes of anxiety and fear which can make them extremely unsettled and show unwanted behaviour.
Short phobic episodes include
- Fear of thunder storms
- Fear of loud noises such as nail guns in a house renovation
- Fear of being left alone – separation anxiety
- Fear of other animals or people
- Sometimes even fear of going places such as the vet
Longer anxious episodes can include
- moving to a new house
- new animals or people coming to the house
- changes in the environment that upsets your pet.
At Pittwater Animal Hospital we are often asked to supply something to help a pet’s anxiety. There are a myriad or unproven medications that we don’t recommend.
This is a list of things that might be helpful.
Feliway® – cat pheromone diffuser
Cats will often exhibit anxious behaviour by
- Urinating or defecating in the wrong place
- Attacking other cats or people
- Hiding away
Feliway® is an analogue of the calming facial pheromone cats leave when they rub their faces on furniture or people. A Feliway® Diffuser is plugged into a power point in the room you wish to create a calming environment. (Pittwater Animal Hospital uses diffusers in the cat hospital area to promote a calming feeling.)
A Feliway® diffuser may be useful for any cat that is moving house, having new people or animals introduced or experiencing stress for any other reason. The diffuser alone is not going to settle an anxious cat but combined with creating a calm environment, providing safe hide-holes and encouraging calm behaviour it may help your cat adjust more quickly.
Adaptil® dog collar
This canine pheromone analogue is based on the hormone mother dogs secrete.
The pheromone is released from a collar worn around the neck and works for over one month.
Adaptil® collars are useful when bringing a new puppy home to a new environment or introducing 2 new dogs. Puppies that are showing anxious behaviour may be helped with self-settling techniques as well as periods of mental stimulation through the day. These techniques and exercises are encouraged and taught in our Puppy School Classes.
ThunderShirts® or Anxiety Wraps are vest-like garments designed to calm anxious dogs. When worn properly, Thundershirts® distribute pressure over the back and sides of the dogs chest. The gentle pressure releases chemicals called endorphins, that promote a sense of well-being, like a tight hug from a loved one.
ThunderShirts® come in different sizes and can be fitted at Pittwater Animal Hospital.
Storm phobia can be triggered due to a number of scary events. The loud thunderclaps, flashes of lightening and constant pounding of rain on roofs can induce a high level of anxiety in some pets. Signs of anxiety during thunderstorms include panting, shaking, escape attempts or damage to property, inappropriate elimination, pacing, attention seeking, whining, inappetence, salivation and hiding.
It is important to get your dog used to the ThunderShirt® by putting it on periodically during pleasant times. That way the dog won’t always associate the ThunderShirt® with unpleasant occurrences. Continuous wear may diminish the effectiveness, so Thundershirts® work best when applied before a stressful event and removed afterwards.
Many people use weather apps to watch out for incoming storms so they can best prepare their pet.
Zylkene® is a naturally derived product using the milk protein casein. This protein is thought to have a calming effect in newborn animals and has been concentrated into a capsule that can be mixed with your pet’s food.
Zylkene® is usually used as an additive to avoid cats and dogs becoming stressed by new situations such as going into catteries or introducing new animals. Daily administration a few days before stressful events is recommended.
Prescription Anxiety Medication
There are many medications your veterinarian can supply for anxious or fearful behaviour. These medications are only available after consulting your veterinarian and having your pet examined.
Behaviour medication can be very variable in it’s effect and your veterinarian can also discuss possible underlying health issues and recommend potential behaviour modification plans.
If you wish to discuss behaviour medication with one of our veterinarians please make an appointment. Dr Jill King has a special interest in behaviour but all our vets have knowledge and experience in this interesting veterinary field.