Answered by Dr. Christina Chambreau
It’s thunderstorm time again. My dog is howling. Your dog may be running through glass doors or glass windows, maybe just hiding and shivering, or coming to you and whining. Storm anxiety is very common, and for each animal, it’s different. Therefore, the treatment can depend on how your animal is acting. Of course, there are drug treatments for anxiety that a conventional veterinarian can prescribe. There are a lot of holistic approaches that can help. Many of these holistic treatments are a hundred percent safe where some of the conventional drugs may not be. However, like with conventional drugs, dogs may react differently. Some dogs on Acepromazine don’t calm down, they get more excited! Oh no!
One of the important tricks of using holistic treatments is to start them a month before you’re anticipating anxiety, like before the Fourth of July or before storms are getting bad, or at least a few days before a storm is happening. This ensures that you’re putting on the Tellington TTouch Thunder Wrap or using the Ace bandage wrap method or giving the flower essences or using the herbs before the actual event that triggers the anxiety. Do these things ahead of time when it’s calm and your dog is happy and feeling well, then he’ll associate wearing the bundling shirt with feeling good. When it’s then time to use it for the thunderstorm, you’ll know how they react, and they’ll be associating the treatment with a good event.
One of the easiest things you can try is a super safe flower essence combination. You can usually purchase this at any health food store, and it’s called “Rescue Remedy.” Put 4 drops in a 1-ounce bottle of water, and use it liberally. Put a few drops in your pup’s mouth. Put a few drops on hairless areas, like the inside of the ear flap, on the belly, or sometimes under the armpits. Put a few drops on his paws, and maybe he’ll lick the paws. Put a few drops on your hand, and pet him with it. These are all things that you can do with the flower essence. The Rescue Remedy is a treatment that you can also try ahead of time. You can try it in any anxious situation, and then start it as soon as you know there’s going to be a thunderstorm, or if you come home and your dog is not doing very well you can start it then. The owner of one dog who had thunderstorm anxiety sprayed Rescue Remedy on his favorite toy that he used to hide with, and that was it. There were no more problems. It’s not always that easy, so you do have to keep trying different approaches if the first one you try doesn’t work.
There are some basic things around the house that you can do to help, whether it’s thunderstorms or loud noises from fireworks. You can close the curtains, put on some soft music, turn on the TV (find out what tv your dog actually likes. Some of them watch certain shows and not other shows), or create a safe space where they can feel comfortable, maybe in a closet where it’s less likely to be as loud. Hang out with them, or let them be alone depending on what they feel more comfortable with. Often distraction works great for dogs that are having thunderstorm anxiety issues. You can distract them with games that you’ve worked with, again not during the storm but beforehand, and you know they love. If you’ve been using a snuffle mat to help them breathe better and feel happier overall, put the snuffle mat out with special food treats in it during a storm. And of course, one of the permanent things that you can do to help your dogs with storm anxiety is desensitization, and that’s slowly exposing them to the sounds of the storm. It doesn’t help with the pressure changes, which sometimes is what’s triggering the problem. But, it can decrease their reaction to storms.
There are many other behavioral ways you can work with your dog. One product that has been proven to help dogs with storm anxiety, and anxiety in general, is the Calmer Canine. The Calmer Canine is a modification of the Assisi Loop. You put it over your dog’s head and you use it for a period of time to relieve anxiety. Many studies have shown it to be effective.
More permanent cures for dogs with anxiety, whether it’s from storms or other anxieties, is to build their balance by following the fundamentals that are listed on the Holistic Actions! website. There’s a Holistic Pet Health 101 Course, so check it out there! You may have to work with a homeopathic veterinarian or a Chinese medicine veterinarian. There are a lot of things you can do that may help your pet right now.
I’m Doctor Christina Chambreau, licensed veterinarian with Holistic Actions! You can find out a lot more about anxieties on our website!
- Flower Essences
- Tellington T-Touch, Calmer Canine
- Destroying things
DISCLAIMER: Holistic Actions! does not provide advice on certified medical treatments. Content is intended for informational purposes only and to equip you with the tools needed for Holistic Medical Decision Making (HMDM). It is not a substitute for clinical assessment, diagnosis, or treatment. Never use content found on the Holistic Actions! website as the basis for ignoring advice from your veterinarian to seek treatment. If you think you may have a veterinary emergency, please call your vet or an animal hospital immediately.
Christina Chambreau, DVM, is an internationally known homeopathic veterinarian and associate editor of the Integrative Veterinary Care Journal, she’s written several books on animal healthcare.
After opening her own homeopathy veterinary practice in 1983, she founded the Academy Of Veterinary Homeopathy and was on the faculty of the National Center for Homeopathy Summer School for ten years.
Dr. Christina is also an integrative medicine adjunct faculty liaison for the Maryland Veterinary Technician Program and lectures on a wide array of topics including integrating holistic options into veterinary practices, as well as guidance on how to choose the best approaches to heal animals and sustainability.