Natural Ways to Treat Fireworks and Thunderstorm Anxiety in Dogs
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. Also in the summer months, we have to deal with fireworks around the 4th of July.
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 and fireworks 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.
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. These tend to work on emotional problems and can really help with fear during times of stress and anxiety.
It can be given directly in the pet’s mouth or in their water dish. Try to give it 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 tight fitting 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. An herbal calming aid, such as Calm Shen, is a great drug-free solution to stress and anxiety especially during fireworks and thunderstorms. It is a Chinese herbal combination that needs to be given for a few weeks before the stress starts and can be continued all summer long if needed. It takes time to work but can be really helpful to calm your dog.
6. For a more immediate effect, there are 2 options:
July Third is formulated to help dogs maintain a normal, content, and relaxed disposition in times of environmental stress and in situations that may cause anxiousness, such as noise from fireworks and thunderstorms. With valerian, chamomile, thiamine, L-Tryptophan, and passion flower, July Third helps keep your pet calm by promoting a sense of relaxation and supporting a normal emotional balance, so he can maintain a normal and relaxed disposition while coping with external stresses.
Another option is hemp oil. We carry a full-spectrum CBC oil called Hemp Rx. It provides a safe, drug-free option that has a calming effect without sedating your dog.
If these methods don’t work or your dog has severe anxiety, you may need to talk to your veterinarian. As a holistic veterinarian, I have had a lot of success in helping and sometimes curing your pet of thunderstorm anxiety using a combination of acupuncture and Chinese herbs. See www.ahvma.org for a holistic vet in your area or you can make an appointment with me:
Deneen Fasano, DVM
Animal Healing Solutions
1117 E. Altamonte Drive
Altamonte Springs, FL 32701
Feel free to call us or email us if you have any questions.