Anxiety in pets

It has been said that anxiety can almost always be traced back to the first two years of life, a traumatizing event or both. Three main types that owners need to be aware of are separation anxiety, noise anxiety, and social anxiety.  According to Dr. Parrish Tanner of Quail Hollow Animal Hospital in Wesley Chapel, FL, it is important to know when to spot these behavioral problems and know when it is time to call in the doctor for assistance. Bringing these issues up with your veterinarian is a good idea. They will be able to help eliminate the behavior or even help your pet cope with it’s underlying anxiety issues.Lonely Days

Some common behaviors that may be exhibited with separation anxiety dogs are excessive barking or howling, inappropriate defecation or urination, destructive chewing or scratching of windows, walls, doors, digging up of carpet and flooring in front of closed doorways when left alone.

Self mutilation behavior is also a sign of anxiety which can result in the formation of lick granulomas (a thick, firm oval-shaped plaque that results from excessive licking of the lower leg). Aggression exhibited toward the owners when they leave the house is one of the more serious behaviors.

Dogs with noise anxiety might behave as follows: shaking, hiding, cowering, urinating uncontrollably or refusing to leave your side. For dogs at the other end of the spectrum, destructive or self-mutilating behavior may be exhibited. Please note that dog’s have the ability to sense changes in the weather. If your dog is thunderstorm-phobic, he may start his noise-phobic behavior well in advance of an approaching storm because he knows its coming.

These are just a few behaviors that dogs with anxiety may exhibit. If you believe your pet may have anxiety problems, Dr. Tanner encourages you to contact your veterinarian for an appointment. It is a good idea to address these issues prior to the fireworks this Independence Day.

For additional details, visit Organic Pet Digest to receive more information on preventing and treating pet anxiety.

The low down on microchips

There is one thing that of veterinary care cannot prevent and that is a lost pet. According to HomeAgain, “1 in 3 pets goes missing during its lifetime”, including those indoor cats that NEVER go outside and for this reason microchipping is recommended. Veterinary hospitalsMicrochipping like Quail Hollow Animal Hospital, in Wesley Chapel, FL offer microchipping services to help make the chances that a lost pet will get back to his or her family a little higher.

Terrie Roberts, CVT at Quail Hollow explains microchip implantation can be done during an already scheduled anesthetic procedure or while the pet is awake. A microchip is about the size of a grain of rice and is injected, much like a vaccine, under the skin. Every chip is biocompatible so as to not cause any adverse reactions once implanted. Also, microchips are permanent, so once the chip is placed it will always be there!

The way a microchip works, is that each chip contains its own special number that is linked to information that could reunite the pet with its family. Once the microchip is implanted, the pet is registered with the owner’s information with a pet recovery service that has access to a national database. Registering with the recovery service is the most important step of the process. Should that pet go missing and be found, any vet facility or shelter will be able to scan for the microchip number and search the pet recovery service with that number. Once the pet’s information is found, the family can then be contacted. A microchip is only as helpful as the information linked to it.

Occasionally, pets are found with microchips that have outdated information. The key to microchip maintenance is to keep contact information current in case a pet does become lost. For more information about microchipping, refer to www.public.HomeAgain.com.

Keeping your pet calm during a storm

Cat yawning. Also useful for yelling or laughing conceptsThunderstorm phobia unfortunately is an all too common condition in many dogs and cats. According to Dr. Parrish Tanner of Quail Hollow Animal Hospital in Wesley Chapel, FL, “The adverse reaction to a storm usually begins early in life, and often symptoms worsen with each storm season. There is likely a genetic component to storm anxiety, and pets often times have other anxieties as well, such as separation anxiety. The more sensitive senses of our pets heighten the noxious stimuli of thunder, wind, barometric pressure changes, and static electricity.”

Treatments for storm phobia vary with the severity of each pet explains Dr. Tanner, but it is of great benefit to begin at the first sign of anxiety because the condition most likely will worsen over time. Storm phobia can also be a learned response from person to animal or from animal to animal. The most important thing to do at the first sign of storm anxiety in our pets is to remain calm and not to reinforce the anxious tendencies. Our animals look to us for guidance in stressful situations, and we need to reassure them with calm upbeat behavior not anxious or pitying actions.

Developing safe areas for our pets to seek refuge in during storms can lessen their anxiety greatly. An interior room or closet with no windows is an ideal safe room. This room should be available to our pet at all times. A light should be on in the room to negate any flashing from lightening. Soft music or white noise can be played to drown out the noise of thunder. Crates or bedding, food and water should be in the room as well. It is important that our pet sees this room as a safe haven, so interact and play with them in this room at times other than while a storm is in progress.

Once your pet is reassured by your calm behavior and has access to appropriate safe refuge other treatments may still be needed. Pheromone therapy with DAP or Feliway collars and diffusers can be beneficial for some of our pets. Thundershirts that provide a pressure/swaddling effect can lesson some patient’s anxiety as well. In many cases patients will continue to show significant anxiety no matter what we do. Medication for anxiety is often needed to combat storm phobias. In mild cases a quick acting medication can be given at the time of a storm. In more severe cases we often will start the patient on a daily medication for the entire storm season and medicate with quick acting medication at the time of the storm. Our goal with medication is to lessen the anxiety not to sedate the patient. We want to lessen the anxiety so that our pets can then learn through all of the other modifications that we have done that every thing will be ok.

Storm phobias are a very common problem for many of our animals. Remaining calm and providing upbeat reassurance at the first bout of anxiety is very important. Hopefully, we can reduce the anxiety early in a pet’s life so that they can enjoy many stress free years to come.