A portion of this post is sponsored, but opinions are my own and 110% “pawthentic”! I am a passionate brand advocate for a new canine anxiety solution called Calmz.
Every year as summer begins and the Fourth of July approaches, I can’t help thinking of my dog, Buck. Buck was a beautiful Labrador chow mix, and he passed in 2009 leaving us many happy memories. For Buck, summertime thunderstorms and Fourth of July fireworks were anything but happy.
Buck had a severe thunderstorm phobia and noise anxiety. It began as a general restlessness during thunderstorms and eventually escalated to excessive, destructive, and dangerous behavior. Buck would pace, pant, and whine as he sensed a storm approaching. Then, as the storm hit full swing, this 80-pound pooch would try to climb into our laps! Obviously that was impossible, so he would then cling to us like Velcro until the storm blew over.
It was even worse when we weren’t home. Buck would chew through drywall (down to the studs), mangle doorknobs, and shred wooden molding. He wore his teeth down to dull, short nubs. He eventually escalated to rubbing his nose violently on various things to the point of tearing a bleeding gash on the top of his nose – every day, even if no storms occurred.
Buck was also terrified of fireworks, so sadly, the Fourth of July was not something our family looked forward to. On December 31, 2008 we even brought him along to a New Year’s Eve party so that he wouldn’t destroy the house or hurt himself while we were gone.
Our initial reaction to Buck’s fearful behavior was to avoid leaving him home alone – ever. But we also wanted to give him some relief from his fears, so we made an appointment with a board certified veterinary behaviorist, Lisa Radosta, DVM DACVB, who was able to provide us with an official diagnosis and shed some light on his behavior.
The toughest part of hearing Buck’s diagnosis was learning that his behavior was the result of intense terror – even a fear for his life – that he felt during storms or fireworks. We learned that he had felt this intense level of fear even from the very beginning – when we thought that his signs were mild and he was not “destructive.”
Signs That Your Dog May Suffer From Noise Anxiety
Buck’s experience taught us that it’s important for dog parents with pooches who are showing signs of anxiety to get them help as soon as possible, even if their signs are currently mild. This type of phobia does not go away – in fact it usually gets much worse as time goes on. It did in Buck’s case.
Each dog has a different level of anxiety and unique coping mechanisms. However, if your pooch is showing any of these signs, it may mean that he needs help.
- Excessive Drooling
- Inappropriate peeing or pooping
- Barking, crying, or whining
How to Help Dogs With Noise Anxiety
We were so thankful that we were able to treat Buck’s anxiety with a combination of behavior modification and anti-anxiety medications. We also found that music designed to soothe dogs was helpful to Buck. But most of the other “natural” solutions didn’t seem to help him because his condition was so far advanced. He never completely got over his phobias, but he was able to enjoy a much better quality of life (and so were we).
Managing Buck’s stress was an educational experience for me. A few years ago, I joined a team of super smart people who had the same vision I did–to find an all natural solution to ease or eliminate canine anxiety. It’s called The Calmz Anxiety Relief System, and you can read about it below (last bulleted item). After four long years of product development and testing, including on my own dog, Chilly, it is now available online or through your veterinarian.
I’m also a proud member of the Fear Free Advisory Group — a collection of pet and veterinary experts who collectively support the Fear Free mission is to prevent fear, anxiety and stress (FAS) in pets by inspiring and educating the people who care for them. My friend Dr. Marty Becker founded the Fear Free movement to revolutionize the way we care for pets at home and in the veterinary hospital environment to reduce FAS.
If you think that your dog is suffering from noise anxiety, you should discuss his behavior with your vet. You might even need to ask for a referral to a board certified behaviorist. Some possible treatments for noise anxiety include:
- Behavior modification. One common form of this therapy is to gradually desensitize your dog to the noises or situations that cause him anxiety. Basically it works like this: You would start by playing a recording of the noise at a very low volume, and reward your dog with a yummy treat if he doesn’t react fearfully. After several days of this, you can gradually begin to increase the volume. This form of treatment requires patience and needs to be done very gradually in order to be effective.
- All-natural remedies. Lavender has a calming effect on some dogs. A few drops applied to your dog’s collar or bedding may be helpful. Pheremones and aromatherapy are other great, all-natural remedies.
- Capes or wraps. Some dogs respond well to having pressure applied to their bodies. You may find that a wrap like Thundershirt will help to calm your anxious pup.
- Music. Music may have a calming effect on your dog, or it may simply mask the noise that he is afraid of. Either way, it’s worth a shot! You can find music especially for pets at sites like Through a Dog’s Ear, Pet Acoustics or on YouTube.
- Medications. Your vet may suggest anti-anxiety medication for your dog. Some of these may be given regularly, while others are meant to be used only in the case of something that triggers anxiety in your pooch (like fireworks or an approaching thunderstorm). Before you go this route, make sure you understand any possible risks or side-effects that your dog may experience
- Neuro-stimulation. Calmz Anxiety Relief System is an all-natural therapy that relieves neuro-chemical responses that cause fear, stress and anxiety in dogs. The system uses a combination of music, tones, and vibration therapy on accupressure points to calm your dog. It’s a non-invasive and several leading vet behaviorists have tested on their patients with positive results.
Often, a combination of several treatments will be the most effective way to help a dog deal with noise (or other) anxiety.
I wanted to share Buck’s story because I know there are so many other dogs who suffer with the same phobias that he did. I hope that his experience can help some of them. With the Fourth of July fast approaching and thunderstorms in full swing, it’s so important for these dogs to get the help they need to cope with their anxiety.
This is a sponsored post. However, all opinions and anecdotes are my own, and I never promote any products or brands I don’t believe in. ~Petfully yours, Kristen.