Growing up we had Dalmatians. Known for their high-strung, but loving nature, we had one that was particularly neurotic. She was petrified of thunderstorms and the simulated bombings at a nearby army base. During a storm or the bombings she hid in the “safety” of the bathtub or literally ran to the vet not too far from the house, jumped over the dutch door and admitted herself to the hospital! She was also known however, to destroy the interior of my mother’s car during one of her anxiety attacks.
Pets, just like humans, have neuroses or nervous habits and behaviors. Perhaps yours has separation anxiety when you leave the house. Or gets nervous or acts out when you bring out the suitcase to pack for a trip. Maybe your pet gets jealous when a new baby arrives or when friends come over. Loud noises like fireworks or thunderstorms might cause stress. Or somehow your pet knows when you are taking them for a check up and they shake the entire way to the vet. Our cat always hid before her doctor’s appointments even though I purposely didn’t mention the appointment in front of her.
Stress is harmful to a pet and can lead to unwanted behavior – excessive barking, destructive chewing, urination in the house, vomiting, etc. As with humans, veterinarians are quick to prescribe expensive tranquilizers or sedatives. But there are better approaches. First, make sure you pet is getting adequate exercise and good nutrition with a high quality diet appropriate for his/her age and size. After you have determined which situations cause stress, you can try to change the animal’s behavior by retraining them. In extreme situations you may need to employ the help of an animal behaviorist. Using a calm voice and playing classical music also help.
There are holistic, natural products that contain calming herbs such as valerian root and chamomile that are worth trying as well. Pet Naturals of Vermont makes a product called Calming, Bone Shaped Chews for stress reduction, made with high potency, sugar-free natural ingredients, which don’t affect the pet’s energy level, cause drowsiness or impair motor skills. You can get Pet Naturals of Vermont at local pet shops or at most Petco stores. Homeopet.com also carries a variety of homeopathic remedies for stress, anxiety and other ailments. I recently discovered an amazing product called the Thundershirt for dogs, a swaddling sweater that adds gentle pressure and calms the dog during panic attacks. Check it out on youtube – it’s a great concept and certainly worth a try with a money back guarantee!
Information compiled from http://www.holisticpetinfo.com/conditions/behavior.htm and Pet Naturals of Vermont.