Why is My Dog Shaking? Helping Your Pet Cope with Anxiety this 4th of July
According to veterinarian Dr. Lynn Buzhardt, pets can experience stress and anxiety, just like us. Many pet owners know this to be true, and struggle to find healthy solutions to keep their pets calm and healthy. Today we want to help educate you on what you can do to help your favorite fur-baby stay calm and happy at home, just in time for 4th of July celebrations. Social distancing guidelines due to COVID-19 still allow for gatherings of small groups in almost every state which means most of us will be having small BBQ’s or family get-togethers to celebrate Independence Day. With so much activity going on, it is important to plan ahead to ensure the safety and health of your pets.
When possible, prevention is key in a stressful situation. It is much easier to keep a pet happy and stress free than it is to calm them down once they have gotten worked up. If you know what triggers stress and anxiety in your pet, be mindful of those events – thunderstorms, fireworks, etc. Typically, we know when these things are going to happen which allows you to be proactive. There are several over-the-counter supplements to help with stress and you might even try a thunder shirt or thunder jacket. The thunder shirt wraps around your dog and this gives them a sense of security. Always talk with your vet before adding any medication or supplement to your dog’s routine, but there are options available. Our veterinarian recommends Vetriscience Composure Pro. This can be given daily or as needed but is best to start at least a few hours or a full day before the triggering event. We personally recommend Chillax by PawTree or CBD pet oil or CBD treats by Hempworx. Whether you have a dog or cat, or any other pet that gets anxious, it is essential to have a safe space for them. Many dogs will hide in their crate when scared, others might have a favorite room or get under a bed. If this is the case, make sure they have access to this area.
Having a calm, quiet space will help tremendously when attempting to calm down an anxious pet. If noise is an issue, we also recommend turning on the tv or music in combination with a fan. If you can help drown out some of the noise, it might be easier for your pet to relax. Some pets might act out when stressed but keeping your tone calm and collected will help calm them down. As humans, our first reaction might be to be stern with them, or discipline them for acting out, but that will only make the situation worse. They will then associate the trigger with getting in trouble, which will cause more anxiety. If your pet has severe anxiety we also recommend speaking to your vet about medications. There are a variety of options available for pets who struggle with anxiety and they can help you find the best solution. Please note that this may not be a cure but will help lessen the stress on your dog. They will most likely still need a quiet, safe place to go when storms are happening or when fireworks are going off.
If you are having friends and family in your home, it is important to make sure they understand the importance of keeping doors and gates shut during the 4th of July. Many pets get disoriented and run away during this time, or even during thunderstorms, even when they typically stay close to home. We always recommend checking your fences and gates regularly to ensure they are secure for your pet, but this is especially important during this time of year. If your dog is prone to bolting out the door, it may be best to keep them on a leash if anyone is coming in and out of the doors or gates where your dog could escape. We always encourage pet owners to tag and microchip their pets, but this is one of the most important times to keep their collars on and a good reminder to ensure your information is up to date. In the event your pet does escape, they are much more likely to be returned to you if they have some sort of identification on them. A collar and tag should include your phone number, the dog’s name, and if there is room, your name and address. Unfortunately, collars can fall off and tags can come unattached from the collar, so microchipping is usually an easier way to make sure your pet’s information can be traced back to you if needed. We even have a previous blog post about the benefits of microchipping.
Many people who find a lost dog know to take it somewhere to check for a chip, or if they are turned in to a shelter, they should also scan for a microchip in any incoming pets.
We truly hope you have a safe and happy 4th of July holiday while keeping your pets happy and healthy. Do you have any additional tips for calming an anxious dog? We would love to hear about it, feel free to message us!