Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Thunderstorm Phobia

With Florida in the middle of hurricane season and hurricane Mathew currently spinning off the southern coast it is important to remember the impact these storms have on our pets.

Almost every Floridian has grown accustomed to the classic Florida afternoon thunderstorm. It comes rolling in often without any notice and is often intense but over before you know it. While most of us have become used to this, our furry friends may not be. Thunder, lightning, and barometric pressure changes can often startle our pets and cause anxiety. Symptoms of this anxiety include pacing, vocalizing, trembling, and the need for close contact. If the anxiety is extreme it also can cause destructive behavior. It is important to recognize these symptoms in our pets to be able to keep them safe and happy. Some common ways to soothe the anxiety include turning on ambient noise such as a TV or radio, creating a safe environment with bedding and toys as well as leaving a light on to prevent flashes of lightning from being alarming. If these environmental changes do not work there are other natural approaches and products that you can use at home.

There are also natural pheromone products that come in both collars as well as wall plug in units that emit a constant scent of pheromones to calm our patients. There are also a variety of calming tightly fitting jackets to simulate constant contact. Despite best efforts sometimes the Florida thunderstorms are too much for our pets and they need medical intervention which is best discussed with your family veterinarian. Your Veterinarian can discuss other natural options as well as prescription medication to alleviate any anxiety and stress your pet may be feeling.

Florida is a beautiful state and its thunderstorms are part of its natural beauty. Hopefully these tips can make these afternoon events a little less stressful for our furry friends.

Dr. Morgan Watkins
Animal Health Center 

(This article originally appeared in Pet Pages 2016 edition.)

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