Many dogs and cats suffer from some kind of anxiety at one time or another. Whether caused by loud noises, their annual trip to the vet, or you leaving the house every day, anxiety is hard to deal with. It can even make you anxious in anticipation of their anxiety!
Common causes of pet anxiety include:
This is probably the biggest cause of anxiety in pets. It may manifest in pacing, whining, barking, drooling, chewing things (including the house itself!), and urinating or defecating in the house. These displacement behaviors are your pet’s way of trying to handle an overwhelming amount of stress. They’re understandable, but still unacceptable in your home.
This form of anxiety occurs most often during thunderstorms and on the 4th of July, although the garbage truck or any loud, unexpected noise can also set it off. If a smoke detector goes off due to burned toast, your pet can react with confusion, fear, and dogs could even howl at the loud noise!
Dogs who didn’t travel much as a puppy, or who were involved in a car accident, are the most likely to experience this form of anxiety. Cats who never leave the house except for that annual trip to the vet are also prone to it. Many times, your pet will feel safer in a snug wrap or a secure, comfortable pet carrier that doesn’t allow for as much movement as their normal crate.
Instead of letting your pet stress out both of you, try putting one of these snug outfits on him. This ‘calming wear’ just might really work to reduce your pet’s anxiety!
The ThunderShirt® is a pressure wrap that swaddles your pet like a baby in bunting. The authors of this study in the Journal of Veterinary Behavior said, “The effect of moderate to deep pressure on soft tissue has been studied in both humans and non-human animals with positive results shown in reducing anxiety and promoting relaxation.”
Their recommendation? “The ThunderShirt® can be used with behavior modification programming and medication as an adjunct treatment option to assist dogs diagnosed with anxiety disorder to reduce heart rate.”
The Anxiety Wrap®
Susan Sharpe is a certified service and therapy dog trainer and the inventor of the Anxiety Wrap®. In 2001, this was the first of the ‘pressure wraps’ to hit the market.
This lightweight, breathable wrap provides acupressure along with gentle, soothing body pressure to calm an overstressed pet. It also helps to lessen hyperactivity and increase confidence. A calm, confident dog is a lot easier to live with than one that is constantly anxious, fearful, or hyper!
The Storm Defender cape has a metallic lining that helps dispel static electricity. It’s those static charges that build up in the air before a storm that trigger your pet’s anxiety. Those tiny electrical charges zapping them probably contribute to an animal’s fear of a coming storm and their frantic search for anything that will keep those static charges off their fur!
The Storm Defender cape protects your dog from the static electricity. The newest version also incorporates calming pressure.
Note: Some dogs might experience more anxiety from continuous pressure. If your dog doesn’t like being held down (flat on his back), then he might not be a good candidate. In any case, always make sure your pet is comfortable in his calming wear before leaving him home alone while wearing it – especially if it’s the first time!
These pressure wraps produce a beneficial ‘therapeutic hug’. That’s better than actually hugging your pet, since some pets who love their humans don’t enjoying that same human hugging them. Besides, cuddling your anxious pet only reaffirms that they have good reason for their anxiety. It’s actually rewarding them for the behavior you want to stop! Try a wrap and these techniques instead. Oh, and play some music for your anxious pet.