Identifying Fearful Behaviors

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In our last blog post, we wrote about keeping your dog safe during firework season.  Some owners since then have asked, “Well, how do I know if my dog is afraid?”    To answer this question, Dr. Katie will describe her own dog’s behavior before a storm rolls in.

 

Ruby is a 7 year old mutt I found while hiking 6 years ago.  She had been abandoned with a litter of puppies and was in very poor health, but now she is a happy and healthy part of the Darr home.  Ruby has been afraid of storms since the day I found her.  When the clouds first start rolling in, she starts restlessly pacing.   She goes to the front door and checks often (hypervigilance), but she spends most of the prestorm time seeking attention from a family memberOther signs Ruby displays are panting,cowering, refusal to eat, yawning, whining, ears pinned back, freezing, and shaking. Once the storm arrives and the thunder begins, Ruby runs and hides in the bathroom where she shakes and pants.   Other dogs can become destructive, run away, or injure themselves with self trauma.

 

Here are just a few signs your dog is scared.  For really bad storms, and holidays with fireworks, Dr. Katie uses a medication to help Ruby calm down.  There are many options available, and there is no “1 size fits all.”  Our previous blog post features some simple tips and tricks you can try to help your pet.  If you feel your pet needs a medication, please give us a call to schedule a consultation (573-875-3647).

Happy Independence Day from the My Zoo team!

 

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Firework Fears (and other noise aversions)

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Independence Day is almost here!  While children and adults all over America are excited to celebrate our country’s freedom with fireworks, our pets may be less excited.   Noise phobias are particularly common in dogs and July 4th is a terrifying holiday for them!  There are some things we can do to help with Fido’s fears.   Here are some general tips to help keep your pet safe:

 

  • Create a safe zone. This is a space where your dog can go to feel safe.   Katie’s dog, Ruby, particularly loves the middle bathroom.   Dr. Katie turns the fan on to add white noise, and provides soft bedding so Ruby can be comfortable.  Some dogs may find comfort in their crate, but be careful locking them in as being trapped during a noisy event can increase anxiety.    Dr. Katie usually allows Ruby to go to her safe spot, but doesn’t lock her in.   For dogs that bolt through open doors, use caution during firework season.   A terrified dog may be more prone to run away and get injured during the noise.
  • Don’t coddle. One thing you want to avoid is rewarding fearful behavior.  Instead, work on training and reward for a good response.  For example, practice sit, stay, or tricks and reward for the desired response.   During this time it is important for owners to stay calm and avoid projecting anxiety.  If you are nervous, your dog will pick up on that emotion!
  • Take a long walk before night falls. Before the scary event (ie, fireworks) take a nice walk with your dog, or play fetch!   Activity can help your dog feel calmer by wearing him out and by releasing endorphins.

 

If your pet is very fearful, he or she may have a phobia.  Medications can help, but there is no 1 size fits all.  You can schedule an appointment and discuss options with one of our veterinarians.   We have a new option this year called Sileo.  It is the first and only FDA-approved treatment of canine noise aversions.  We would love to discuss if this medication or another is right for your dog.  Call us at 573-875-3647

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