Contributed by Sarah Frazier, 9 to 5 Pets
This summer has been stressful for all of us. And while it’s important to relax, as responsible pet owners, we need to look ahead as the hurricane season progresses. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, a division under the National Weather Service, has stated that the 2020 hurricane season will most likely have above average activity, in frequency and severity of storms from the summer on through October. Unfortunately many pets experience anxiety with storms and exhibit symptoms from pacing and shaking to howling and urinating. Some dogs may even panic and become destructive or accidentally hurt themselves attempting to hide or run away. Dogs may sense a storm building and become anxious before we even hear thunder or rain. And this anxiety can get worse throughout the season as the storms become more consistent.
One simple solution relies on training them to remain calm through positive reinforcement. For example, training them to lay down near you and staying rather than panicking and running away or attempting to crawl all over you. Some dogs may just need to be distracted with their favorite toys or treats!
Another form of comfort pet owners can offer is to identify a space where their pet feels safer. This may have to do with the dimensions or contents of the space, such as a crate or dog beds, or how loud or visible the storm is from that spot. For example, my twelve year old plott hound, Bailey, who really dislikes travel, storms, and other loud nauseous such as fireworks, prefers to lay in my windowless half bath with the fan on to help drown out the storm.
Something that has also brought her comfort before and has supposedly helped many others is a sort of compression shirt. Specifically for Bailey I have used the Thundershirt. But many kinds are available that claim to reduce anxiety and discomfort similarly to the swaddling of a baby. For severe anxiety arounds storms, your vet may recommend a calming supplement or medication that works for your pet’s needs. Many of these treatments are available easily in stores or online from a variety of brands in chews, drops, and pills. Bailey, during extreme anxiety, benefits from Vetriscience Laboratories’ “Composure” chews. But importantly, many dogs like Bailey will not eat after attacks of anxiety have begun. So it’s important to begin supporting and treating your anxious buddy at the first sign of a storm. And it is even more important if you go the route of a calming medication, to consult with your vet first and make sure you dose your pet correctly for their size and weight.
Of course we’ll all want to get outside and active when the storms have passed. But it’s important to remember to check in with your pet in sunny weather too, especially in Florida!
Heat Stroke Risks, Recognition, & Prevention:
North Florida is just now coming out of a heat wave. But the temperatures are still dangerous if you don’t look out for yourself and your pet! This is especially important for dogs with thicker coats or dogs that are extremely active as heat stroke can lead to comas or even death due to damage to internal organs, which vets can test for after such an event.
Signs of Overheating & Possible Heat Stroke in Dogs & Cats:
- Excessive panting and drooling
- Very red or very pale gums and tongue
- Vomiting and Diarrhea
- An Inability to Urinate
- Seizure and Collapse or even Coma
You can help prevent this by always making sure your pet has access to plenty of cool drinking water and shade or an air conditioned space. If your pet begins exhibiting symptoms, remove them from the hot environment immediately and do not attempt to use ice or ice cold water as it may shock them. Offer your pet water and spray them down with it as well , the use of a fan may also help. Most importantly if your pet has an incident, see a vet!