When our pets are anxious we cannot help but feel bad for them and want to help them. There are many causes of anxiety in our pets: separation, loud noises, new people, etc. Your pet does not have to live with this anxiety for the rest of his or her life as there are many treatments available.
Behavioral modification is the most difficult method but can be the most rewarding for your pet and for you, the owner. There are many different techniques but most involve using treats or some food they absolutely love. Simply put, when the source of the anxiety occurs, thunder for example, they get a treat to associate the thunder with something they like. Over time and with a lot of practice your pet may start to like or at least tolerate the noise that made them anxious before.
Unfortunately for some of our pets behavior modification doesn’t work because they are so fixated on their fear that they won’t pay attention to anything else. In these cases other therapies might be tried. Currently there are two prescription medications approved by the FDA for anxiety: clomipramine and fluoxetine (Prozac). For some pets these medications work very well but they may take 4 to 6 weeks to become effective. There are also many other medications not approved by the FDA but still widely used by veterinarians for anxiety. Commonly used medications include alprazolam (Xanax), Diazepam (Valium), paroxetine (Paxil), buspirone (Buspar), sertraline (Zoloft), and amitriptyline.
If drug and behavior modification don’t work there are many other alternative treatments available. First is the Thundershirt which uses gentle constant pressure that feels like a constant hug for your pet. There are also devices that use pheromones to calm your pet. Comfort Zone distributes pheromones in the air, and calming collars have pheromones on them so they may be smelled by your pet. There are also homeopathic chews, drops, and supplements that may work for your pet.
With the proper combination of behavioral modification, medication, supplements, and devices, your pet’s anxiety can be treated. It is up to you the pet owner to find what works best so your pet may have a stress-free, happy and healthy life.