While most of us look forward to the warm summer weather and being able to enjoy more activities outside, there are unfortunately some parts of this season that many pets aren't particularly fond of. For some of our four-legged family members, summer brings anxiety as we have more loud thunderstorms and fireworks than any other time of year. Especially in the Queen City so far, we've had quite a number of thunderstorms roll through already! In summer we also tend to travel more and have extra company which can also be a cause of stress for many pets.
Thankfully, there are some non-medication options to help pets that have mild to moderate levels of anxiety overcome these situations. Our veterinarians use all of these products on a regular basis and often in combination. All of the below are available at Wascana Animal Hospital without a prescription:
1. Zylkene. Zylkene is an oral capsule that contains alpha-S1 tryptic casein, commonly known as alpha-casozepine, an ingredient derived from milk protein that has calming properties. This supplement can be given in the short term (if you know your pet is going to be around fireworks, will be around new people, or will be traveling). Zylkene can also be given long term daily throughout the whole year or just for the summer as needed. It does not currently have any known interactions with other medications and is well-tolerated. Capsules can be administered whole or broken open and mixed with canned food or treats.
2. Adaptil Diffusers & Spray for Dogs. Adaptil is a product that contains dog appeasing pheromone (DAP). DAP mimics the natural appeasing pheromones that mother dogs use to comfort and reassure their puppies, therefore comforting dogs in their own language. At Wascana Animal Hospital, we use these diffusers in each of our canine exam rooms and in our boarding facility to reduce stress and anxiety in our canine patients. It is available as an aerosol spray that you can use on blankets, furniture bedding, and inside travel kennels. It is also available as a diffuser that can be plugged into an electrical outlet. The pheromone then is dispersed into the air throughout the living area and each diffuser covers approx 750 sq ft. Does your dog carry its anxiety with it everywhere? Thankfully there is also an Adaptil Collar that your dog can wear so that no matter where they go with you, the DAP goes too!
3. Feliway Diffusers & Spray for Cats. Feliway works similarly to Adaptil but is feline-specific. Feliway mimics the natural facial pheromone that happy cats use to mark their territory as safe and secure. Feliway is also available in a spray for blankets, bedding and inside cat carriers as well as in a plug-in diffuser.
4. Thundershirts. The idea behind the ThunderShirt (which pets wear like a light jacket) is that the design applies a gentle, constant pressure on a dog's or cat's torso. Using pressure to relieve anxiety has been a common practice for years. It is believed by many experts that this type of pressure works in a similar manner to swaddling an infant or people with autism using pressure to reduce persistent anxiety. The Thundershirt can be put on prior or during a stressful event to help reduce anxiety.
All of the above are excellent options for helping to reduce stress in pets. However is some cases where the stress and anxiety are at a very high level, where the anxiety is constant or daily, and/or if the pet is potentially harming itself, others or physical property, an examination and consultation with one of our veterinarians is always recommended. In these more advanced cases, behavioural modification, medication and acupuncture therapy may be required. As always, our team is ready to help so be sure to contact us if you have any additional questions or concerns!