The summer brings a season of fun for people with pool parties, houseguests and vacations. However, for some pets, these changes can cause anxiety. This month's topic will discuss the various summer situations that might cause stress in pets and how to relieve these anxieties.
Separation Anxiety - this is one of the most common summer stresses in animals. Summers bring vacations and unfortunately pets can't always come along. Many pets will become depressed when their owners are not home. The Humane Society recommends several solutions to help with separation anxiety. One is when going on vacation, leave an article of clothing out or that smells like you like an old t-shirt that you've slept in recently. Creating a safe spot or with clothes and toys for distraction can sometimes help limit animals ability to be destructive. In some cases drug therapy might be an option and veterinarians can prescribe tranquilizer medications to help keep your pet calm. In other situations, leaving your pet at a boarding facility or family friend or neighbor might be a good solution too.
Traveling anxiety - in some cases your dog or cat may be able to go on vacation with you. According to a study by AAA and Best Western International, more than half of U.S. pet owners take their cats and dogs with them when they travel. If you decide that your pet should tag along, it's important that you make sure the trip has as minimal stress as possible. It's important to visit your vet 10 days prior to traveling to ensure your pet is healthy to travel. As far as plane rides go, the ASCPA recommends that unless your pet is small enough to travel under the seat, it would be best to leave them at home. Taking short test rides in the car will help to see how your pet will be and help you prepare better. In order to be safe while on vacation, it is recommended that a second tag be added to your pet's collar that says the address of where you are staying in case your pet gets out. When on the trip, make sure to take a few pit stops to let your pet out to use the bathroom and get some exercise.
Meeting New Faces - the summer months also bring new guests into the home. Some pets can be sensitive to new people. To make introductions as stress free as possible make sure your pet is leashed or contained and use treats. It also helps if the visitor gives treats too. If your animal is shy, have guests approach pet slowly. Create a safe spot or room you can put your pet if they get overwhelmed by the guests.
Other general anxiety relief suggestions for summer or anytime include:
Food: Royal Canin makes a CALM prescription food that has L-tryptophan and nicotinamide (vitamin B3).
Exercise: Going for walks or throwing the ball can get rid of energy and nerves that come with anxiety in pets.
Pheromone Therapy: Species-specific pheromones (Feliway for cats or Adaptil for dogs) can be another alternative to medication
Products: Thundershirts can be used in many situations to aid in making animals feel warm and secure