Pet Anxiety

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  • It’s a Smoky Situation…

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    While we usually speak on the dangers and possible pet anxiety-triggers caused by summer storms, it’s important to be aware that forest fires can also bring stress to your pet. Lately, many of the areas in west coast region have been in flames due to forest and brush fires, and it’s not just the flames that are destructive- fire smoke can travel hundreds of miles, affecting the air quality throughout a whole region and forcing our pets to stay inside.

    For pets that are accustomed to consistent time outside, posting up indoors may spur on added anxiety or destructive behavior. To combat this, we suggest our ThunderShirt, ThunderToy and ThunderTreat to help calm your pet and keep them occupied as the smoke clears. While short trips to answer nature’s call are inevitable, keep in mind that heavy smoke can take a toll on our pet’s respiratory systems just as it can on ours. Additionally, if your home is in danger of a fire and you are forced to evacuate, the hustle and bustle of packing your things can spark anxious behavior in your dog. Consider using ThunderShirt when packing and to take with you to a safe location to help your dog stay calm and relaxed.

    Live in an area prone to forest fires? Here’s some safety tips for you and your furry friends!

    If your area’s air quality is labeled “unhealthy”

    • Shelter in place, stay indoors.
    •  Keep you and your pet hydrated to progress a cough and help prevent smoky air from settling in the lungs
    •  Use air conditioning if possible, to help filter air throughout a house
    •  Keep all doors and windows shut in both home and vehicles, if in a vehicle make sure the air conditioner is set to reticulate the air
    •  Humidifiers will help the air quality in a home or building

    If You Are Forced to Evacuate

    Plan ahead for a safe place for your pet
    Evacuation shelters generally don’t accept pets and for this reason it’s important to plan ahead to ensure that your pets and family will have a safe place to stay. Research hotels and motels outside your immediate area for pet policies and ask friends and relatives outside the area if you and your pets can stay with them in case of a disaster.

    Proper Identification and Updated Vaccinations
    Having your pet licensed AND microchipped can protect your pet and help identify them if they were to become lost. Also, keep your pet’s vaccinations current, and keep the records handy.

    Leave early and take your pet
    One of the most important things to do if you are evacuating your home is to take your pets with you because you may be forced to stay away longer than anticipated. In addition, leave early and don’t wait for mandatory evacuation orders because if emergency officials have to evacuate you, you might be told to leave your pets behind.

    If you are away
    The risk of a fire may strike when you’re away from home. Make arrangements in advance with a trusted neighbor (who is comfortable with your pets and knows where in the home they are likely to be) to take them and meet you at a specified location.

    Picture perfect
    Have a photograph taken of you with your pets to show proof of ownership should you become separated.

    Pet carriers 
    Have pet carriers ready that are the correct sizes for each of your pets. Make sure each carrier is labeled with your contact information, should you become separated from your pet.

    Prepare an emergency kit
    Have a pet emergency kit prepared and ready for a disaster like a forest fire. This kit should have:

    • Three-plus days supply food and food bowls, water and two weeks of your pet’s medications
    • A ThunderShirt
    • Litter boxes with litter, if you have cats
    • Extra leashes and collars
    • Vaccination and medical records
    • Photos and descriptions of each pet
    • Pet first aid kit and pet first aid book

    Emergency numbers:
    If you have to evacuate at the last minute and cannot take your pets, don’t be a hero and return to the danger zone to try to rescue them.  Contact a trained professional rescue team, such as your local animal humane society.

    (tips adapted via)

  • Pets Can Suffer From Empty Nest Syndrome Too

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    We are happy to announce that we have another guest blogger today! Take it away Sandy!

     

     Pets really enjoy the summer months as much as people do simply because the kids are home from school and there’s lots of activities and outings to keep them engaged and happy to be around the people they love the most.

    Then September rolls around and children go back to school or off to college and the sudden emptiness in the home can leave them feeling very lonely and depressed – and often anxious too.

    According to Professor Nicholas Dodman, director of the small animal behavior clinic at Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine in Grafton, MA at least one in six dogs will exhibit symptoms of separation anxiety or display increased levels if they are already prone to the condition, along with a countless number of cats.

    “Dogs and cats that enjoy human interaction and affection can become psychologically unglued especially if their best human friend in the household happens to be one of the kids and suddenly that person “disappears” and goes off to college. It definitely leaves a void in the pet’s lifestyle,” explains Dodman. “The same applies when kids go back to school and suddenly their lives are so filled with extra mural activities that they no longer have the same amount of time for fun that includes the family pet.”

    Dodman cited the a canine client who had slept in with his teenage best friend since puppyhood and when the boy went off to college, the dog found himself sleeping alone in the empty bedroom.  He started howling at night looking for a new place to sleep.

    This dog would have been an ideal candidate for a ThunderShirt, put on at bedtime to help ease his anxiety and get him into a different sleeping routine.

    Cats can get equally upset but because they don't often display their feelings, people are often unaware that they are feeling anxious and stressed in similar situations too.

    Reduced appetite or complete loss of appetite is a sign that your pet may be suffering from empty nest syndrome.

    When it comes to dogs, signs of stress and anxiety can include sudden pacing and even at attempt to escape by scratching the back of a door or pulling down a blind, trying to get into a trashcan or chewing on a couch.

    For a feline perspective a cat   that is usually friendly and comes to greet their favorite people may stop doing this and lie and sleep a lot more. Some can also begin grooming excessively, pulling out chunks of fur until their skin is raw.

    Of course there are ThunderShirts for cats too and it's a good idea to put one your cat (or dog) if they are going to be left home along for long periods until they are better adjusted to the new dynamics of the household.

    Exercise is a great stress-reliever too. Be sure to schedule walks with your dog several times a day – even they are short ones and amp up games with your cat. Wand toys keep them very engaged.  There are also battery-operated toys that can be pre-set so that they can play by themselves throughout the day too.

     

    Sandy Robins is an award-winning author and respected Pet Lifestyle Expert.

    Sandy and Cat

  • Tips to Keep Your Pets Calm on 4th of July

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    Check out this video of our tips for the 4th of July:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YJr3Ls5RdQI&feature=c4-overview&list=UUuIymvC4yigIVyLy_srg25g

  • ThunderShirt works really well on this cool cat!

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    We love when ThunderShirt fans post fun videos of our products in action! This video that posted to YouTube.com last year has recently gone viral! In it, one “Scaredy cat” tries on his new ThunderShirt for the very first time, and immediately freezes, then flops. The cat’s owners try repeatedly to stand him back up, nearly a dozen times during the hilarious video, but the reaction is always the same- freeze, followed by flop.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QOcfS7xwVfY

    While this video is pretty entertaining, there is no need to worry. The ThunderShirt is not causing discomfort; cats are not used to being dressed and need time to adjust to feeling “swaddled” by the shirt.

    If you are just introducing your cat to the ThunderShirt, keep in mind that cats are amazingly sensitive to touch and sometimes require a little more adjustment time in the beginning. If a cat initially appears uncomfortable or does the “Freeze & Flop”, we recommend putting the ThunderShirt on your cat with a very light pressure for about 5-10 minutes so they can get used to it. Engaging your cat in play with their favorite toy or laser pointer is also a great way to get them moving and used to the ThunderShirt.

    Do you use ThunderShirt on your cat? We’d love to hear from you! Feel free to comment below or reach out to us via social media!

     

    Facebook: facebook.com/ThunderShirt

    Twitter: @ThunderShirt

    http://www.twitter.com/thundershirt

  • Guest Blogger: Mikkel Becker!

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    We’re thrilled that well-known and respected pet behavior and training expert, and Vetstreet.com contributor, Mikkel Becker is here to share her advice on how to best prevent and treat pet anxiety related to the upcoming 4th of July festivities! Take it away, Mikkel!

    Fireworks are exciting to many people, but our dogs see them differently. The sight and sound of the patriotic displays we love terrify our dogs. They seem like an attack, an experience so frightful that days around the Fourth of July are the ones most likely to lose a dog, as they run away in terror.

    It makes sense from a survival standpoint for a dog to react fearfully to fireworks, because in the natural world, loud bangs and flashes of light may signal a life-threatening situation animals need to avert in order to stay alive.  The fear they experience is obvious:  Our dogs will be shaking, trembling, panting, pacing, drooling, hiding, running away, attempting to escape, whining and vocalizing.

    When dogs are afraid, they can injure themselves when attempting to escape. The people around a terrified dog are also at risk, because a scared dog is more likely to bite defensively.

    Stress and the body’s reaction to it has damaging effects when experienced over prolonged periods of time, damaging the immune system and making the body more susceptible to disease.  Stress also decreases reproductive hormones, increasing a dog’s risk of cardiovascular disease. (http://www.livescience.com/2967-animals-stressed.html)

    I know firsthand how horrific fear can be.  When I was a young girl I was afraid of air travel, so much so that I would have panic attacks both in the days leading up to travel and during plane trips. Family and friends would attempt to get me to understand that my fear had little basis, but their words didn’t help.  At the time I had flown to more than 48 countries safely, but I was still afraid.  That fear is similar to what many dogs go through: They experience fireworks displays with no real harm done, but the fear remains. Although we may believe that our pets’ fear of fireworks lacks reason, to the dog, the situation is very real.

    These dogs are in a state of distress.

    To overcome my fear of airplanes and get to the confident state I’m in now as a frequent flyer, I worked to change the way I viewed plane trips, as well as incorporating calming techniques to relax myself during flights. Today as a dog trainer, I help dogs overcome the fear that feels very real to them by changing their perspective and using calming techniques.

    If your pet experiences fear around the Fourth of July, there are some practical ways you can decrease your pet’s panic and help him or her relax. The right training will not only keep your pet safe during the days around the holiday, but will also boost your pet’s quality of life and promote the bonding between you and your pet.

    The top recommendation I give to clients with anxious pets is to use the ThunderShirt, a pressure wrap that’s a non-invasive, natural way to calm pets.  The ThunderShirt is the top anxiety-reducer recommended to pets at the North Idaho Animal Hospital, where I teach training classes. I’ve seen the dramatic difference in dogs and cats on many occasions. Pressure wraps are calming to pets. Just as swaddling a baby or giving a tight hug to a close friend is comforting, pets are similarly comforted by pressure hugs. Dogs respond amazingly well to the gentle pressure the ThunderShirt provides. The ThunderShirt works on 80 percent of dogs. (And if it doesn’t work, as I remind my clients, there’s no harm done to your dog or your wallet, since ThunderShirt offers a money-back guarantee.)

    The ThunderShirt provides immediate relief. I’ve watched time and time again as dog’s whole body relaxes and outward symptoms of anxiety, such as trembling and panting, decrease shortly after the ThunderShirt is on. For best results, I have clients use the ThunderShirt at the onset of stress, such as when the pet first hears fireworks in the distance. The faster fear is addressed and comfort is applied, the less panic a pet will face. But even if the pet is already in a full blown anxiety response when an unforeseeable event occurs, such as when a surprise crackling and bangs when fireworks next door suddenly set off, the ThunderShirt will still do its job and calm the pet at whatever stage of anxiety they are in. The ThunderShirt also works for other stress evoking situations, such as trips to the veterinarian, car rides and thunderstorms.

    In addition to the ThunderShirt, there are training tactics that can help pets remain stress-free during the season of fireworks and thunderstorms. One of the best tactics is to prove your pet with a comforting den-like hideout they can retreat to when fireworks are being set off. When pets are in a panic, many seek out a place of refuge to hide in. Closets and bathrooms make ideal hiding areas, because they’re smaller in size and usually dark. Make these areas as comfortable as possible; giving the pet blankets and even hiding areas inside, such as their regular crate or a chair with a blanket draped over the top for them to hide under. Keep the windows of the area and surrounding rooms closed to prevent the pet from catching the flashes of light that accompanies the sounds of fireworks or storms.

    Drowning out the sound of fireworks is another helpful tactic. Classical music has been shown to be naturally calming for dogs. Play it loud enough to make the crashes of fireworks less abrupt and to drown out some of the background noise.

    You can also change your pet’s perception of the fireworks to make the noise symbolic of the onset of something pleasurable happening. Depending upon the dog, a food puzzle, a trick training session, fetch or a structured game of tug are all ways to change your pet’s association of the fireworks. Changing your pets focus, such as getting them to work towards getting food or engaging in play, changes their focus from fear to food acquisition and food. One trick I’ve used with my parent’s dog, Quixote, is to howl with him. The act of getting your dog to vocalize in a socially facilitated situation of howling along with a person immediately changes a pet’s focus. The more the pet associates fireworks with something they enjoy, the more relaxed the pet will be.

    Pets should never be left in an area where they can escape or injure themselves when the fireworks are happening. Unattended canines must be left in a doggy proofed area, such as a crate or enclosed area in their hideaway den when left alone. For dogs with a history of escape or panic when left alone, use constant supervision during fireworks season or leave them with a professional, such as a pet sitter, who can provide the comforting techniques to calm your pet while you’re away.

    When taking your pet outside to potty or when going out on walks on the days surrounding Independence Day, keep your pet on a leash or a long line to prevent escape and subsequent harm. Pets can be walked and taken outside with their ThunderShirt to make outings less frightening even with fireworks around. Exercise provides an outlet to channel excess energy in dogs; it also releases calming endorphins. If you use a regular flat collar, you may opt for a martingale type instead that tightens on the neck without choking the dog to prevent the animal from backing out of the collar on walks if startled. For pets who react to the sight of fireworks, consider using a  ThunderCap, which reduces the visual stimuli, making it less frightening.

    The Fourth of July doesn’t have to be a frightening experience for your pet. You can keep them safe and calm by using training tips, providing a safe and secure hideaway, and using the natural action of the ThunderShirt to calm your pet.

    -Mikkel Becker

    Mikkel Becker Low-Res

  • Strike a Pose!!!!

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    Ever tried to catch a picture of your dog and were unsuccessful? Have no fear? Here are three tips to ensure your pooch is picture perfect!

    1. Get ground cover

    Kneeling or lying on the ground to shoot from low viewpoints can be uncomfortable, especially on a wet day. Taking along some plastic sheeting to keep you dry will make the experience more bearable.

    2. Include their favorite toys

    Keeping your pet’s attention while you get your shots is always tricky, but most will have a favorite toy that you can use to keep them occupied. This prop might also give your shots extra character.

    3 Try some treats
    Sometimes your dog might need some encouragement. Arm yourself with a pocketful of treats that will get your dog to play along, and reward them when you get the shot you want.

    (via)

    Do you have a good pic of your dog? Send it or post on out Facebook page!

  • Guest Blogger: Sandy Robins!

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    We asked our friend, award-winning author and respected Pet Lifestyle Expert, Sandy Robins  to share her best advice for traveling this summer with cats... Take it away, Sandy!

    Sandy and Cat

     

    With the travel season around the corner, if you are planning a vacation, now is the time to make arrangements for your pets.

    When it comes to cats, most felines are homebodies and don’t really like a change in their domestic situation. So unless you have a reliable family member, friend or licensed pet sitter who can move in and keep them company, or you are comfortable checking them into a pet hotel, its important to make proper plans for them to travel with you too.

    When making travel arrangements for feline family members, it’s a good idea to purchase a second carrier so that your cat can differentiate between vacation travel and trips to the vet. Purchase the carrier at least a month in the advance and leave it lying around the house for her to discover on her own. Cats like to be in charge of their territory!

    If you are traveling by plane, be sure that the carrier meets your airline’s in-cabin specifications. And, further, be sure to make a reservation. Only a certain number of pets are allowed on each flight and you don’t want to arrive to discover that they have filled the pet quota for your flight.

    Even if your feline has sniffed out her carrier, traveling in it can be a scary experience because of the movement and the unfamiliar noises both at an airport and on the road. Also, remember vision from inside the carrier is obscured which can make a cat very uncomfortable.

    An excellent way of dealing with any travel-induced apprehension would be to put a ThunderShirt  on your feline while she is in transit to ease her anxiety and related stress. The ThunderShirt works on the principle mothers have used for centuries of  “wearing their babies” in a sling or blanket strapped close to the body so that the baby feels secure and bonded with the parent. Cat behaviorists say that this principle works well with cats too.

    But in the same way that the carrier should be left lying around the home for a good few weeks before travel, it’s a good idea to let your cat wear the shirt around the home in advance of the actual excursion. Some cats freeze when any form of clothing is put on them. Start with very short intervals and slowly extend the duration.

    Also be sure to give her treats when it’s on so that she associates the garment with something good! The ThunderShirt comes in different sizes. Be sure to size it correctly because although you want the swaddling effect, you certainly don’t want it too tight!

    Further, whether you are traveling by plane or car make sure that your cat has access to water at all times. It’s a good idea to freeze a bowl of water in advance of travel so that your cat can lick the ice as it melts. This also prevents spillage inside the carrier. It’s also a good idea to add a few drops of Rescue Remedy to the water bowl to further keep your furry passenger calm. Most veterinarians will recommend this over any kind of tranquilizer as pills can wear off and disorient your pet even more. Not to mention that any travel delays en route will only further exacerbate the problem.

    Cats are very clean animals and get stressed if their environment is not clean. So be sure to line her carrier with a puppy pee pad so that if she has an accident, the pad will absorb the mishap and leave the surface of the pad dry. There are also portable litter boxes if you are traveling by road.

    Whether you are staying with family or friends or checking into an hotel, it’s a good idea to let your feline wear her ThunderShirt at her destination to further settle her anxiety of being in unfamiliar surroundings. And, if you are traveling to a part of the country that experiences severe thunder storms, once again the shirt will come in handy.

    Finally, never leave home without ensuring that your cat is micro chipped, her information registered with the company’s database and also ensure she is wearing a collar with an ID tag with up-to-date information. It’s important to double up because people will look at an ID tag first. But collars can come off. That’s where the microchip will kick in. Remember proper identification is a lost cat’s ticket home.

     

    -Sandy Robins

  • Thundershirt Relieves Pets’ Spooky, Scary Halloween Anxiety

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    Thundershirt is reminding all pet parents that Halloween can be a common cause of dog and cat anxiety and uneasiness. High volume trick-or-treaters and increased doorbell rings paired with flamboyant costumes and decorations can lead to barking or erratic behavior. For pets prone to noise or crowd anxiety, Thundershirt provides an effective, simple solution.

    With its patent-pending design, Thundershirt’s gentle, constant pressure has a dramatic calming effect for dogs and cats if they are anxious or fearful. Anxiety experts believe that pressure has a calming effect on the nervous system and releases calming hormones like endorphins or oxytocins.

    Thundershirt also encourages pet parents to keep the following in mind as the “scary” holiday approaches:

    • Keep Halloween candy out of your pet’s reach. Candy and chocolate consumption can be harmful to pets when ingested.
    • Be weary of costumes. Uncomfortable fabrics or constrictive outfits can cause pets unnecessary anxiety and stress or make it hard for them to move, breathe, bark or meow.
    • Make sure all cords and wires from lights and decorations are safely away from your pets. If chewed, pets can suffer cuts, burns or shocks.
    • When opening the door for trick-or-treaters, take care that your cat or dog doesn't dart outside.
    • Don’t forget ID’s! Make sure your dog or cat has proper identification. If for any reason your pet escapes and becomes lost, a collar and tags and/or a microchip is key.

     

    Read the full story here: http://www.prweb.com/releases/2012/10/prweb9961823.htm

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