A fear of thunder and other loud bangs can cause some dog’s extreme distress. With the use of certain dog obedience training methods and some drugs we can desensitise dogs.
There are drugs that can help us to relax an anxious dog. The veterinary drug of choice is one that comes from the benzodiazepine family, an anxiolytic drug. Usually available under a prescription, wherever you are in the world, the drug is distributed under several names. The following are the more common brands diazepam sin receta:
Alprazolam (Xanax)(Xanax XR)( Nirvam), Diazepam (Valium)(Diastat), Clonazepam (Klonopin), Lorazepam (Ativan), Flurazepam (Dalmane). Your vet will discuss side effects and the dangers of exceeding recommended dosage and duration of treatments.
The drugs are all addictive and will lead to with drawl issues if given for periods longer than advised by your vet. You may experience extreme mood swings and be wary of being bitten by a dog suffering these symptoms.
Another drug, a member of the tricyclics antidepressant (TCA) chemical class, usage of which is becoming more common, is Clomipramine (Anafranil). The veterinary name for this drug is Clomicalm, and is used for both antidepressant and anxiolytic treatments, including panic attacks.
I did not tell you this and I will deny it if asked, but ask your vet to prescribe the human version of this drug (Clomipramine) as it costs around a quarter of the veterinary drug.
Natural and Homeopathic treatments
An over the counter hormone used by people for insomnia treatment has shown promising results for treatment of noise phobia in animals. This is Melatonin.
Most health shops and pharmacies stock melatonin and recommended dosage for most dogs is 1.5mg for dogs under 20 lbs/9 kilos, 2 to 3 mg. For dogs between 20 and 40 lbs/ 9 to15 kilos, and 6mg, for dogs over 40 lbs/15 kilos.
The dose can be administered as soon as you detect any signs of rising distress. Watch the dog to see its reactions as the storm approaches. You may need to repeat the melatonin dosage in some cases.
As production of melatonin is not controlled, quality can vary. Holistic stores or holistic vets often stock a higher quality product. Some dogs have been found to respond favourably to a dose of a homeopathic remedy, Phosphorous PHUS 30C, available in health stores.
The fact that you should not touch this compound with your fingers worries me. Dosage instructions have you depositing 3 or 4 pellets into the back of the dog’s throat. The dose is repeated every 15 minutes until you see signs that the dog is calming down, and then you stop.
I am being reassured by homeopathy practitioners that it is safe for your dog and has no side effects. I am also being advised that if the Phosphorous does not seem to work you may try Aconitum Napellus 30C. It is administered in the same way as Phosphorous.
Common remedies are: Rescue Remedy, Calming Essence or Five Flower Formula. All are made from a selection of flowers. Try one remedy at a time and see which works better.
If none work then you might try single flower remedies such as Mimulus, or Rock Rose. If yo ufind an improvement then you can start combining the single flower dose with the multi flower remedies to achieve a good balance.
The research done on this therapy indicates that playing live harp music worked to calm affected dogs in over 95% of cases. Playing recorded harp music was effective in over 87% of cases.
Both of these wraps are made from elasticised material and Velcro and are designed to fit tightly around the dogs shoulders and torso and produces a feeling of security and calmness in the dog.
Crate training, positive rewards, desensitization, and calming reassurance are all techniques that, with or without drug or natural medicines, can go a long way to totally curing noise phobias.
But consistency and a lot of patience is required and whilst you are working on the behaviour modification, you may need to combine this with some natural or holistic remedies. Dog obedience training methods, including the click and treat or positive reward system, is used to crate train the dog and for behaviour modification training.
Desensitization works on the basis of introducing taped storm noises under controlled conditions and gradually increasing the noise level until the dog can happily ignore the reason for his anxiety. Calming reassurance involves the dog’s owner brushing the dog with long, slow, light brush strokes from head to tail during the storm. This tends to settle and calm the dog.
As outlined above, there are several ways of alleviating your dog’s anxieties. Taking the least intrusive options first, such as the flower remedies combined with dog obedience training methods, and working up to the last resort, the stronger drugs, you can find a level where your dog responds and begins to relax before and during severe thunder storms and can start getting over his fear of thunder.