Fourth of July fireworks, thunderstorms, owners traveling or going off on day trips — there are plenty of reasons your pet might get more stressed out in the summer. Loud noises and alterations to the daily routines are normal triggers for anxiety in cats and dogs.
In the midst of long summer months, keep an eye on your pet for any signs of stress and anxiety, such as increased vocalization, pacing, panting, drooling or unexplained lapses in potty training. If Fido or Fluffy seems a bit more wound up than usual, here are six ways to help him ‘chill out’ and enjoy the season.
Let’s face it: No matter how hard you try to eat healthy and live well, these days you just can’t avoid all of the harmful toxins in the air you breathe, the water you drink and the soil your food is grown in.
So chances are your liver is over-worked and struggling to do its job. If you don’t take action now, your health could continue seriously suffer.
1. A Calming Embrace
There’s something about being snugly wrapped up that can be comforting for many creatures — both human and animal. Compression-style shirts have become popular anxiety relievers for dogs and cats, such as the Calming Coat or Thunder Shirt.
These Velcro-attached jackets slip onto your animal and apply gentle, constant pressure, which many pets find relaxing. Choose the size carefully, based on your dog or cat’s weight, and follow the manufacturer’s suggestions for fit and attachment.
Don’t wait for the next thunderstorm to try it on — introduce it to your furry pal during a stress-free time, when you are available to offer a treat or two and positive reinforcement.
2. A Little Help From Nature
You don’t have to turn to risky pharmaceuticals to calm your anxious pet. Many natural products can serve to boost their body’s stress response and instill a sense of calm. Bach’s Rescue Remedy is a popular, natural solution for soothing anxious dogs or cats, especially those reactive to loud noises or being home alone. It’s easily dispensed by adding it to your pet’s water bowl.
Charlie’s Choice® ProCalm PLUS™ for Cats and Dogs is another natural solution offered in a delicious soft chew. It’s comprised of a blend of calming herbs, including passion flower, valerian, and chamomile, along with additional nutrients such as B vitamins and vitamin E. It can be used for dogs or cats, either daily or in times of increased stress.
3. Not So Quiet, Please
If your dog or cat will be facing a day home alone, leaving some everyday background noises on can bring a sense of familiarity and minimize distractions. Try leaving the TV or talk radio on at low volume, running the dishwasher or laundry machine, or keeping a fan or white noise machine (like this one) going.
Research has shown that dogs respond well to music. There are many pet-specific soundtracks available (click here for some good options), and research has shown that reggae or soft rock tends to have a positive effect on animals.
Another popular option with both pets and animal shelters is this music prepared by singer and songwriter ‘gnash’, which he created specifically to soothe his anxious dog, Daisy. Check out his tunes here.
4. All Tuckered Out
When you anticipate an upcoming event that might disturb your pet — such as predicted thunderstorms, or a day you’re planning to go off to the beach — try giving your cat or dog some extra exercise ahead of time. A longer walk or romp in the park for your canine, or some extra playtime with your kitty, can help tire them out, ideally making them more interested in sleep and less reactive to outside stimulants.
5. Be The Face of Calm
Both dogs and cats are very keen observers of their human’s behavior, and will pick up even the slightest change in moods and emotion. While you should always comfort and reassure your pet when they are exhibiting unease, be careful not to overdo it such that you add to their alarm. Walk a fine line between being comforting, yet casual enough to send the message that there’s nothing to worry about here.
6. Provide A Soothing Retreat
Many dogs find comfort in their kennels, and cats often like to hide under a bed or side table when they are distressed. If your pet enjoys having a little hideaway, make sure it’s available during stressful times. If your pet doesn’t have a routine comfort spot they turn to, consider helping them hunker down in a bedroom or other safe, comfortable place. This can be particularly welcome if you are entertaining guests.
However, you know your pet best; for some, the idea of being shut away from the family and activity would elevate their panic. Don’t force a retreat if it’s not a familiar pattern, or your pet is reacting adversely to the idea.
Remember to check in with your veterinarian if your dog or cat’s unsettled behavior seems to persist, or isn’t tied to an obvious cause. But with a little extra love and attention, your pet will sail right through any slightly bothersome aspects of summer, and instead enjoy the nicer weather and extra family times.
Debbie Swanson is a freelance writer, published in numerous national and local outlets. An avid vegetarian, animal lover and reader, she loves learning about healthy eating and finding natural cures for everyday ailments.