When I retired after 34 years at a major corporation, I had one last thing on my Bucket List. Get a dog.
I knew I wanted an older dog so I went to a rescue site and there was a beautiful 5-year-old Treeing Walker Coonhound, who needed a “furever” home. She had lost her home through no fault of her own and she turned out to be the perfect dog for me.
My vet suggested that I meet with a Veterinary Behavioral Specialist to address her fear. He explained that dogs get worse with age when they are so fearful. An older dog can perish from a fear-induced heart attack.
The Behavior Specialist came to my house and presented a plan to manage this fear during the summer, then work toward trying to desensitize her to thunder in the fall. I’d like to share these suggestions so that others can find some relief for their dogs.
First, we created a den for Daisy Mae. It is the floor of a closet, where she had gone to hide. I put a bed, blankets and pillows on the floor. I set up an IPod with CDs from a collection called Through a Dog’s Ear. They can be found on ITunes. This closet is part of a room that only has one window. I close the window blinds and the hanging clothes dampen the noise. Also, I have a Thunder Shirt wrapped tightly around her. In the room, I have a diffuser with Adaptil Spray that is on constantly. This product emits a smell that is similar to an appeasing pheromone of a nursing Mother Dog. Daisy Mae also wears a lightweight collar that emits this smell.
The den has become her safe place and she readily goes there when she senses hard rain or a storm. The Vet also prescribed a low dosage of Xanax, which I give to her about 2 hours before I think there will be a storm. This drug has stopped the shaking, which was so painful to watch. I was also cautioned that just trying to hold her during a storm was giving her mixed messages. She could have sensed that I was also afraid.
I am keeping a daily journal of Daisy’s behavior so that the Behavioral Specialist can evaluate her progress. It seems like the Xanax is working because Daisy will sometimes come out of the den to eat even during a storm. Previously, she never would have left her den during a storm.
I am also giving her 2 capsules (100mg) daily of a natural supplement called l-Theanine made by Swanson. It is a calming supplement. Not all of the L-Theanine products are safe for dogs. Avoid any products that have xylitol in them. Xylitol is a sugar substitute that can be toxic to dogs.
Another wonderful tool has been the new TAGG GPS Plus pet tracker. It attaches to her collar and through an app on my phone, I will always know where she is. Certainly we know that coonhounds can run if they catch a scent off leash. Should that happen, not only do I get a text message, I can easily find her whereabouts on the phone app. There are several other great features on this product to track her daily activity and her temperature. It is modestly priced and the monthly subscription price is well worth the peace of mind it gives me. The system can be purchased online.
I hope these suggestions will be useful to other coonhound owners. I hope they can find a Veterinary Behavioral Specialist in their area to ease their dogs’ thunder fears.
American College of Veterinary Behaviorists
Through A Dog’s Ear:
TAGG GPS plus
The opinions expressed in this guest blog are those of the author(s) and are not necessarily endorsed by Coonhound and Foxhound Companions.