How does the change of seasons affect your pet? A change in barometric pressure can be quite stressful in dogs and cats. Thunderstorms can cause anxiety – from their perception it could be the end of the world. They panic and try to hide. Some dogs might take shelter in a closet, or in a bathtub. Digestion could be affected as well – resulting in soft stool, excessive gas, and a noisy/colicky stomach. In cats there is an increased incidence of urinary tract infections and even blockages by mucous, crystals, or stones. This could end up needing emergency care.
What can we do to ease these symptoms and alleviate the stress? One choice would be Rescue Remedy. When using Rescue Remedy, in addition to drops in the mouth, you might try applying it by holding the remedy two to three feet over the body and allowing the drops to fall towards the body, through the auric field. Do this over the neck area, mid back, and base of tail. You could also use a spray in this way, taking care to avoid the head and eyes. This method is particularly useful with pets that resist oral applications. By traveling through the air over the body, the aura is cleansed, and a more powerful calming effect is achieved.
In addition to Rescue Remedy, pheromones may be helpful. In dogs, an appeasing pheromone is produced by the bitch when she has puppies. This calms the puppies when she is around. These pheromones have been isolated and are available in different applications (collars, sprays, diffusers). Some individuals are very responsive to these pheromones in stressful situations such as storms, separation or travel anxiety, and visits to the vet.
Another technique that can be helpful for dogs is to apply deep pressure over the shoulders and major joints. This is like a calming hug. The same effect can be achieved by using commercially available thunder wraps or anxiety suits. Similar techniques are being used with great success for autistic children. Temple Grandin, PhD, is autistic herself and describes the use of these techniques for humans and animals in her book, “Animals in Translation.”
Sudden behavioral changes in dogs – aggression, anxiety, seizures – could be linked to thyroid gland imbalances. Thyroid conditions can be triggered by food sensitivities or a reaction to a recent vaccine. To determine if this is the case, blood work should be done to assess the thyroid hormone levels, including thyroglobulin auto-antibodies. If this is indeed the issue, then thyroid medication and supplementation is required.
Behavioral changes can also be linked to poor digestion. The same chemicals that calm the brain are involved in the smooth functioning of the digestive system (brain/gut connection). If there is stress, anxiety results, digestion suffers, and visa-versa – setting up a vicious cycle.
Some supplements that could help with anxiety and stress in pets are melatonin, magnesium, passion flower, hops, and valerian root extract. These can be obtained and used separately or in combination.
A pheromone which is available for cats is the facial pheromone. Cats rub their chins against people or objects to mark their territory. Excessive rubbing can be observed as a sign of stress. To counteract this, a facial pheromone analog (as a spray or diffuser) can be used to permeate the environment and elicit calming. It can also be helpful to prevent or deter urinary marking and excessive vertical scratching. This pheromone can comfort a cat in an unknown or stressful situation (traveling, boarding, visit to the vet, new home, etc).
Excessive grooming in cats could also be a sign of stress – related to either a psychological cause (actual or perceived changes in the environment that appear as a threat) or a physical cause (urinary tract infection, mal-digestion, or impacted anal glands). Anal gland impaction – often an overlooked condition – can, especially in older cats, be associated with behavioral changes (such as running away from the litter box, showing discomfort, or relieving itself in new places outside the litter box). If these behaviors are observed, check with your vet to determine if the anal glands need to be expressed.
I hope these tips will be helpful in understanding behavioral changes that some pets might demonstrate and that the remedies suggested will assist in resolving them.
Dr. Pavel Mihok provides mobile integrative veterinary services in the entire metro area, Westchester, and Hudson Valley. By combining both holistic and traditional veterinary care, he can offer several different modalities such as: nutritional and neutraceutical counseling, homeopathy, essential oils, stone and crystal therapy, acupuncture, and Traditional Chinese Medicine. He can be reached by phone 203-770-7875 or via his website www.paulmihokdvm.com.