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Doc Sara
Doc Sara, Veterinarian
Category: Dog Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 952
Experience:  I am a dog and cat veterinarian with a lifetime of experience in our family veterinary hospital.
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We have a dog who is afraid of thunder and gunshot noise.

Customer Question

We have a dog who is afraid of thunder and gunshot noise. She is also afraid of small dogs that have a yippee voice, she will run and hide. She is a beautiful 7 year Bordor Collie. We adopted her and believe that she had been a breeder dog in the past.
We would appreciate any help. Thanks Lucille and Harry
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Dog Veterinary
Expert:  Doc Sara replied 1 year ago.

Good afternoon, I'm Dr. Sara. I'm a licensed veterinarian who works exclusively with dogs and cats. I'm sorry that Belle has such anxiety - I'm glad that you're looking for ways to help. There will be a delay of 5-10 minutes while I type out some thoughts for you.

~Dr. Sara

Expert:  Doc Sara replied 1 year ago.

Fear of loud noises like thunderstorms and fireworks is a very common complaint among pets. I've actually got two dogs who lose their minds with fear every Fourth of July when my town showcases the big fireworks display right across the road from my home. Here are some steps that I take to help my dogs relax:

Try to minimize the visual stimulus by placing them in a room with no windows or one with thick blinds that can be closed. The less they see, the less they have to fear. Great places for this tend to be basements (if it's finished or the dog is otherwise familiar with the basement), bathrooms, or bedrooms with thick curtains or blinds. For us, it's my master bedroom. We have three windows with very heavy blinds. Next, decrease the sound by playing some white noise such as a white noise machine (many smart phones have white noise apps - although you'll need to hook the phone to a suitable set of speakers to make the noise loud enough.) For us, the window air conditioning unit in the bedroom is quite loud and sufficient to drown out fireworks.

After doing a physical exam, your vet can recommend herbal calming products like Composure Pro or Adaptil. These can work quite well in combination with the above mentioned strategies to head off anxiety before it starts. It's important to give the product and start the coping strategies before the anticipated event, as it's easier to prevent anxiety than to stop it once it gets rolling. Thunder shirts are also fantastic for situational anxieties like storm and firework phobias as well as car rides and other travel situations.

In severe cases of anxiety I have prescribed alprazolam to use in times of need. It's likely that your vet would be willing to do the same after examining Belle and discussing her anxieties. For my patients, it depends on the level of anxiety that they are experiencing and how successful (or not) I think the above strategies will be.

The issue of her fear is going to be a bit more complicated to tackle. There are many factors involved in inter-dog issues. My suggestion for any social stresses between dogs is both to avoid the trouble situations as much as possible, and to contact a local veterinarian experienced in behavior or ask your vet for a referral to a trusted local trainer.

Here are some links to products that I mentioned:

Please let me know what other questions I can answer for you

~Dr. Sara


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