Dr. Patrick Mahaney Teams with pet360 and Thundershirt for Pet Anxiety Twitter Chat

July 12, 2012

Photo of Thundershirt Yellow Labrador Dog

Thundershirt Yellow Labrador Dog

Just like people, pets are prone to anxiety.  Unfortunately, unlike people, pets are not equipped to rationalize the reasons for which certain stimuli are causing their behaviors.  They cannot talk themselves down off of a ledge, practice their deep breathing exercises, or focus on a calming place and time in their lives.  An anxious pet may attempt to scape, destroy its environment, pace, pant, salivate, self-mutilate, vocalize, or show a variety of other signs.

Thunderstorms, fireworks, confinement away from a preferred person or animal companion, and other triggers can elicit anxiety in a pet.  In preparation for the onslaught of potential pyrotechnic pet trauma, I teamed with pet360 and Thundershirt for a Twitter chat about pet anxiety.   Here’s the wrap up our #PetAnxiety conversation courtesy of  PupPourri  (thank you for compiling the juicy bits).


Last night, I had the privilege of sitting in on a very informative Twitter Chat about Pet Anxiety. With summer storms with lots of thunder popping up daily and the 4th of July on the horizon, what a great topic to be covered

It was hosted by @Pet360 of Pet 360, Guest speakers were @PatrickMahaney a holistic veterinarian specializing in acupuncture/pain management & @Thundershirt for dogs and cats to help relieve their anxiety and calm them down during stressful situations.

Here are some of the questions and answers of the night:

Why does thunder scare dogs?

     *Loud noises, including thunder, stimulates a dogs basic instinct to flee for safety.

Why do dogs start pacing long before the thunder starts?

     *Animals are keenly sensitive to environmental & barometric changes.

Are there certain breeds/pets that are more prone to anxiety

    *Yes in both dogs and cats:

          -Terriers, Retrievers, Sporting, (Weimaraner, Viszla, etc) & working dogs (Border Collie, etc) are the most prone in dogs.

         – Cats that are relatively “wild” like Bengal, Occicat & Savannah don’t do well with stress of domestic confinement.

How can I relieve this stress or anxiety?

    * Exercise, distracting sounds, massage or medication.

         -Medication should be used as part of the treatment for anxiety and should never be the sole therapeutic option

What are some non-medication alternatives?

    * Behavioral stimulation, including: exercise, environmental enrichment, acupuncture, acupressure, Chinese medicine food, therapeutic herbs, massages. etc.

What is considered environmental enrichment?

    *Interactive training, distracting toys…

How do pets develop these loud noise anxieties?  Is it inherent fear or developed early in life?

    *It is instinctual but can develop with repeated exposure.

If one dog is afraid of thunder and the other one is not, should you separate them during a storm?

    *It depends on how severe the anxiety is.  Especially if removing the companion dog makes it worse I wouldn’t.

Don’t those wraps help dogs with Thunder?

*Thundershirts can help pets with any type of anxiety.

Is is safe to leave Thundershirts on for long periods of time?

    *Yes, many clients leave them on all day while they are at work.

This is not all of the questions from the night but a basic recap. If you would like to learn more about Thundershirts you can click on this link: Learn more about Thundershirts 


I’m a moderate the Community Question/Answer board for pet360.  Feel free to drop in and submit your pet health or behavior question.

To receive my next article via email, sign up here.

Please feel free to communicate with me through Twitter (@PatrickMahaney) and follow my adventures in veterinary medicine by liking Patrick Mahaney: Veterinarian Acupuncture Pain Management for Your Pets on Facebook.

Copyright of this article (2012) is owned by Dr Patrick Mahaney, Veterinarian and Certified Veterinary Acupuncturist. Republishing any portion of this article must first be authorized by Dr Patrick Mahaney. Requests for republishing must be approved by Dr Patrick Mahaney and received in written format.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Cindy Ludwig, M.A., KPA-CTP July 13, 2012 at 11:44 PM

Dr. Mahaney,
I am wondering if you have ever heard of the Anxiety Wrap? It is the original and only patented pressure wrap invented by Certified Professional Dog Trainer and T-Touch Practitioner, Susan Sharpe in 2001. Sharpe experimented with over 90 different prototypes before coming up with her patented design. The Anxiety Wrap is the only pressure wrap that achieves its calming effect using both maintained pressure and acupressure. It is also the only pressure wrap that has been evaluated in a clinical research study to date, although the Thundershirt is now also under study at the same institution that evaluated the Anxiety Wrap. Dr. Nicholas Dodman led the study on the Anxiety Wrap and found that the Anxiety Wrap was effective in 89% of the dogs in the study, concluding that the Anxiety Wrap is a “safe and effective treatment for thunderstorm phobia.” In my own practice as a professional dog trainer I have found the Anxiety Wrap to be remarkably and consistently effective for a wide range of anxiety-related disorders from thunderstorm phobia to severe separation anxiety. The Anxiety Wrap has many design advantages as well as added value such as free professional product support from Certified Professional Dog Trainers. You can read more about how the products compare in this article: http://anxietywrapsays.blogspot.com/2012/02/comparison-of-anxiety-wrap-thundershirt.html

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