We adopted a small terrier mix that no one claimed. She was found wandering around the devastation in Joplin, Mo., after a recent intense tornado. My husband and I went there to help relatives for a few days. We named her Joppy. Perhaps her owners were killed. At any rate, she took to us quickly. The only problems are that she hates to be left alone and really gets upset with stormy weather and thunder. How can we help her get over this?
M.A., Springfield, Mo Aug 29, 2011
Good for you and your husband for giving assistance in Joplin (a tragedy, indeed) and for adopting Joppy. She is most probably suffering separation anxiety and post-traumatic stress. Give her an open dog crate with a pillow or blanket to serve as a secure den. Put treats inside it when you leave the house so she associates being left with a reward. Leave on the TV so she can have the possible comfort of human voices. Don't make a big fuss over her when you return. Once she feels more secure, her separation anxiety should be resolved. The post-traumatic stress can be helped by closing the curtains during a storm and turning up the radio or CD player with loud but soothing music. Try the CD "Through a Dog's Ear," available online. Wrapping her in a light towel or T-shirt, secured with duct tape, should have a profound calming effect. Giving 1 milligram to 3 milligrams of melatonin about half an hour before a storm arrives has helped many dogs, along with a couple of drops of lavender oil on a bandanna wrapped around the dog's neck. If these measures do not help, ask your veterinarian for a prescription of alprazolam (Xanax), a short-acting psychotropic medication that can benefit dogs with post-traumatic stress, "thunderphobia" and fireworks fears.
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