Using Short Acting Medication for Storm Phobias

When trying to resolve behavioural issues, it is important to use a multifactorial approach.  This includes, considering specialist referral, providing a safe place for your pet, avoid unintentionally reinforcing the behaviour, learn what behaviour of yours calms your pet and try to cut down the fearful stimulus with aids. Your Veterinarian can prescribe medication to assist your pet. 

Calmative Medication is designed to work in 3 ways: prevent anxiety, resolve panic attacks and block memory formation (this is why repeated use can lead to a long term improvement for storm phobias). The dose varies according to each dog’s individual needs and metabolism. You may need to do some trial dosing before the right dose is found for repeated use. 

Trial dose on a non-storm day to check for side effects

Often your vet will prescribe the lowest dose to try first. The goal is to prevent or relieve panic not sedation. Give the lowest prescribed dose when you are home on a non-storm day and observe your dog’s behaviour to check for any side effects. Ideally they should seem themselves and perhaps sleep more deeply. If they show signs of sedation such as wobbliness, drooling or unexpected excitement then contact your vet for advice. 

Testing for the right dose on a storm day

In an ideal situation calmative medication is best given 1­2 hours before the first signs of a storm. Try the lowest dose first. Observe your dog’s behaviour. If you are seeing signs of distress or anxiety after 2 hours give another full or half dose. If this dose is not effective, call your vet for further advice. If the dose is effective, remember this dose for future use. Remember the goal is for a long term improvement without heavy sedation. ​Do not exceed the maximum dose. Observe how long the effect lasts for. Hopefully this will be as long as 12 hours but it may be as short as 4 hours. Your vet will advise you on the best dose frequency. 

When to give

Best practice is to give before the first signs of a storm​. This may mean using a weather app to predict a storm’s onset and giving the medication 1­2 hours prior OR at least prior to leaving the house ​if there is a 50% chance that a storm is expected that day and you will be out. Basically ensure that the medication is in your dog’s system before the storm hits if possible. If you haven’t been able to predict that a storm is coming it is better to use calmative medication during or even after a storm than not at all.  ​If necessary calmative medication may be given every 12 hours or more frequently on your vet’s advice. Use for more than a couple of days may require weaning off so contact your vet for advice on this. 

Let us know if you have any other questions or concerns.

west Highland white Terrier