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If your pet is sick or you have a health concern, please contact Ammon Veterinary Hospital immediately for assistance at 208-552-9825.
Fears and Phobias
If your pet is fearful or phobic the first issue that needs to be addressed is you and your pet’s safety. If a pet is left at home and has a known fear or phobia (i.e. thunderstorm) the environment needs to be safe so that your pet does not injure herself during the fear response. Second, if you are at home during an episode your response to your pet may be counterproductive and only worsen or encourage the fearful or anxious response. Therefore, training and behavior modification techniques should be implemented to help calm and settle your pet. In some cases drug therapy may be instituted to help prevent injury and destruction.
The two most common type of behavior modification techniques are desensitization and counter-conditioning. The theory behind desensitization is using sound (fireworks on a CD) from whatever stimulus produces a fearful response at low levels. If your pet is able to tolerate the stimulus at low levels and be calm then the intensity of the stimulus is gradually increased. This type of training should be done over a period of time. Counter-conditioning works like this. During each desensitization session your pet should be praised and good behavior should be rewarded. By rewarding your pet during each training session she will develop a positive association with the stimulus with the ultimate goal of your pet looking forward to these training sessions with the stimulus. As with all training, patience is the key and don’t hesitate to seek professional advice.
The last part of addressing fears and phobias includes behavior modifying drugs. Medications can be helpful during the training process especially if there is a chance of exposure to a fearful stimulus during training. In addition, medications to relieve anxiety can be used on an as needed basis. Consult your veterinarian prior to giving any medications.