ASR- Lesson 1- Anxiety and Stress

Not all animals enjoy coming to the grooming salon.  In many cases, animals become very distressed when they come to get groomed.  This stress can potentially develop into a life threatening situation if the animal collapses, goes into shock or even stops breathing.  One of the most important aspects of managing stress is recognizing the signs.  Some common signs that an animal is in distress are:

  • Pacing/shaking
  • Whining/vocalizing
  • Drooling
  • Changes in eye appearance
  • Excessive shedding
  • Panting
  • Avoidance behaviors
  • Hiding or escaping

In severe cases animals will have bright red gums, may have an elevated body temperature, and difficulty breathing.  If you see an animal in distress at your salon you should remove them from the cage and take their vital signs (discussed in this Module).  If the animal appears to be overheating, put them in a cooler area of the salon.  Keep distressed animals away from other animals and areas with a lot of activity, such as a lobby area.  Do not leave a distressed animal unattended.  If the animal’s condition does not improve within 15 minutes or seems to get worse the owner should be contacted and it is recommended that a veterinarian is consulted.  Animals that go into respiratory or cardiac arrest from stress induced anxiety may not recover.  It is important to recognize the signs and act fast to save the animal’s life.

Anxiety with Fireworks and Loud Noises

 Pets are more sensitive than we are to loud noises, flashing lights, and strong smells. This can be caused by events like thunderstorms and fireworks.

 On the Fourth of July, and other days people are likely to set off fireworks, or during thunderstorms, it’s best to leave your pets safely indoors, preferably with a radio or TV turned on or a fan to soften jarring noises. Even pets who usually spend a lot of time outdoors should be brought inside. Pets will feel more secure if they have a certain area that they know is safe for them and they can relax in. For some dogs this might be their crate, for others it might be a corner that they go to often to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

Make sure your pets have some sort of identification in case they escape the yard. Microchipping is the safest and most reliable way to identify a pet. Collars with ID tags also help in case they do get out and become lost. This can save a lot of time in getting them back to you quickly if someone finds them.

Be careful of what your pets eat. They can get foreign objects lodged in their stomach/intestines such as corn cobs, chicken bones, rawhides, rope toys, pieces of bones, and string and hair elastics in cats too.

Protect your pets from heat stroke. If dogs are running around in the yard having fun, make sure it is not too hot out. If it’s hot, try to avoid midday play from 10a-3p when it is the hottest, or simply wait until the sun goes down. Take breaks often, even if it is not hot, by putting them inside and giving them plenty of access to water. If you have a Bulldog, Pug, Puggle, Pekingese, French Bulldog, Boston Terrier, or any other “squish-faced” dog, they should primarily be in the AC.

There are a variety of medications, supplements and calming vests that can help reduce your dog’s stress and anxiety from fireworks, and your veterinarian (or a board-certified veterinary behaviorist) is the best person to help you determine which one, or ones, are best for your pets. Every pet, and every situation, is different therefore a licensed veterinary professional is the best to consult. 

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