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Survey: Fireworks, Storms Spark Anxiety in Dogs

Posted: June 22, 2011, 4:30 p.m., EDT

Summer is officially here and with it comes backyard barbecues, trips to the beach and Fourth of July firework shows. But it can also bring anxiety for the nation’s dogs.

Summer storms and celebratory fireworks are two main triggers of anxiety in dogs, according to a survey released today by Thundershirt, a Durham, N.C.-based manufacturer of anxiety-reducing dog products.

The first-ever “Thundershirt Dog Anxiety Survey” comprises two separate surveys. One survey polled 1,201 U.S. dog owners on dog anxiety in general, and another polled 1,137 Thundershirt customers on anxiety and possible solutions.

“We’ve worked with tens of thousands of dogs over the past two years, so we knew that anxiety problems in dogs are very common...but we were incredibly surprised by the results of this data,” said Phil Blizzard, founder of Thundershirt. “As our surveys show, millions of dogs are suffering from, and not being adequately treated for, fear of thunder, separation and travel anxiety and a whole host of other anxiety and fear issues.”

The Thundershirt jacket was very effective in helping to reduce anxiety in dogs, according to a survey released by the manufacturer today.
The Thundershirt jacket was very effective in helping to reduce anxiety in dogs, according to a survey released by the manufacturer today.
The surveys found that two of the most prominent forms of anxiety among dogs were noise and separation from their owners. Loud noises, such as thunder storms (86 percent) and fireworks (74 percent), were the most often cited form of noise anxiety.

Forty-one percent of the 1,201 dog owners polled said they had at least one dog that currently has or had an anxiety issue. Of the 1,960 dogs owned by those polled, almost 30 had some form of anxiety or fear issue, according to the survey.

By applying its findings to 2010 U.S. population estimates, Thundershirt calculated that nearly 23 million dogs suffer or have suffered from some sort of anxiety. The company also calculated that dog anxiety issues have impacted 18.6 million U.S. households.

Still, 71 percent of the dog owners polled did not feel that it was necessary to address the issue, 29 percent did not feel like there was a viable solution and 13 percent felt solutions were too expensive.

For those that did address their dog’s anxiety, survey results indicated that more traditional solutions, such as medication, training and avoiding certain circumstances, were the most popular.

Dog owners spend, on average, more than $1 billion annually addressing anxiety and fear problems, with more than $240 million going to property damage, Thundershirt reported.

The Thundershirt jacket, which is designed to calm anxious dogs, was found to be the most effective solution for anxiety among the Thundershirt customers polled. It was identified as having the highest success rate out of all solutions tried for various anxiety types, with nearly 82 percent of the customers polled reporting an improvement in symptoms. Other notable solutions were environmental management (77 percent) and drugs (76 percent).

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