Thunderstorm Phobia: How you can help calm the fear.

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Summer is fast approaching and so are thunder storms. Many pets have real fear and anxiety during thunderstorms. They can easily perceive different smells in the air, changes in air pressure, changes in your own body language and routine, and of course the loud thunder and bright lightning.

This is a very common and very real anxiety that can make life miserable for your dog or cat.


Ways to Help:
1. Supplements and pheromones.
• Zylkene is a non-prescription supplement that is derived from milk but is hypoallergenic and lactose free. This supplement causes deep relaxation and decreases anxious reactions to thunderstorms and other stressful situations. It is easy to give once daily in a capsule (or powder if opened). It is safe and has no side effects.
• Pheromones are scents/essences that are derived from dogs or cats and naturally cause relaxation and a feeling of well-being. These pheromones are released by the mother dog to her puppies to make them feel relaxed when she is away.
• Calm Food by Royal Canin Veterinary line of pet foods. This food has similar ingredients to Zylkene and has a natural calming, anti-anxiety effect.

2. Comforting sounds and activities.
• Some dogs only need to know you are there to comfort them. Take them outside during a storm and be re-assuring. Make it a positive experience and don’t show any anxiety yourself.
• Recordings of storms are available, such as Sound Scary. These can be used in a progressive, controlled manner with positive reinforcement to train your dog.
• Some dogs find comfort under a “security blanket” or with a snug shirt that swaddles them. Make sure that he or she doesn’t overheat.


3. Prescription anti-anxiety medications.
• Some dogs become very frantic and are at risk of doing serious harm to themselves and anything around them. These dogs need more than a calming voice. Many need to be seen by a veterinarian and prescribed anti-anxiety medication.
• Please contact us for more information.

Don’t take thunderstorm phobia lightly, even if the problem seems minor in your dog. This is a major problem that calls for intelligent handling at the first sign. Treat storms as a routine part of life, nothing to fear, and even perhaps occasion for some special times. Do these things before your dog ever shows signs of phobia, and perhaps you’ll never experience a serious case.


About a Dog and His Broken Leg: How it was Fixed with Orthopedic Surgery

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Chulo is a lovely brown dog of an undetermined breed who came to Canada from Mexico.

He’s a happy guy who likes to chase things!



But sometimes accidents happen, and a big one did. Chulo was hit by a car. He was very lucky to have his life spared… but he ended up with a broken left front leg. His owners brought him in to us at Steeples Veterinary Clinic.

This type of bone fracture, called an open, comminuted fracture of the radius and ulna, needed surgery.

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A cast or splint was not enough in this case. After carefully looking at the x-rays and taking measurements, the veterinarian made a surgical plan and chose his materials. The goal of fracture repair surgery is to put the bones back where they belong and to hold them there very rigidly until they heal. It usually takes 6-8 weeks for the body to knit the bones back together.

So off to surgery went Chulo.

We put him under general anesthetic and carefully prepared the leg for surgery. In the operating room, the surgeon made an incision in the skin of his left front leg over the fracture area.

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He replaced the ends of the fracture into normal position, kind of like a jigsaw puzzle. This part takes a lot of tension and manoeuvering to get it just right. The closer to perfect the bone ends are, the better.

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Then the doctor placed his pre-chosen stainless steel bone plate over the fracture. He drilled holes into the bone with a drill and bit. The holes went from one side of the bone right across and out the other side. He then inserted stainless steel bone screws into the holes and screwed them down snugly. As you can imagine, placing this rigid stainless steel plate tightly across the broken area keeps the fracture ends firmly in place.

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Here’s the x-ray of Chulo’s left front leg after surgery. Can you see how the steel plate is attached to the radius bone with screws?

The incision was closed with sutures and bandaged to keep it protected.

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Now what’s next for Chulo?

He has to take some pain medication and antibiotics for a few days. He has to have his bandage changed and his sutures taken out eventually.

Most importantly, Chulo needs to take it easy! He probably feels like he can run on that leg soon after surgery, but he needs to really go slow for 6 weeks so that the bone can heal.  If he does too much too soon and puts a lot of heavy weight on that leg, he could potentially break or bend the stainless steel.


You probably don’t think a dog would want to run after surgery, but they are surprisingly tough. And come on, chasing a squirrel or whatever else always takes precedence over any little bit of pain! This is where the owners have to really be tough and keep a dog restricted after fracture surgery. All the best wishes to Chulo for a speedy recovery!