Stress costs pet owners billions each year

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Plenty of pets have anxiety issues, and many pet parents just don’t know how to handle them.

The fact that pets suffer anxiety issues isn’t news, but the fact that pet owners spend more than $1 billion a year addressing fear and anxiety issues in their dogs should perk up your ears.

Forty-one percent of dog owners participating in a survey by GMI Inc. in Washington said they had at least one dog with a current or former anxiety issue. The online survey involved 1,201 households that owned a total of 1,960 dogs.

Twenty-nine percent of dogs in the survey population suffered from some form of anxiety or fear. The most common triggers were noises such as thunderstorms and fireworks (17 percent) and separation anxiety (13 percent).

Less than half of survey respondents (46 percent) said they take action to address anxiety issues in their dogs. Of those, 71 percent don’t feel it is necessary, 29 percent don’t think there is a viable solution and 13 percent think a solution would be too expensive.

Respondents who address their dog’s anxiety rely on medications, training and avoiding stressful circumstances.

“We’ve worked with tens of thousands of dogs over the past two years, so we knew anxiety problems in dogs are very common, but we were incredibly surprised by the results of this data,” said Phil Blizzard, founder of Thunder shirt (Durham, N.C.) which commissioned the survey.

“As our survey shows, 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,” Blizzard said. “It is our hope that by highlighting the prevalence of these issues, we’re able to alleviate anxiety for more dogs and their owners in the future.”

By extrapolating its survey results to data from 2009 to 2010 APPA National Pet Owners Survey by the American Pet Products Association (Greenwich, Conn.), Thunder shirt estimates that nearly 23 million dogs currently suffer or have suffered some sort of anxiety issues have impacted 18.6 million U.S. households.

Evidence suggests that dog owners spend on the average, more than $1 billion per year addressing anxiety and fear problems. That includes more than $240 million attributable to property damage caused by anxious animals.

There are many treatments for anxiety issues in dogs. You can check with your veterinarian or for a more holistic approach, your local pet store.


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