Many years ago, my family found a sweet, emaciated dog wandering in a meadow in the Catskills behind our house. After a few days of calls to the local dogcatcher and vets, he joined our family and we named him Gus. Gus was a wonderful dog. Smart, devoted and incredibly handsome, he could also balance things on his nose. He was big and brawny, a lab-pit mix who looked almost leonine in profile.
Gus, however, was deathly afraid of thunderstorms and fireworks. On one particularly bad night, in the middle of a mountain storm, my brother Jake and I had to roll him in a sheet like a swaddled baby, and sleep on either side of him on the floor. In his later years, he even got doggie Xanax.
Gus is somewhere in doggie heaven now. But as anyone who follows my social media presence knows, I have just adopted a dog named Mara. She is calm and sociable, and seems unfazed by most things. But soon we shall spend our first National Day of Dog Terror together, aka the Fourth of July.
And so we decided that Mara should make her Marketplace Weekend debut, trying out some of the many dog-calming products available on the market: Sprays, pheromones and the always-popular Thundershirt.
Here’s Mara, side-eyeing me.
Mardi Larson, senior director of public relations at PetSmart, gave us the rundown of the wide array of anti-anxiety products available.
Thundershirt - $39.95 and up
Modeled by Mara, a Thundershirt "looks a bit like a dog harness," said PetSmart's Larson, "you put it on pretty tight on your dog and it creates like a hug or a swaddling effect, a bit like swaddling a baby." If you're more of a feline fan, Thundershirts are also available for cats.
Pheromones - $18.85 and up
Not just for attracting a mate, for cats and dogs pheromones "mimic what they experience in their litter with their mom," said Larson, "so they have a nice calming solution." And you can administer the product through pheromone infused toys, a diffuser, spray or a collar.
Anxiety chews - $5.99 and up
If your pet likes to eat his way through anxiety, there are treats to help. "Some chews and oral supplements have chamomile and tryptophan," said Larson, helping to calm your pet through the booming fireworks of Fourth of July.
Thanks to anxious pets, and their equally anxious "pet parents," PetSmart says its assortment of anti-anxiety products has expanded 45 percent in the past 3 years. And no surprise, Fourth of July is one of its busiest times of the year.