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Pressure wraps are a holistic treatment used in dogs to alleviate symptoms due to anxiety or thunderstorm phobia. The goal of treatment is to distribute moderate to deep pressure throughout the body to alleviate stress. It is used commonly to treat thunderstorm phobia and is growing in popularity for treatment of other anxiety disorders. This treatment can be given by any owner before they know that the anxiety triggering event will happen (e.g. a thunderstorm or a trip away that triggers separation anxiety).
No preparatory steps need to be taken, however, if your pet has severe anxiety you can have them prescribed anxiolytic medication. Diagnosis of a condition that would lead to needing a pressure wrap can be straightforward based on symptoms. Often, dog owners buy pressure wraps without an official anxiety diagnosis from the veterinarian due to the signs and the ease of use of the pressure wrap. The wrap fits over your dog like a vest and straps are wrapped around and adhered with Velcro to achieve the correct pressure.
Pressure wraps are most effective when used as a preventative measure, but can alleviate ongoing anxiety. The effects last only as long as the wrap is applied. Therefore, the wrap would need to be left on for the duration of the thunderstorm or the trip away in order to mitigate anxious behavior.
Pressure wraps are a benign treatment/preventive measure to ensure your pet is alleviated of anxiety symptoms. There is no recovery needed for this treatment nor is there follow-up care required.
Pressure wraps in dogs are a relatively inexpensive intervention. Depending on your cost of living and dog size, pressure wraps will cost between $20 and $50, with the average cost being $35.
Pressure wraps to alleviate anxiety are best used when the stressor can be anticipated and the pressure wrap applied before symptoms of disease occur. Anxiety will continue to occur without the pressure wrap, so attentiveness to triggers and a willingness for repeated intervention is a must.
Prevention of anxiety, especially anxiety caused by thunder, is difficult. Counterconditioning can be attempted, in which one attempts to redirect their dog’s attention from the negative stimulus until they can be around it. Separation anxiety can be prevented if dogs are taught to understand early that when their owner leaves, they will come back. For some dogs who have lived in shelters, this is especially difficult to do.
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