Calming coats for distressed dogs

NICOLE MATHEWSON
Last updated 08:11 05/11/2012
Becky Hadfield, Jo Harris
STACY SQUIRES/Fairfax NZ
HUGS: Poppy the dalmatian and Basil the maltese terrier model their calm coats while out walking with their owners Becky Hadfield, left, and Jo Harris.

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Christchurch Earthquake 2011

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Two Christchurch women have developed a coat to help calm Canterbury's distressed dogs.

Veterinary nurse Becky Hadfield's 12-year-old dalmatian, Poppy, developed severe anxiety after the earthquakes.

"[She] would freeze to the spot, trembling."

Hadfield thought Poppy might just be cold and made her a coat to wear at night.

The coat helped, but did not solve the problem.

"She didn't take too well to the earthquakes, so I found the only way I could sort of soothe her was to be on the floor with her with my arms around her in a tight hug."

Poppy would slowly become relaxed enough to go to sleep, but Hadfield needed a long-term solution.

"Compression and that sort of hug feeling is really good at soothing anxiety," she said.

"We found it works for a lot of dogs."

Hadfield and friend Dr Jo Harris researched possible solutions and turned the "hug" idea into the Canine Calm Coat after realising there were many dogs that could benefit from it.

"[Usually] the option to deal with this sort of issue is heavy drugs that take the dog's personality away. A lot of owners don't want to go down that way."

Hadfield said the coat, which came in five sizes, could be used in any situation where a dog was stressed or anxious, including kennel stays, veterinary clinic visits, car travel, moving house or earthquakes.

The coat was not a substitute for veterinary care, but could work alongside other forms of treatment, she said.

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