From a drop in barometric pressure to the sound of thunder and a strike of lightning, if your dog goes “into a tailspin” when a storm approaches, here are some helpful tips to help calm his or her fears. As an immediate response, think “dog safety” and provide a protected area for your pet. Close blinds or curtains to muffle the storm and to keep your dog from seeing outside. If you have a pet crate, covering it with a sheet to provide a sanctuary can soothe a pet that is prone to hiding. Keep your demeanor calm and don’t try to overreact as this could reinforce the notion that there is something to fear. It is perfectly fine to comfort your dog by playing pleasant music, by cuddling, casually petting and massaging, or offering distractions such as play time or treats. If you remain upbeat, these enjoyable activities can go a long way to relieving stress. If despite these efforts, your pet remains agitated, remember the behavior is being caused by fear, so please resist the urge to dismiss, scold or punish your pet for displays of anxiety.
There are also products on the market that mimic “swaddling” or reduce visual stimulation as well as holistic & prescribed medications designed to reduce storm anxiety. Before trying these methods, it is best to ask your veterinarian to examine your dog to see if any medical issues could be involved and to suggest ways to best help your dog cope with storms. Bottom line – dog safety should always be top of mind.
After storm season is over, you may want to consider playing recordings of thunder to get your dog used to the sound before the next round of bad weather rolls around. Start out at low levels that do not frighten your pet then take some time to engage in a pleasant activity. Over the next several weeks, gradually increase the volume if – and only if – your dog doesn’t show signs of anxiety. As dog lovers, we all know dog safety should always be the number one priority. If your pet responds negatively, it might be time to seek professional assistance from a pet behavior specialist.
Why are so many dogs, cats, and other animals afraid of thunderstorms? Veterinarians & Pet Behavior Experts don’t know all the “triggers” but most agree a mix of loud thunder, lightning, wind, barometric pressure, static electricity and low frequency rumbles humans can’t hear can combine to create “the perfect storm” which induces anxiety in many pets. It’s also important to note that pets with storm phobias can also be frightened by other disturbances caused by loud music, sirens, fireworks, and gunshots. With the holiday season right around the corner – please keep this in mind AND take the proper precautions to keep your dog safe. Avoid bringing anxious pets to holiday parades & New Year’s Eve Celebrations. If they could talk, they would certainly thank you for it.