If your dog has a thunder phobia, storms in the forecast are your worst nightmare.
During these storms, your dog may show signs of anxiety, like shaking, whining, drooling, pacing, or hiding in a confined space. Some dogs even bark, howl, or become destructive.
Even though thunder phobias are common within dogs, there are a lot of misconceptions about the causes and best ways to handle this fear. There’s more to this phobia than loud noises.
Yes, thunderstorms are big, dark storms with scary noises and the occasional flash of lighting – enough to make any creature jump!
More than likely, your dog’s phobia of thunderstorms is related to three possibilities: canine noise aversion, separation anxiety, and static electricity.
During a thunderstorm, there is a change in barometric pressure, an increase in static electricity, wind, lightning, and low-frequency rumbles, which can be stressful to an animal.
When animals are stressed, it’s easy to spot their different behaviors but not as easy to calm their nerves. So, what can you do for your pitiful pup when he or she is worried, and a storm is near?
While it’s not always possible, being at home with your dog dramatically reduces the separation anxiety they may experience. Because you are a comfort to your pet, your presence during stressful times will be comforting to them.
Even if your pet isn’t usually anxious, a thunderstorm may trigger stressful behaviors.
Many articles will tell you to ignore the anxious behavior. On the contrary, we recommend providing distractions if your pup will engage. Punishing or ignoring anxious behaviors will only further the anxiety in your dog.
Petting or cuddling sessions are a great way to soothe your dog during storms. Consider an indoor game of fetch if they are up for it, tug-o-war, or a high-quality chew toy or bone.
Where does your dog hide during thunderstorms? If it’s your closet, underneath a bed, or similar, consider creating a safe space in those areas when a storm is rolling in.
Placing a blanket over their dog bed will create a familiar and calming environment for them to hang out until the storm passes.
If all of these options fail or you want to do more for your pet, consider purchasing an anxiety jacket. These jackets act like a swaddle and make your dog feel safe and secure.
An anti-static jacket also prevents your dog from getting “shocked” by static electricity, which is increased during a storm.
Other ideas include diffusing lavender and other soothing scents.
If your dog still exhibits uncontrollable anxiety and you are concerned for their health, anti-anxiety medication may be necessary. Consult our veterinarians for other ideas for anxiety-reducing activities for your pet during a storm.
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