Is Your Dog Afraid of Thunderstorms?
Did you know roughly one in three dogs suffers from storm anxiety? These dogs become fearful when a storm approaches and remain agitated until well after the storm has passed.
Some of these dogs merely run and hide, whereas others become so afraid they destroy objects, furniture, doors, and windows, or injure themselves in their panic. There seems to be a genetic component to the condition, since certain breeds are more often affected than others.
Dogs seem to react to all the different elements of a storm:
- the noise of the wind
- the flash of the lightning
- the drop in barometric pressure
- increased ionization
Different dogs seem to react more or less to different parts of the storm. Some may be terrified by the thunder claps, whereas others may react to the barometric pressure change.
Having a dog with storm anxiety can be extremely difficult, as pets grow terrified and out of control. Fortunately, you can help your pet calmly through a storm in several ways. To begin, never punish your dog for being afraid, and stay continually supportive and caring.
Various methods of behavioral modification have been used to treat storm anxiety.
During the Storm
- Make it Fun. The most important is to help your dog make positive associations with stormy weather.Make stormy days and nights occasions for play. Spend time interacting with your dog doing activities they enjoy.Provide treats and toys to play with.
- Create a Safe Spot. One of the most effective ways of treating storm anxiety is to teach your dog shelter and relaxation. Prepare a special nook, such as a closet, a windowless bathroom, or a crate, where your dog can go to feel safe. Close all the blinds and play soothing music to help minimize the effects of the storm. Play games with your dog, or simply stay close by to help them relax.
- Try Pheromones. Some people use collars or room diffusers containing dog appeasement pheromones, synthetic replicas of the scents produced by a nursing female, said to have a calming influence on dogs of all ages.
- The Swaddling Method. Others swaddle their dogs or otherwise apply pressure to their bodies. No one knows just how this works, but many dogs are noticeably helped by this approach.
- No Petting or Holding. Make sure not to pet or hold your dog if they're anxious, because this reinforces the behavior and can exacerbate it.
Before the Next Storm
- Try Audio Recordings. Some people also use audio recordings of thunder storms to help their pets get over their fears. They play the sounds at gradually increased volume, rewarding non-anxious behavior. While this approach may work for some dogs, many dogs fear more than just the thunder, and may not noticeably benefit from this treatment.
- Consider Electro-medicine. Electro-medicine is a new treatment designed to treat dog anxiety. It has shown considerable success in alleviating storm anxiety. Electro-medicine involves giving your dog micro-electric treatments. This means exposing the dog to extremely low-level currents. Theory holds this works because the exposure to the electric current results in chemical changes in the brain.
- Pharmaceuticals. In some cases, medication may be recommended to help relieve your dog's anxiety. Commonly, one drug is given throughout the storm season, with a more powerful sedative given a few hours before the arrival of a storm.
- Herbal Medicines. Holistic veterinarians will sometimes prescribe herbal remedies. If your dog is taking any prescription medication, do not use such remedies without first consulting a veterinarian, since they can sometimes interact with prescription medications or have unknown side effects. Chillout Chews are a great, safe option with a blend of B vitamins and a mother's milk calming complex in a easy to administer chicken flavored treat.
- Homeopathics. Because of their safety, homeopathic treatments are a great option for very young puppies, very old dogs and for dogs with health conditions or taking prescription medicines. Vetionx offers a great homeopathic anxiety medicine, Anxietrex which can be be added undetected to your dogs food, treats or water.