Pets

Does your dog suffer from storm stress?

Many dogs exhibit fear of storms, and it can range from mild discomfort to outright panic. Here’s a closer look at the reasons behind this fear and what you can do to help.

May 4, 2024

Once a dog becomes affected dogs by storms, they can start reacting to earlier signs that a storm is on its way, such as a change in barometric pressure. Mildly affected dogs may tremble, hide or pace, whereas those more severely affected may bark or try to escape - and this is when they can injure themselves in the panic.

Why are dogs afraid of storms?

Loud noises

Dogs have incredibly sensitive hearing, (far superior to humans!). The booming sound of thunder can be startling and sometimes painful to their ears. It’s no surprise that these loud noises can cause anxiety.

Changes in barometric pressure

They can sense changes in pressure that accompany storms. This can be confusing or frightening to them, as it’s a change they can feel but cannot see or understand.

Electrical charges

The buildup of static electricity during a storm might also add to your best friend’s discomfort. Some theories suggest that the static can cause tingling sensations in their fur, particularly those with long hair.

Memories

If your dog has had a bad experience with storms in the past, like being outside during a severe one, they might associate bad weather with negative memories.

Here are 6 simple things you can do to try and minimise their stress and anxiety:

  1. Provide a safe space where your dog can go during a storm. This could be a quiet corner of the house, a crate where they feel secure, or any area that is a bit inuslated from the sound of thunder. You can add blankets or their favourite toys to make the space feel safe and comforting.

  2. Help mask the sound of thunder with other familiar noises. This could be the sound of a television, radio, or a white noise app. The idea is to distract them from the frightening noises outside.

  3. Don't leave your dog outside. Stay at home with them and keep them indoors in a safe, secure and comfortable environment such as a quiet room with the curtains or blinds closed. If a storm has been forecast and you can't be at home, try to arrange for someone else to be with them.

  4. Provide distractions. Try to create positive associations with the sound of thunder such as indoor fetch or some of their favourite treats.

  5. Don't worry about 'rewarding' their fear during a storm. Give your dog the comfort and attention they need to calm their anxiety.

  6. If you know a storm is coming, make sure your dog is exercised and well fed before it starts. Make sure they are wearing their registration tag and that their microchip (if they have one) details are up to date - just in case they do manage to escape from your house.

If your dog’s storm anxiety is severe, it’s a good idea to speak with a veterinarian. They can offer further advice and prescribe medications if necessary to help manage the anxiety.

Did you know that cats can also suffer from storm stress? Here are some tips to help.

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