Seeing your normally happy dog terrified during a thunderstorm can feel disheartening, especially during the summer when storms are more frequent. Thunder is loud to the human ear and even more intense for dogs, whose hearing is significantly better than ours.
Dogs are often afraid of thunder, and the loudness probably isn’t the only thing that bothers your dog during a storm. Static electricity from the lightning can cause anxiety, while howling winds and heavy rain and hail contribute to feelings of fear.
Knowing how to calm a dog during a storm will help you ease their fear and anxiety. The veterinarians at East Valley Animal Hospital know how stressful storms can be for you and your dog. Here’s our best advice on how to keep your dog calm during the stormy season this summer.
Three Tips on How to Calm a Dog During a Storm
1: Provide a Safe Space
One of the best ways to calm a dog during a thunderstorm is to provide them with a place to hide away from all the noise and chaos. Your dog will naturally gravitate toward dark, enclosed spaces like bathrooms or closets. To make these places feel even more comfortable and safe, move your dog’s bed or kennel there (if they like their kennel), and offer some of their favorite treats and toys in that area.
Another aspect of making sure your dog has a safe space is making sure they feel secure in your house or apartment. Dogs who are scared may try to escape in an attempt to flee the storm. If you are out hiking or walking when a thunderstorm approaches, make sure your dog is secured on leash, and get them to a car or back inside the house as quickly as possible.
2: Provide a Distraction
Offering your dog a distraction during a storm can help to ease their anxiety. Puzzle-treat toys and favorite games help take their focus off the next boom of thunder, and make the overall experience less stressful. Soft background noise like a fan or soothing music can also help distract your dog by diminishing the sound of the thunder or storm itself. While this option may not work for all dogs, it can help tone down their anxiety to a manageable level.
3: Try a Snug Wrap
Hiding places and distractions aren’t always enough during intense storms, but there are other options. One popular solution for thunderstorm anxiety is a ThunderShirt, which is a snug wrap for your dog that applies gentle pressure around their chest and torso. Just like humans find comfort in a weighted blanket, this gentle pressure is generally very calming for dogs. ThunderShirts can also help ease fear associated with other loud noises like fireworks.
You can also opt for supplements that calm anxious dogs, such as CBD. Before giving your dog a supplement, however, check with your veterinarian to make sure it is truly safe and effective. In some cases your dog may need a prescription medication to calm their storm anxiety.
Keeping Your Dog Stress-Free
A stress-free dog is a happy dog! At East Valley Animal Hospital, we care about the wellbeing of your pet, their health, and their happiness. If you have concerns about how your dog is reacting to thunderstorms, or have other questions about their health, we would love to set up an appointment to see you both. You can call us at 480-568-2462 or contact us online.
Photo by Dominic QN on Unsplash