Nov 29

Coping with Storm Anxiety in Dogs

Storm anxiety can affect many dogs, and predicting which ones will be affected can be challenging. During storms, dogs may exhibit various signs of anxiety, including vocalising, shaking, hiding, attempting to escape, or engaging in destructive behaviours.

Understanding Your Dog’s Needs During Storms

  1. Secure Your Pet Before the Storm: Dogs with storm anxiety often sense the approaching storm before it arrives. Safely secure your pet indoors before the storm hits to prevent them from injuring themselves or attempting to escape.
  2. Provide a Safe Space: Create a designated “safe space” in your home where your dog can seek comfort and relaxation. Ensure they have access to this area during storms, as familiarity can help them calm down.
  3. Reduce Light and Noise Exposure: Block windows and use blinds or covers to minimise flashes of light. Background noise from the TV or household appliances can also help mask storm-related sounds. Consider using eye covers like Doggles if windows cannot be covered.
  4. Try Calming Garments: Products like thunder shirts can provide gentle, constant pressure, similar to swaddling an infant, which has been shown to have a calming effect on anxious dogs.
  5. Create Positive Associations: Offer treats or engage in play during storms to distract your dog and help them form positive associations with the event.
  6. Desensitisation: Use CDs with thunderstorm sounds to gradually introduce dogs to these noises or desensitise them from their phobia over time. Note that desensitisation may not be effective if light flashes trigger anxiety.
  7. Consider Calming Aids: Artificial pheromones, available in collars, sprays, or room diffusers, can replicate calming dog pheromones and aid in stress reduction.

Tailoring Solutions to Your Pet

Every dog is unique, so it’s essential to find the right combination of strategies that work for your pet. Some may require prescription medication in addition to home management techniques. Consult with a veterinarian for personalised advice and guidance on managing your dog’s storm anxiety effectively.

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About The Author

Claire is a QLD graduate with 19 years experience as a neighbourhood Veterinarian in Australia and the UK. Animal lover and the founder of VetChat, born from a passion to help pet carers everywhere access trusted advice earlier, for healthier, happier pets. Grateful to be carer to her beautiful Red-dog.