For many dogs, storms can be a frightening experience. The thunderstorms over the past few days may be distressing for your pet. You may have seen some of the signs including your usually calm dog running for a place to hide when the sky starts to rumble.

Whilst we know that it’s common for dogs to suffer from storm anxiety or noise phobia, the reason some dogs fear storms and loud noises is not entirely known. It may be the noise, the wind, pressure changes, gusts of rain, thunder, lightning bolts and trees crashing down amongst other reasons. What we do know is that a stormy afternoon can be an extremely stressful experience for both you and your canine companion and it’s important to be aware of this and keep your pet safe during these events.

A frightened dog may display a range of out of character behaviours including:

  • Hiding under furniture
  • Drooling
  • Pacing
  • Barking
  • Destructive chewing
  • Attempts to escape from the backyard or home

A storm is not only lightning and thunder; it’s a darkening sky, humid air, rain, wind and other environmental changes that your dog may be sensitive to. These can all be symptoms and behaviours of a pet that is afraid of a storm. Find out more about how to spot the signs of anxiety in dogs.

How can I keep my dog safe and calm during thunderstorms?

There are many safety measures that you can take to keep your pet safe and relaxed during the lead up to and during thunderstorms.

Talk to your local Greencross Vets team

Your local Greencross Vets team can recommend a treatment based on your pet’s individual needs and the severity of your pet’s anxiety.

Book a vet

Provide your pet with a safe and familiar space

A small space like a bathroom or similar small-sized room can make your pet feel secure. Some dogs like to hide in a cupboard or cardboard box and it’s ok to let them.

Use Adaptil

Adaptil is a synthetic copy of the natural appeasing pheromone that a puppy’s mother releases during nursing. It can be very effective in calming down an anxious dog and is available as a diffuser, spray or collar.

Put on a Thundershirt

Thundershirts are anxiety vests that provide a similar feeling to what babies get when they’re swaddled. It’s best to put on your dog’s Thundershirt before the storm hits to keep them happy and relaxed.

Stay calm and be patient

You can help your dog with the anxiety caused from wild weather and loud noise by maintaining a calm and reassuring manner, and not reacting to the sounds of the storm.

Desensitise your dog to thunderstorms

Thunderstorm and desensitisaton CDs are available and can be played around the house to expose your dog to the common storm noises which in turn will begin the process of desensitisation.

All of these techniques should be used in conjunction with training and positive reinforcement. In some cases specific medication can be used in conjunction with the above behavior modification techniques.

If you are concerned that your dog suffers from storm or noise phobia contact your local Greencross Vet to discuss the best method that will assist in modifying your dog’s behaviour during storms and loud noises.

Written by: Dr. Nick Taylor, Greencross Vets