Thunderstorm Phobia

Thunderstorms can trigger many behaviors in some dogs, including shaking, drooling, pacing, hiding and extreme anxiety. People often ask what they can do to help their pet deal with their thunderstorm phobias. This article will review suspected causes of thunderstorm phobia and non-medication ways to decrease your pet’s anxiety.
There are several reasons’ your pet may be anxious about thunderstorms. The noise of the thunder itself may be stress inducing especially in pets that are sound-sensitive. In addition, dog’s have the ability to sense the static electricity generated by the storm and this can be uncomfortable for the dog. After one or two bad experiences with storms your pet may become anxious when they sense a drop in the barometric pressure or smell the coming rain. This causes your pet to become anxious before the storm begins and allows anxiety to build. Finally, the worse the pet’s behavior becomes the more the owner will become stressed about the storms, which in turn causes the pet’s anxiety to increase.
·         Make the Storm a Positive Event: Many pets pick up anxious vibes the owner may have when a storm is pending (this anxiety is often related to concern over the pet’s reaction to the storm). When a storm is pending try to emit a positive attitude and make the time during the storm a fun event for your pet. This can be achieved by getting your Dog’s favorite toys or treats and begin to play. Save the very best toy or treat for when the storm has gained intensity. When the thunder occurs say something like “Woohoo” or “Alright” in an enthusiastic tone as you give your pet a treat. Overtime, you can change your pet’s attitude towards thunderstorms making them a fun event rather than a stressful event.
·         Thundershirts/Pressure Wraps: Swaddling your dog or having your dog wear a Thundershirt has been proven to provide a sense of comfort in many dogs. It is believed that the sensation of deep pressure around the torso can modulate the central nervous system thus producing a calming effect. This technique can also be beneficial in during other stress inducing events.
·         Anti-static capes and Dryer Sheets: The goal is to reduce the static build-up in your pet’s fur which may be one of the reasons for your pet’s anxiety. If you are planning to use dryer sheets wipe them over your pet body lightly (be careful to prevent your pet from eating the dryer sheet).
·         TT-Touch: This is a technique of massage and relaxing pressure points which can be used to decrease stress in your pet. This technique can be learned by the owner through classes and online education
·         Dog Appeasing Pheromone (DAP): This is a synthetic version of a pheromone that is produced in a lactating bitch and it has a calming effect on dogs. This pheromone is safe and cannot be detected by the owners. The DAP collar will work best if the collar is kept on at all times (don’t worry it will not cause sedation in your pet). The collar must be replaced every month.
These suggestions for helping your pet with thunderstorm phobias are easy to implement and do not have harmful side effects. You can try one of these techniques at a time or use more than one technique at a time. Remember this problem will not go away immediately so try to figure out what works best for your pet and keep using those techniques. If you have questions about thunderstorm phobia please feel free to contact the doctors at Anchor Animal Hospital.