How to Keep Your Dog Calm During a Thunderstorm

Posted on July 31 2018

Guest Blogger: Cynthia Lopez of PETLIFETODAY.COM

It’s summertime, and in many areas of the country, that is thunderstorm weather. If you have a dog who gets anxious when the pup hears those rumbles in the distance and is downright panicked when the lightning strikes close to your home, you might be counting down the days until fall!   

Common anxiety symptoms in dogs include panting, excessive yawning, pacing, whining, barking, and raised hackles. Some dogs even become aggressive and might growl or snap when they are feeling scared.

The good news is that there are ways to keep your dog calm during a thunderstorm. Read on to help your furry best friend settle down when the weather is loud and scary.

Help Your Dog Feel More Secure

Dogs are den animals, and when they are running around the house panting and whining, all of the space and the lack of structure can make them feel even more scared. While you might think it’s mean to put your frightened dog in a crate or contain her in a small area, the truth is that it will help her feel secure.

Dexter behind his safe curtain and his Fusion Gate (Greek Key)

Either use a baby and dog gate or set up a crate in an area of the home where you often are. If you confine yourself and your dog into a section of the living room, she will feel safe and secure. If you use a crate, you don’t have to lock your dog in it (though you can if you won’t be home or if your dog is really reactive): Just put a blanket and one of your dog’s toys inside and the pup might naturally gravitate toward the space when the dog feels stressed.

Use Distraction to Your Advantage

Unless the thunderstorm is very loud and violent, it’s likely that you can distract your dog by simply putting on the radio or the television and turning up the volume a bit louder than you normally have it. Feel free to sing and dance along with the music to give your dog something else to focus on. 

A new toy or a safe bone is another way to encourage your furbaby to think about something other than the dog’s own fear and discomfort. You can stuff a Kong toy with peanut butter, canned dog food, or some other slightly goopy treat, freeze it, and let the dog chew on it. This is a great distraction. Be sure to put down a towel or a washable blanket first to keep the mess contained!

Try Products on the Market for Reducing Fear

There are several products on the market that can help reduce fear in dogs who suffer from anxiety over thunderstorms. One is called the Thundershirt. This is a snug-fitting “shirt” that will hug your dog and make her feel more secure.

Thundershirt photo by @oxleygoldendoodle

Another is using dog collars, specifically a calming dog collar. These collars look like regular dog collars but they contain pheromones that can calm your dog down. These pheromones are also available in other forms, such as plug-ins, sprays, and wipes. They are natural and can make your pet feel calm and safe even when the weather is raging outside.

Talk to Your Veterinarian

For dogs who have severe anxiety, there are medical treatments available. Your veterinarian might suggest that you give your dog a sedative when the weather forecast includes thunderstorms. Another option is a low-dose tranquilizing medication that you’ll give your best canine pal on a daily basis to keep the dog’s moods more even. This is a great choice if your dog also suffers from separation anxiety or other fears in addition to anxiety related to thunder and lightning.

Your dog doesn’t have to suffer from extreme anxiety brought about by summer storms. Try to make your dog feel secure, distract the pup, try natural remedies, and, if needed, talk to your veterinarian about pharmaceutical options. You can help your dog get through thunderstorm season without panicking, which will help you enjoy your summer as well!

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