It is more common than you think, and many people don't think there's much you can do about it. However, storm phobia in dogs can be alleviated or at least reduced by trying several different tactics and treatments. September is disaster preparedness month, so let's dive right into how to help Fido conquer his fears.
First of all, your dog can sense a storm LONG before you can, sometimes even hours before it happens. The single most important thing for us humans to remember is that we must take steps to control the anxiety BEFORE our canine companion becomes agitated by the impeding weather. Once they start to get worked up, it becomes much more difficult to help them relax.
A few changes can be made to your dog's environment to help them feel more comfortable.
1) Small spaces - dog's have been tamed for years but their instincts remain intact. In the wild, they hole up in small dens for protection and sleep. Try confining them to a smaller room or even allow them to bed down in the bathtub or their kennel if they like it in there.
2) Noise distraction - sometimes it is beneficial to play the radio, music, or have a tv on as white noise to help drown out the sound of thunder, wind, and rain.
3) Your Presence - your dog takes a lot of comfort when you are around to keep them safe, but we can't always be home. If the weather is predicting storms, try leaving one of your shirts near your dog's safe place or bed so they have your smell to help comfort them.
There is also a new product that you may have heard of in recent years called the thunder shirt. Many of our clients have used it successfully, not only for storm phobia but also other anxiety related behaviors as well. You can find these at most pet stores and online. The idea behind the shirt is that is fits your dog snuggly, thus giving them comfort (much like a tight, small space).
Lastly, if you have tried all of these tactics above but your dog still has major fear when it comes to bad weather, please call your veterinarian to discuss your options. There are medical treatments that can help, but that is a last resort after other methods are exhausted. Ultimately, your pet's safety is the utmost importance, and most dog's can be helped with medication when nothing else does.
If you have a dog you think may have storm anxiety, give us a call (217-529-4499) and we'll talk to you about some things to try at home. Our mission is to provide high quality, compassionate veterinary care with a personal touch. We strive to maintain a friendly and comfortable environment for pets and owners and are committed to building strong, respectful, and honest relationships with our clients. Through teamwork, we are dedicated to ensuring the best care possible and treating pets as if they were our own.