While summer storms can be scary for people, they can be downright terrifying for many dogs with storm anxiety. A dog with canine storm anxiety can easily become stressed and agitated when faced with a loud storm, leaving dog owners feeling helpless.
As a pet parent, you try your best to comfort them during these storms, but sometimes nothing seems to make a difference in your pet’s anxious behavior. Moreover, as summer approaches, you know more thunderstorms will be in the forecast and you want to be prepared to help your precious pup feel safe and secure during these storms...
If that's you, then this article is for you.
If your pup experiences mild signs of this type of storm anxiety, fortunately, there are steps that you can take to lessen canine anxiety and help your pet calm down during thunderstorms.
Here are our top 8 proven ways to help your dog cope with thunderstorm anxiety this summer:
Create a Safe Space for Your Dog
Designate an area in your home that you can make comfortable and safe for your dog during thunderstorms. This could include soft bedding, pillows, or blankets to create a cozy spot where they feel secure and seek shelter.
You can bring some of their favorite toys and treats to the space too so they have something comforting to focus on while the storm passes.
What else can I do to create a safe environment?
If your pup seems particularly stressed during a storm, you can add extra features to their safe spot. Consider using a white noise machine to provide background noise, so they can't hear thunder rumbling or covering the area with thick blankets to help muffle loud noises and barometric pressure from the storm.
You can also use natural calming sprays and plug-in diffusers to help create an environment that’s more soothing for them when lightning strikes.
What are plug-in diffusers for dogs?
Plug-in diffusers are a type of device that helps to release natural calming scents into the air around your dog. These scents act as a natural way to reduce stress and storm anxiety in pets, helping them feel more relaxed during thunderstorms.
Try Calming Supplements
Natural supplements such as calming herbs, oils or probiotics can help to reduce your dog’s storm phobia during a storm season. Consider speaking with your vet about what the best options are for your pup.
What supplements work best to calm my dog?
One of the best supplements for calming anxious dogs is hemp, chamomile, lavender, and valerian root. Some owners also swear by giving their pets a small dose of melatonin during thunderstorms to help curb storm anxiety.
What ingredients should I look out for?
When choosing supplements, look for natural ingredients that are proven to be beneficial and safe. Avoid anything with artificial flavors or preservatives, as these can be dangerous for your pup and can make their anxiety worse.
As always, make sure to consult your vet before giving any supplements to your dog.
Why do these ingredients work?
The natural ingredients found in supplements like chamomile, lavender, and valerian root are known to be calming for humans and animals alike. These herbs work because they contain active compounds that help reduce stress and anxiety levels in both people and pets.
Melatonin also helps to create a sense of relaxation by promoting the production of calming hormones in the dog's body too.
This is due to the increase in the production of serotonin and GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) in the body, which helps reduce stress levels. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that’s responsible for regulating mood, while GABA helps control anxiety levels. Together, these two neurotransmitters help to create an environment that’s more conducive to relaxation and calm.
Keep Up With Your Pet's Regular Routine
During thunderstorms, try to keep your pup on their routine and familiar activities, as routine creates a sense of security in structure. If they are used to going for a walk every morning, try not to skip it because of the storm.
Additionally, make sure to provide plenty of extra cuddles during this time too. Showing your pup that you are there for them can help reduce their separation anxiety, and remind them that they are not alone.
Monitor Your Dog’s Anxiety Levels
Closely monitor your dog's behavior during thunderstorms and throughout the summer months. Note any changes in their behavior, and be aware of any patterns that may emerge.
How can I monitor my dog's anxiety levels?
One of the best ways to monitor your pup's storm anxiety symptoms and levels is by keeping a journal. Note any changes in behavior you observe during thunderstorms, and pay close attention to how your pup responds to certain situations.
For example, if you notice that your pup becomes particularly agitated when the storm starts or if they seem particularly uncomfortable lying down, make note of it. This can help you identify triggers that may be contributing to their anxiety.
Exercise and Playtime
You can help reduce your dog’s anxiety by engaging in physical activity with them before a serious storm hits. Running, playing fetch, or going for a long walk are great ways to tire out your pup and give them something to focus on other than the weather outside.
Why does this work?
Physical activity will help distract them from the storm, but more importantly, increase their endorphins. Endorphins are hormones that help to reduce stress levels and create a feeling of well-being, which can be especially beneficial for dogs with thunderstorm anxiety.
Desensitize Your Dog
If your pup is particularly afraid of storm noises or thunder, you can try to gradually desensitize them by playing recordings of thunderstorms at a low volume. Increase the sound level slowly until your dog gets used to it and doesn’t react to background noise with fear or anxiety anymore.
How else can I desensitize my dog to thunderstorms?
You can also try introducing them to other loud noises such as fireworks or car horns, and gradually increase the sound level until they become more comfortable with it. Desensitization is an effective behavior modification method for helping your pup cope with thunderstorms, but make sure to do it gradually so you don’t overwhelm them too quickly.
Move Away From Windows
If your pup is especially sensitive to the sound of thunder, keep them away from windows or any other openings that could let the noise in. Try closing curtains and doors to block out as much of the sound as possible.
Distract Your Dog
If all else fails, for dog thunderstorm anxiety you can always try distracting your pup with their favorite activities or toys. This will help take their mind off of the sound of thunder and focus on something more pleasant.
How else can I distract my dog during a thunderstorm?
Interactive toys such as puzzles or treat dispensers can be great for distracting your pup and giving them something fun to do while the storm passes. If you don’t have any interactive toys available, try playing a game of fetch or get your pup moving with some basic commands.
Consult a Veterinarian
If your dog’s anxiety persists during storm season or gets worse, it’s best to consult a veterinarian for further advice. They can offer help with medications or behavioral therapies that will make them cope better during storms.
Why do dogs get scared of thunder?
Dogs are particularly sensitive to loud noises, which is why they may exhibit signs of a fear response or anxiety during stormy weather. The sound of thunder can cause the release of stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol, which can cause dogs to become anxious or afraid.
Additionally, changes in barometric pressure caused by thunderstorms may also affect a dog's sense of security and cause them to become agitated.
Is it normal for dogs to get scared of thunder?
Yes, it is normal for dogs to experience fear or anxiety during thunderstorms. However, if their fear persists or gets worse over time, it may be a sign of an underlying medical issue and should be addressed by a veterinarian as soon as possible. In some cases, drugs or behavioral therapies may be prescribed to help your pup cope better with storms.
What are signs that my dog is scared of thunder?
Canine storm anxiety takes many forms, but typical signs of fear in dogs include barking, panting, hiding, trembling, shaking, and pacing. Other signs to watch out for are excessive drooling, loss of appetite, and destructive behavior.
They may also display aggression towards people or other animals. If your pup is exhibiting any of these behaviors during thunderstorms, it’s important to take steps to help them cope and reduce their anxiety levels as soon as possible.
All in all...
It's important to remain patient and loving with your dog's storm anxiety even when a thunderstorm happens, as a lot of their fear reactions and behavior can be out of their control. With patience and consistency, you can help your pup manage their fear of thunderstorms and reduce their anxiety levels this summer. Just remember to keep an eye on their behavior, consult with a professional when necessary, and use these tips as guidance.