Why are dogs afraid of thunderstorms?

Why are dogs afraid of thunderstorms?

26/01/2020

Why are dogs afraid of thunderstorms?

Dogs can fear thunder and lightning because they don’t know what it is. Such a loud sound can be scary and seem a danger.

Dogs that have an extreme fear of thunder can run away, or even harm themselves or others. January and February can bring wild weather, so it’s important to have a plan in place to keep your dog safe and address the fear of thunder.

Is my dog afraid of thunder?

Some signs that a dog is scared of thunder include: 

  • Shivering
  • Hiding 
  • Refusing to eat
  • Tail between the legs
  • Panting
  • Pacing
  • Licking the lips

How to help a dog that is afraid of thunder?

1. Microchip and register: if the worse should happen and your pet runs away, it’s important that your pet’s identification details are up to date. This makes it a lot easier to locate them if they run away.

2. Be calm: dogs can detect changes in human behaviour, so it’s important to remain calm and behave normally during their distress. Never punish a fearful dog or force it to do anything it doesn’t want to do. 

3. Create a safe space: allow the dog to stay somewhere dark, sheltered and quiet during a storm – a spare room is ideal. Make sure they have access to food, treats and water.

4. Distract your dog: play gentle music or turn the TV on low-volume to drown out the sound of the thunder. Youtube has a number of calming playlists for pets.

5. Try a thunder shirt: some dogs are comforted by wearing a thunder shirt (a cosy, weighted jacket) or soft blanket. This doesn’t work for all dogs though, so respect your pet’s preference.

6. Ask your vet: if your dog’s fear is so extreme that they are truly suffering and risk harming themselves or others, speak to your vet or a dog behaviourist. They may be able to advise on medication and help plan a course of action.

7. Hire a pet sitter: if the weather forecast looks stormy, visit Pawshake and contact a pet sitter for home visits. They can drop in and make sure your dog is calm and quiet on a stormy day.