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Pet Safety Tips During a Storm

Learn how to calm your pet during a storm, why dogs fear thunder and how dogs use their senses to predict a coming storm.


A volunteer holding a dog

Pet Safety Tips During a Storm

1. How to Calm a Dog During a Storm:

  • Stay with your dog. If your dog fears thunderstorms, being alone worsens anxiety. If you’re unavailable, arrange a trusted friend or neighbor to stay with them.
  • Remain calm. Your emotions affect your dog. Speak soothingly and maintain relaxed body language.
  • Offer distractions. Distract your dog with toys, games, treats, calming music, or TV.
  • Provide a safe space. Dogs often feel secure in enclosed areas. Use a crate or a closed-off bathroom/closet.
  • Counter noise. If storms are loud, use fans, white noise machines, or low-volume thunderstorm sound recordings.
  • Use calming remedies. Options like Thundershirts, calming collars, pheromone diffusers, and vet-prescribed medications can help.
  • Practice desensitization. Gradually expose your dog to storm sounds, rewarding calm behavior.
  • Seek professional help. Consult a certified animal behaviorist for severe cases.

2. Why Dogs Fear Thunder:

  • Loud noises. Dogs’ superior hearing amplifies thunder’s impact.
  • Unfamiliar sounds. Thunder’s rarity confuses and frightens dogs.
  • Air pressure changes. Storm-related air pressure shifts unsettle dogs.
  • Lightning. Dogs associate lightning with loud noises and fear being struck.
  • Past experiences. Negative past encounters with thunder amplify fear.

3. Senses Helping Dogs Detect Storms:

  • Hearing: Dogs hear distant thunder, which startles them.
  • Smell: Dogs detect pre-storm air changes through heightened smell.
  • Barometric pressure: Dogs sense shifts preceding storms.
  • Static electricity: Dogs feel uncomfortable storm-induced static electricity.

Experts suggest dogs might intuitively sense storms, but no evidence supports this.

Signs of Storm Anxiety in Dogs:

  • Pacing, whining.
  • Seeking safe spots, hiding.
  • Shaking, panting.
  • Vomiting, diarrhea.
  • Excessive barking, whining.

Remember, each dog is unique. Patience, understanding, and support are key in helping dogs cope with thunderstorm anxiety.