Monsoon season is swiftly approaching. It’s not just the boom of thunder that generates a fear response in fearful dogs. Lightning, wind, rain, dark skies, changes in barometric pressure and even odors can elicit a fearful response. Also, storm phobic dogs often know a storm is on the way long before humans do. Do everything reasonably possible to limit your dog’s exposure to storms. Find a safe place your dog can go to avoid all aspects of the storm.
Minimizing your dog’s storm anxiety:
A safe room: This ‘safe room’ should have a solid-sided crate and leave the door open. It should also contain food, water, treats and toys. At the approach of a storm, turn on the lights in the room so any flashes of lightening that make it through the window coverings won’t be too obvious.
Play calming music (musicmypet.com and musicpet.com) in the safe room at a volume just loud enough to drown out remote thunder claps.
Spend some play time with your dog in the room when it’s not storming, and then see if she’ll go to her safe place on her own when she senses the approach of a thunderstorm. Your dog should have 24/7 access to her safe room, even when you’re not at home.
Purchase a storm jacket for your fearful pet. There is the Storm Defender the Anxiety Wrap, and the Thundershirt to choose from (and there may be others as well). Some of these wraps have anti-static linings; all are designed to be snug-fitting to give dogs a feeling of being swaddled that is comforting to them. All three have proved very helpful for a certain percentage of dogs with storm phobia.
Ask for help. If nothing you attempt seems to help your phobic pet, I recommend consulting an animal behaviorist in your area. Call us for the local behaviorist that we recommend.
Our practice is unique in that we provide medical care to multiple species in the greater Tucson area. Three of our veterinarians specialize in the care of dogs and cats and the other three veterinarians specialize in the care of horses and livestock.