Clouds gather; you see a strike of lightning in the distance, then a rumble of thunder. The next thing you know, your dog won’t leave your side; she’s panting and trembling, and you both can’t wait for the storm to be over.
A fear of thunderstorms is common in dogs. Even some cats are affected–they may meow, tremble or hide. This fear usually gets worse over time, but there are treatments that can help manage the condition.
It is important you not punish your pet for the behavior. You also should not give her excessive attention. Constant petting or consoling can seem like a reward for the fearful response. Instead, distract your pet by grooming or playing with her. It may help to make sure she has a safe haven to go to, such as a crate (leave the door open) or small room. A cat may prefer a closet or hanging out under the bed. Running a fan to help drown out the storm’s sounds may help.
Make sure you stay calm and upbeat. If you are worried or nervous, your pet will sense that.
If your pet’s reaction is severe or getting worse, there are special behavior modification techniques that can help.
Opinions are mixed on whether special garments that “hug” your pet are effective, but some pet parents swear by them. They are a viable, non-chemical alternative you may want to try to see whether using one will help calm your pet.
In many cases, medications that are given when a storm is expected are helpful in reducing anxiety.
Please contact our office to discuss the options available to help your pet weather a storm without fear.