In the heat of Charlotte summers, thunderstorms and hurricane season can take a toll on your pet’s well being. Storms can be unpredictable which can be difficult to manage at home. The noises, changes in temperature and atmospheric pressure, wind and flashes of lightning can cause stress for pets, making them feel uneasy. These storms can lead to hiding, shaking, barking, vocalization, or even destructive behavior. These behaviors can be difficult to manage and can put your pet at risk for harming themself or even getting lost. These tips can help you comfort your pet during these difficult seasons.
Every pet can experience anxiety differently. Some pets may not be affected by thunderstorms or exhibit very mild symptoms, while others can become panicked and can even exhibit destructive behaviors from severe stress or inappropriate urination or defecation. It is important to help your pet stay comfortable during these events and prevent the fear from escalating to reinforce further events.
Symptoms of thunderstorm phobia may include:
- Wide eyed appearance
- Vocalizations such as barking or howling
- Clinging to their owners
- Urination or defecation
- Destructive behaviors
Creating a safe space
Routine is important, and providing a safe haven for your pet during thunderstorms can help ease their anxiety. Some pets choose to hide naturally in closets, bathrooms, or quiet, dark spaces. Allowing them to take shelter in these places or even encouraging them to use their crate by placing it in these locations can be helpful to ease their stress.
Music or other noise can be a helpful distraction for your pet. It can help drown out the unfamiliar noises of the storms and provide a sense of comfort. Studies have shown that classical music can help ease stress in our furry friends. By providing a distraction during the storm, your pet may find relief from their anxiety and become more comfortable. Sounds such as music, television, or even your voice can help provide your pet comfort during these challenging periods.
Give them space
Allowing your pet personal space and not penalizing their behavior can decrease their anxiety. If your pet is acting out of fear and is negatively reinforced, it can worsen their fear in the next event. If you have a young puppy, playing sound machine noises of thunderstorms to encourage them to get used to unfamiliar noises can help to de-escalate anxiety. It is important to allow your pet to react safely and take precautions to prevent the anxiety from escalating and being reinforced.
Weighted blankets for dogs
Thundershirts are similar to weighted blankets used in humans. Compression therapy has been anecdotally shown to help decrease anxiety and promote comfort in dogs during stressful events. Wrapping pets in a snug blanket or shirt may also provide some relief.
Pheromone therapy can be a useful adjunctive therapy. Adaptil spray, collars, or diffusers provide a pheromone that is similar to what a dog would experience from their mom when they are puppies. It can increase focus and decrease anxiety, which can be helpful in a number of anxiety causing events, specifically thunderstorm phobia.
If the above therapies are not enough to provide your pet relief, there are a number of anti anxiety medications that can be utilized to help your pet. If you feel that your pet’s anxiety is severe and is affecting their quality of life, please consult your veterinarian to discuss the best option for your pet.
It is important to make sure your pet is physically in a safe location during a thunderstorm or hurricane. If they are prone to anxiety, it is recommended to keep them in a safe space to prevent behaviors from escalating and leading to them becoming lost or missing. During stressful events, pets are more prone to panicking, which can lead to running away or getting lost. It is important to keep your pet safe. A microchip and collar with current identification and contact information can be crucial in case your pet becomes lost to help you become reunited with your pet.
By providing a safe comfortable area for your pet during these times of stress and distractions such as music, a thundershirt, and pheromone therapy, we hope your pet will experience some relief during these stressful events. If you feel your pets anxiety is severe and requires medical intervention, please contact us to consult with one of our veterinarians or schedule an appointment.