Why do some animals seem to know before we do that a storm’s coming? One theory is that they can sense changes in barometric pressure. Whatever the reason, a lot of pets suffer from anxiety during a storm. It can be heart breaking to look over at your furry family member and see them trembling with fear. So, what to do to calm your pet during the worst of storms? Here’s a few tips to help your pets weather the next storm.
- Know the signs that your pet is suffering from anxiety during a storm: whining, pacing, becoming destructive, panting, hiding and many more.
- Keep Calm! Dogs and animals can pick up on their humans’ feelings, so it is important for you to stay calm if you are to calm your dog during a thunderstorm. If they sense your anxiety, that will only make them feel and act worse. Remember, it’s only a storm and it will pass.
- Let cats hide. Make sure your cat has access to its favorite hiding place and let it stay there until the storm’s over. Otherwise, frightened cats may bite or scratch to defend themselves.
- Create a safe place for your dog. If it feels safest under your bed, make sure your dog has access to your bedroom. The Humane Society of the United States suggests creating a hiding place that’s small, dark and shielded as much as possible from frightening sounds. Put some food near the hiding place so your dog will associate it with pleasant experiences. And encourage it to go there as soon as you hear thunder rumbling in the distance. Never force your pet to go to the hiding place, and be sure it’s not trapped there and can leave at any time.
- Create white noise. Turn on a fan, radio or television near your animal’s hiding place to block out the sound of thunder. Playing music or putting the TV on can help distract your pet from the noise outside. Do not put it on louder than usual, as this could create more noise stress.
- Distract your pet. A game of fetch, or play with his or her favorite toy, for example, can take the dog’s mind off the thunder.
- Try a Thundershirt. Thundershirts use gentle hugging to calm your dog or cat. ThunderShirt’s gentle, constant pressure has a dramatic calming effect for most dogs and cats if they are anxious, fearful or overexcited.
- Don’t crate your pet. A frightened dog can injure itself in a crate.
- If your dog has an accident during the storm, be patient and understanding. Don’t make a big deal about it, and be prepared to clean up without a lot of fanfare.
If you have tried everything and your pet is still having a hard time coping with stress during a storm, you might want to consider asking your veterinarian for help. There are a few medications and prescription diets that your veterinarian could recommend to help ease your pet’s anxiety.