Why are dogs afraid of thunderstorms?

Why are dogs afraid of thunderstorms?

26/01/2020

Why are dogs afraid of thunderstorms?

Dogs can fear thunder and lightning because they don’t know what it is. Such a loud sound can be scary and seem a danger.

Dogs that have an extreme fear of thunder can run away, or even harm themselves or others. January and February can bring wild weather around Australia, so it’s important to have a plan in place to keep your dog safe and address the fear of thunder.

Is my dog afraid of thunder?

Some signs that a dog is scared of thunder include: 

  • Shivering
  • Hiding 
  • Refusing to eat
  • Tail between the legs
  • Panting
  • Pacing
  • Licking the lips

How to help a dog that is afraid of thunder?

1. Microchip and register: if the worse should happen and your pet runs away, it’s important that your pet’s identification details are up to date. This makes it a lot easier to locate them if they run away.

2. Be calm: dogs can detect changes in human behaviour, so it’s important to remain calm and behave normally during their distress. Never punish a fearful dog or force it to do anything it doesn’t want to do. 

3. Create a safe space: allow the dog to stay somewhere dark, sheltered and quiet during a storm – a spare room is ideal. Make sure they have access to food, treats and water.

4. Distract your dog: play gentle music or turn the TV on low-volume to drown out the sound of the thunder. Youtube has a number of calming playlists for pets.

5. Try a thunder shirt: some dogs are comforted by wearing a thunder shirt (a cosy, weighted jacket) or soft blanket. This doesn’t work for all dogs though, so respect your pet’s preference.

6. Ask your vet: if your dog’s fear is so extreme that they are truly suffering and risk harming themselves or others, speak to your vet or a dog behaviourist. They may be able to advise on medication and help plan a course of action.

7. Hire a pet sitter: if the weather forecast looks stormy, visit Pawshake and contact a pet sitter for home visits. They can drop in and make sure your dog is calm and quiet on a stormy day.