Pets and Vets: Thunderstorms

Pets and Vets: Thunderstorms

(WBTV) - September is National Preparedness Month and a pop-up thunderstorm is more common during this season.

Dogs who are scared of thunder may also panic about rain, wind, darkening skies and flashes of lightning.

"As your thunderphobic dog's fear starts to incorporate these additional sights and sounds, he may become more distressed with every passing season," the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) said. "It's a good idea to start working with your dog as soon as you notice fearful behavior."

The ASPCA says animals may be more sensitive than humans, which can lead them to panic from the intense noises, dramatic visual stimuli and unexpected chaos of a storm.

Many pets experience anxiety or fear during severe storms and may even try to escape from their home.

Dr. Frances Deller, with Long Animal Hospital in Charlotte, says the best way to calm your pet is find a safe place they like in the house.

"Some dogs feel really safe in their kennel, so that's a good place for them to go when there is a thunderstorm," Dr. Deller said. "Or some dogs like to be next to you. Find somewhere that they feel comfortable."

Dr. Deller says you can also try playing some music, turn the television up a little bit just so that they can't hear the thunder.

"A lot of times it helps to shut the blinds if the lightning scares them," she said.

She said you can also try putting a ThunderShirt on your dog, as well.

"Feel free to talk to your vet, ask them about the anxiety because there are some herbal anti-anxieties out there that can help as well as some prescription medication that can help to calm your dog down when the thunderstorms come up and they get really scared," Deller said.

The ASPCA has these tips on calming storm-related anxiety:

  • Fearful animals—especially thunder phobic animals—may try to dash out the door. Take precautions to make sure your pet is unable to escape from your house or yard.
  • Make sure ID tags are current and pets are properly micro-chipped.
  • Dog appeasement pheromone or synthetic feline pheromone may ease stress and can be obtained through your veterinarian or a pet product store.

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