The Calm Before the Storm
By Dr. Megan Forgan
We are officially in the summer months of 2020, which apparently this year means a lot of stormy weather. While some of us humans love a good storm-watching event, for a lot of our dogs, storms can cause an insane amount of anxiety. Here are some tips to help your dogs become brave storm-watching souls.
- Start Young: Dealing with anxiety can be difficult, so prevention is key. One of the key training aspects for any new dog is desensitizing them to scary noises. Start by finding YouTube videos of thunder, and playing them quietly. While the videos are playing, make sure to give your dogs loads of their favorite treats. This will help them build positive associations with the thunder, so they learn not to be afraid of it. You can gradually increase the volume of the videos to make it more realistic to an actual storm. Make sure you never stop giving treats!
- Cool Clothes: There are many different products out there that can be used to try and calm down a dog during a thunderstorm. The most well known is a “Thunder Shirt”, which is essentially a weighted jacket. The weight is meant to provide a calming effect. These products can work great in some dogs, but may not be enough for other dogs.
- Miraculous Medications: For some dogs, natural type therapies simply are not enough. These dogs often benefit from anti-anxiety medications. Remember anxiety is a very distressing feeling for the dog, and letting them just “get through it”, is not fair. The medications that we use for thunderstorm phobias are for situational anxiety, meaning they are just given as needed. They work best when given prior to the start of a storm, which is normally preceded by a drop in barometric pressure. You can buy a device to measure barometric pressure at home, and when this drops, you can then give your dog its anti-anxiety medications at that time.
If your dog is experiencing thunder storm anxiety, please contact the Leduc Animal Clinic. We would be more than happy to guide you through the different options available for you and your dog.