Summer in Denver means often there will be a thunderstorm. With the bad storms of the past few nights, we have received a burst of calls about dogs and their thunderstorm anxiety. It is not an uncommon phenomenon.
The noise of thunder, bright flashes of lightning and the changes intensities of rain and/or hail can all be frightening to our canine companions. It’s a normal reaction that can, for some pets, develop into a true phobia. What can be done to help?
1. Make sure that your pet is wearing a collar with current id tags and/or has a microchip for permanent identification. This is in case your pet makes a break and runs out the door during a storm.
2. Try to confine Fido to an interior room with no or very few windows or doors to outside. Pull the drapes and blinds to help buffer noise. If crate-trained, place your pet in their crate in this room or area. Your dog is craving a quiet den-like space to hunker down in for the storm’s duration.
3. Some pets may need to be close. Speak and move calmly. Provide a distraction like brushing or an interactive toy such as a Kong toy filled with peanut butter.
4. Turn on television or radio to provide white noise.
For some pets, the stress of storms and/or fireworks may increase and they need further support to help decrease their stress. Work with your veterinarian to devise a plan that may include anti-anxiety medications and products such as a Thundershirt.
PS: We will be very shortly carrying Thundershirts for our patients.