Many pets are truly terrified of thunderstorms. There are some steps pet owners can take to help their furry friends cope with storms. Finding what works best for your pet may take some trial and error. We can help make a plan for your pet – here are the basic steps we use.
- Find a spot in your house for your pet to stay during the storm that ideally has no windows – like a closet or bathroom. It is great if your pet has chosen their own safe place. Be sure your pet has access to the safe place even if you are not home.
- Turn on the radio or TV to help mask the storm noise. There is special music called Through a Dog’s Ear and Through a Cat’s Ear designed to calm pets that is available online as a download or CD.
- Sit calmly with your pet and let him know you aren’t afraid of the storm – anxiety is contagious!
- Try desensitization by introducing storm sounds to your pet that are quiet enough to not cause anxiety and associate those sounds with something your pet loves like play, doing tricks, or fabulous treats. This is a slow process where the sounds get increasingly louder as your pet learns to associate thunderstorms with something good.
- Some pets feel calmer when they wear an anxiety wrap like the Thundershirt, available at pet stores.
- Pheromone therapy helps some pets with anxiety. DAP is made for dogs from the pheromone produced from lactating mother dogs. Feliway is made for cats from facial pheromone. Both come in several forms, but the easiest to use is a plug-in diffuser placed in the safe room. Change the refill monthly.
- Medication is very helpful for many pets. Thunderstorm phobia is a serious behavioral problem for many pets. Dogs can get so frantic that they jump through windows and can be badly injured. Highly anxious pets have run away from home and been lost during storms. We have several medications that we prescribe for our patients – some are used daily during thunderstorm season and some are used prior to each storm.
Ask us what's right for your pet.