Thunderstorm season can be stressful for certain people and for their pets. If your pet gets stressed out during a thunderstorm it can be stressful for everyone in the household. What can you do to keep your pet calm and reassure him or her? We have several tips for you that we hope are helpful and relieve some of the stress during these natural occurrences:
Keep your pet inside the house when there is a thunderstorm happening outside. If your pet is outside then they are going to panic and may run off somewhere. This can lead to many different and tragic scenarios.
- Pay some attention to your pet but be careful not to “cuddle” them because this can help to encourage their fear. This can make the situation worse because you are teaching your pet that their fear is justified.
- Keep your pet in an enclosed and insulated area. This will help them to feel safe and protected from the storm that is happening outside.
- Offer your pet plenty of fun activities to keep them busy if you are not going to be home. Leave a few treats too.
- Purchase a Thundershirt, a pressure blanket or some type of wrap. These items “swaddle” your pet and help to calm anxiety and other stress reactions.
- Act like all is normal. Your pet will notice if you are feeling anxious during a thunderstorm and will react to it.
- Offer a “safe haven”. This could be an area that is under a bed or in a closet. Place a towel or blanket there and some toys so that your pet knows that he or she is welcome to hide out there and ride out the storm.
- Cover up the noise. Run a fan or humidifier to drown out the noise or make it less noticeable. A TV or radio may be a bad choice because the reception can cut out during a storm. A DVD or other type of pre-recorded program could be a good choice.
- Make sure your pet is wearing a collar with up to date ID tags so that if they do escape they can be returned to their rightful owner. Microchips are a good option.
- Bake something in the over to mask the common smells that occur during a storm.
- Desensitise your dog to the sounds of storms using my PupAudio podcast. Click here for free access.
- Offer positive reinforcement when your pet is calm. Give them a reward for being quiet and not reacting to what is going on outside, the same as you would if they did a trick or a good behaviour.
- If your pet has extreme reactions to bad thunderstorms, speak with your veterinarian. The veterinarian could provide specific suggestions because they are familiar with your pet. In the most extreme cases they may even prescribe anti-stress medication to help calm your pet.
When you know that a storm is approaching, prepare in advance by making certain that your pet has a safe place to weather the storm. Stock up on treats and other items that you may need during this stressful time.