Thunderstorms and Your Dog: What Happens & How You Can Help

It isn’t a proper spring in Indiana without plenty of rain and thunderstorms. As our team at the Good Dog Hotel & Spa knows first-hand, storms can affect your dog’s mood and behavior.

Canines can get anxious, frightened and jittery when thunder and lightning come into play, and for good reason. Weather affects them in heightened ways that humans don’t experience. Take a look at the signs of anxiety to look for, what your dog might be experiencing, and ways you can help soothe your dog when bad weather happens.

Signs of Anxiety

If your dog is anxious at the approach of a thunderstorm, look for these signs:

  • ears back
  • tail down
  • eyes wide
  • panting
  • lip-licking
  • yawning
  • trying to hide
  • crying or whining

In extreme cases, panic can escalate to dangerous levels during inclement weather. Some dogs have been known to dig through walls – all the way through the drywall – or even jump through windows or glass doors.

Physical Sensations

Dogs can sense when barometric pressure drops. Add to the mix darkening skies, high winds, flashing lightning and roaring thunder, and your dog can become fearful rather quickly. Some of the sensations your dog might experience include:

Noise aversion. Some dogs become uncomfortable or even phobic about loud noises.

Electricity. Large dogs and those with long or double coats easily build up static electricity, the way we do when we wear a sweater and get a shock from the car door if we’re not wearing rubber-soled shoes. A dog that’s already nervous during storms may get shocked when touching its nose to a metal object. In such cases, mild discomfort can escalate to full-on phobia.

Suggestions for Soothing

If you have experience with storm-phobic dogs, you might have noticed that they often seek out hiding places within your home. It’s common for those hiding places to be bathtubs, Jacuzzis or behind a toilet tank. Why? Because those places are grounded against electric shocks.

With that in mind, here are some suggestions for helping your dog feel better during thunderstorms:

  • Buy an anti-static jacket to keep the dog calm
  • Rub your pooch down with an anti-static dryer sheet
  • Try a snug-fitting wrap while comforting
  • Let your dog decide where it feels safe
  • Make the safe space more comfortable by adding white-noise machines to buffer the noise of thunder
  • Consider acoustic tiling for soundproofing
  • Consult with your veterinarian to see if anti-anxiety medication is necessary to improve your dog’s quality of life

How do Thunderstorms Affect Your Dog?

If your dog has specific behaviors that correlate with weather patterns, we’d love to hear about it. How do you help sooth them, and what specific behaviors do you witness? Please share your feedback below.

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