Dogs, fear and Thunderstorms

Dogs and Thunderstorms…

Some dogs have a difficult time during a thunderstorm.  I have been outside walking dogs during a storm, and it is not only dangerous due to the potential of getting struck by lightning, unpleasant as the dogs and I are getting soaked, and if a dog is terrified enough, he or she will pull desperately to get home.  Let’s say that you are 20 minutes from your home and the thunder and lightning is severe–seek shelter where you can, maybe under an awning of a business, or ask someone if you can shelter with your dog on a porch.  What about when you are inside and your dog is shaking and scared because of the thunder and lightning?  There are a number of options available and sometimes it is a matter of finding the one that works for your dog.  In the photo is Teddie, who is modeling a Thundershirt.  Teddie struggles during a storm–he shakes, pants and if the storm happens in the middle of the night, he cannot sleep and therefore his guardian, my associate Eddie, will not be sleeping either.  A Thundershirt can help with fear as soft containment is comforting to some animals; it is like a fabric hug.  Some cats hide during storms, under blankets, in boxes or under beds.  Again, it seems as if some kind of voluntary containment helps with fear during a storm.  And it makes sense as when you are outside in a severe storm,  being in the open without shelter, is a frightening experience–you feel terribly vulnerable.  What about other options to help your dog during a storm?  Some medications can help, whether allopathic or homeopathic/herbal.  One client had an older Lab who would become afraid before the storm, so they would give Jaxson two Benadryl.  If you have ever taken Benadryl you know how sleepy it can make you, and the same holds true for a dog.  Dogs can also take Valerian, which is a calming herb.  The best bet is to avoid taking your dog out during a storm, for your safety and the dog’s as well.  But sometimes we can’t wait for the rain to stop so we need to go out–and this is where a quick walk comes in.  And plenty of dog towels when you get back home.  DSC_0586

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