Fear of thunderstorms is an unfortunate reality for many pets in the U.S.
It’s a fear that experts say can stem from various causes.
According to a study published by the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, fear of storms and the fear of noise in dogs, was closely connected to separation anxiety.
It showed that pets who experienced anxiety had a .052 percent chance of suffering from storm phobia and a 0.90 percent chance of suffering from noise phobia.
Results also revealed that the pets who participated in the study responded differently to noise and thunderstorms. They concluded this difference in reaction may have been because the sounds caused by storms were more unpredictable.
Researchers also recommended that dogs who exhibit any one of these three conditions should be checked for the others.
What Causes Storm Phobia in Pets Differ
While the control group in this instance was more than 1,000 dogs, separation anxiety may not be the underlying cause for your pet. Other experts suggest that storm phobia can occur in breeds that are predisposed to the condition, while a lack of exposure to thunderstorms during early years of development could also play a part.
One thing most experts agree on is that dogs are highly sensitive to the low-frequency rumbles that happen before a storm sets in. The combination of thunder, wind, lightning, barometric pressure changes and static electricity can be enough to send your pooch into permanent hiding. To make things worse, some pets experience static electric shock during storms. When static electricity fields are built up in a storm – dogs then become statically charged.
If you’re not sure whether your pet has storm phobia, there are some common behaviors that The Barking Lot found that you should look for:
- Desire to stick close to loved ones
- Extreme Salivation
- Self-induced trauma
The best way to help your pet is to be prepared when a storm comes. Local weather reports should provide enough warning to help you make things less stressful for your dog in advance.
Create a room your dog feels safe in. He should be comfortable in this area and have access to it at all times. It should also be sound-proof with no windows. Don’t forget to provide enough food and water until the storm blows over.
Some pet owners like to practice desensitization – a kind of therapy used to lessen the fear associated with the noise from the storm. This also helps them get used to it.
What you can do during off-seasons – whenever he shows a fearful response during a storm – is to train your pet to settle down on command. If your dog has never received professional dog training, this is a good time to start.
It may take lots of time patience and love, but it’s when your pet is at a place where he’s moving toward calm behavior is when it should be rewarded.