Thunderstorm Phobias in Pets

Published 11:14am 1 December 2021

Thunderstorm Phobias in Pets
Words by Kylie Knight

ONE of the biggest worries for pet owners during the warmer months is thunderstorm phobias.

Dogs will sometimes react out of fear, when they hear thunder, and in some cases may try to frantically escape resulting in an injury. They may also react to lightning, the noise of rain, and other associated stimuli such as the smell of rain.

You might also notice other behaviours such as vocalising, trembling, destructive behaviours, inappropriate toileting, hiding, pacing or excessive drooling.

If you know there is a storm forecast, make sure your pet is secured somewhere safe on your property where they can’t hurt themselves or escape. It is important your pet can feel safe and remain secure during the thunderstorm event. There are many tools that can work well for pets, such as wearing a thundershirt for example, which is designed to apply a constant, gentle pressure (like swaddling an infant baby).

You can also try to find a quiet area for your pet to rest and try putting on some background noise to dull the sound of the storm. Closing curtains and blinds will also help, as they won’t be startled by the sudden flashes of lightning. Many dogs will have an area they prefer to place themselves during the storm, so provided it is safe, let them take refuge there until the storm passes and keep a close eye on them.

If they are being cared for by someone else during storm season, be sure to let the carer know your pet suffers from this phobia and discuss with them the things that need to be considered for your pet’s wellbeing.

If they suffer from a significant storm phobia, it is a good idea to speak to your veterinarian to discuss the options available to ensure that the phobia is managed correctly. Being proactive is the key.

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