In many parts of the country storm season has officially arrived. Wind, hail, thunderstorms, tornados, and flash floods are all bound to occur. If you haven’t already, It’s important to establish a safety plan with your family in the event of severe weather. Where will you all meet if a natural disaster is imminent? If you’re not home or in your safe shelter, how will you check in with all your family to ensure you’re all okay? It’s crucial to include your pets in your family’s safety plan. A family member should be designated to ensure all pet’s are collared, leashed and accounted for in the event of severe weather. It’s incredibly important to consider that your pet may be anxious during a storm.
Loud storm noises cause pets to become anxious and scared. As humans, we understand what these noises are and why they’re happening, but pets do not.
Dogs specifically can sense a storm approaching because they are sensitive to barometric pressure. This may cause some dogs to become panicked while other dog’s may not be anxious at all. You may notice your dog acting anxious, pacing, trying to run away, or hide before a storm arrives and throughout the duration of the storm. Some dogs become destructive due to the loud, frightening sounds. They may chew furniture, try to escape through open windows, or dig their way out of the yard to run away. Unfortunately, many animal shelters see a rise in dog intakes after a thunderstorm due to panicked dogs running away.
If you’re home and your dog is frightened take these steps:
Play Calming Sounds- Keeping the TV on or playing soothing music at a gentle sound level, to dull out the sound of the storm is beneficial. Blaring the TV or music will only add to your dog’s anxiety and fear of the loud noises going on around him.
Put Your Dog’s Thundershirt On- The Thundershirt is worn around your dog, providing a constant, but gentle pressure to your dog’s body. Its purpose is to alleviate your dog’s anxiety and prevent any fearful or destructive behavior. It’s compared to swaddling a newborn.
Keep Calm– Acting calm will help your dog significantly. Dogs can sense when their human’s feel anxious. If your dog is visibly scared, your first reaction may be to cuddle and hold him. However, this isn’t always the best idea. This may cause his anxiety to increase, especially if you’re nervous too. While your intentions mean well, he may feel overwhelmed.
Try distracting your dog by playing with him and going about your normal routine. It will make the both of you much calmer and reassure your dog he is safe inside with you.
Always Provide a Safe Spot- Whether you’re home or not, your dog should always have a safe area in a room of the house designated for him to comfort himself. If you aren’t home to comfort your dog, this safe spot will be your dog’s safety net. This room should be secured so your dog cannot escape to run away and become lost. It should include a cozy blanket and his favorite toys. Most importantly, this area should have no objects he could swallow or destructively chew on.
If your dog is crate trained make sure their crate is readily available to them at all times in this room. Most crate trained dogs find their crate to be a safe place. If a storm hits you may notice your dog prefers to be in his crate. In the event you’re not home, it’s more than likely your dog will go inside to comfort himself. Make sure to keep a blanket and chew toy inside for him to gnaw on.