If your dog is wary of loud noises and fearful of thunder rumbles, it's likely that storms aren't very fun for you and your pet. Dog thunderstorm anxiety is no joke — many dogs struggle with it, and it can be difficult for pet parents to ensure their dog remains calm through thunder and rain. Lucky for you, at HolistaPet, we've found solutions that can help! If you've been wondering how to calm a dog during a storm, this article's for you.
We'll guide you through some of the simplest methods to help calm your dog during a storm, from building a puppy-safe space to holistic products like CBD. So grab a blanket and get comfy — let's get to soothing your anxious dog together!
Why Are Dogs Scared of Storms?
Dogs are often afraid of storms for many reasons. If a storm is coming, you may even notice your dog acting strangely before the storm even hits. This is because a dog's hearing is much more sensitive than a human's, and they can usually hear it approaching before we do. Canines can also sense changes in the air pressure — since there's no way for them to understand why it happens, it can make them feel uncomfortable or scared.
For some dogs, the sound of thunder — as well as fireworks, gunshots, car exhausts popping, etc. — may be what upsets them. For others, it's the whole package: thunder, lightning, heavy rain, barometric pressure changes (which can cause slight discomfort in humans and pets), static electricity, and even the scent of rain coming. This combination can make for the perfect storm. Some dogs who already suffer from more general anxiety may feel worse due to the storm.
Are All Dogs Scared of Storms?
It may come as a relief to many pet owners that their dog isn't the only one suffering from anxiety. According to a study completed in 2020, about 70% of dogs suffer from anxiety. At least 30% of these dogs experience noise anxiety, including storm anxiety. Many dog parents believe that the sheer volume of thunder is what causes their dogs to become so upset.
Some breeds are also more prone to experiencing anxieties than others! Smaller breeds are usually much more nervous than larger dogs. It's also common for some pups to be pre-disposed to experiencing anxiety through genetics. This means that if their parents or other extended family were nervous in nature, they likely would be too.
How Can I Calm My Dog During a Storm?
There are many ways that you can help calm your dog's fear during storm season! We already know dogs may feel afraid of storms for various reasons. Whether it's because of noise or static electricity in the air, home remedies may help your dog relax and find comfort during stormy weather.
Remember that you may need to first work with your veterinarian to determine if your dog is struggling with thunderstorm anxiety, general noise anxiety, separation anxiety, or a combination of stressors. Identifying the root of the problem will help you determine the right course of treatment for your pet. Before you give your vet a call, though, let's read through some tried-and-true home remedies to see if there are any that'd benefit your furry friend in the meantime!
Keep Your Dog Company
When it comes to storms, it's not likely that your fearful dog wants to be alone. One of the easiest ways to help comfort and calm dogs through bad weather is sitting with them! You are your pup's ultimate protector, and your presence will likely comfort them and help make them feel safer. While this may not completely rid them of their fear, it will probably make them calmer.
Bring Outdoor Dogs Inside
This may seem like a no-brainer, but if there's a storm approaching, it's probably a good idea to bring your dogs inside (even if they're outdoor dogs). Giving your pups a warm, safe place out of the rain and away from loud thundering will likely help them feel much more at ease.
It's also probably much more physically safe for your dog to be indoors during a storm! Aside from lightning and thunder scaring your dog, your pup will be at higher risk of becoming sick or hurt if left out in the rain.
Create a Safe & Stress-free Environment
Now that you've brought your pups inside, what's next? If your dog isn't an indoor dog, they may not already have their own safe space in your home. Luckily, it's not so hard to create one last-minute! This space doesn't have to entail anything crazy — you don't need a sound-proof room to create a cozy, quiet hideout.
You can build your dog their own comfy hideaway using:
- A crate or dog bed (opt for extra blankets if you're missing this)
- Lots of blankets and pillows
- Their favorite soft toys
- An old shirt or sweater that smells like you
If your dog doesn't want to leave your side, you can set up this cozy area in a room where you spend a lot of time. Otherwise, you can set it up in the corner of a quiet area in your house, like a bedroom, office, spacious closet, or bathtub.
Calm Your Dog With CBD
Did you know that cannabidiol (or CBD) may be able to help your dog maintain contentment and feel calm, even through environmental stressors like storms? This is because CBD interacts with your dog's cannabinoid receptors! These receptors help support the endocannabinoid system, which maintains most mammals' bodily systems.
It's not difficult to feed CBD to your pet, either! At HolistaPet, we carry a wide array of CBD pet treats in great flavors. These include:
- Dog Treats
- Soft Chews
But how do you feed your dog CBD? Easy! We suggest starting with a smaller serving to see how well they tolerate their CBD. You can always gradually increase this amount depending on your dog's weight. Visit our guide to learn more about administering your dog the "right" amount of CBD.
Unsure if CBD is right for your furry friend? Give your vet a call for professional advice! They'll be able to help you determine if CBD is right for your pet.
Utilize Dog Calming Remedies
If you have an extra few dollars to spend, there are plenty of dog-calming remedies that you can find at pet stores or online! These remedies include things like:
- Thunder Jackets. When worn properly, these jackets or wraps provide pressure to help soothe and comfort worried pups.
- Lavender Oil. Lavender is soothing to humans, but did you know it's pet-safe? When applied conservatively to bedding or a favorite toy, lavender oil can help relax your pet.
- Compression Hoods. Like thunder jackets, these wraps cover and protect dogs' ears, helping to muffle loud, booming sounds.
- Dog Pheromones. The dog appeasing pheromone (or DAP) is a synthetic pheromone that mimics the same pheromones mother dogs release to calm nursing pups. This makes it a great tool for helping to calm nervous pals!
Distract Your Dog
Sometimes, all your pup needs to feel a bit better is a good distraction. By bringing your pet's attention to something other than the storm, you'll be able to trick them into a better mood! Here are some of our favorite ways to distract our pets:
- Playing a game with them
- Offering them their favorite toy
- Teaching them a new trick
- Turning on music to sing along and dance with
- Cuddling and watching a movie together
Use Sound to Muffle the Noisy Storm
If you don't have a quiet place for your dog to chill or are having trouble distracting them, you can also try using other sounds to help muffle the thunder. You can do this by turning on music or the radio, using a white noise machine, or playing a TV show or movie at a louder volume. When you provide background noise, you're preventing your dog from being able to hone in on scary sounds as they normally would.
You can also use sound to practice desensitization with your pet! This method is more proactive and will likely be able to help your dog over time rather than giving more immediate results.
You can practice this by playing the sound of storms for your dog. Start by finding a playlist on YouTube, Spotify, or Apple Music. Play the track at a very low volume while offering your dog lots of praise and high-value treats (like grilled chicken or carrot pieces). By slowly increasing the track volume over several weeks, this method can lessen or completely eliminate your dog's worry over thunderstorms.
Do I Need To Go to the Vet for My Dog's Storm Anxiety?
When home remedies fail to help soothe your furry friend's worries, it may be time to seek out help from a vet. We also recommend going to the vet if your dog's anxiety is so extreme that they are hurting themselves, destroying property, or exhibiting other fearful behavior. In these cases, your vet may recommend other treatments, including solutions like anti-anxiety medication or behavior modification techniques.
If you need immediate medical assistance or professional advice, please call your vet or another licensed animal specialist for help with your dog. Home remedies are by no means a replacement for a professional's opinion or care and are not meant to cure anxious tendencies or other fearful behaviors.