Even the bravest dogs can find themselves extremely distressed under certain seemingly ordinary circumstances. Many of us dog owners have even felt extremely sympathy during local fireworks displays and noisy house parties, but most can agree that nothing instills fear in a dog’s heart quite like thunderstorms.
While not all canines are prone to signs of anxiety during a thunderstorm, the reality is that the majority of dogs are quite affected by this pretty common occurrence. But, that doesn’t mean that dog owners are helpless when it comes to providing them with a sense of relief as the thunder roars, as you will soon find out.
Why are Dogs So Afraid of Thunderstorms?
When you think about the nature of a thunderstorm, it’s not surprising that many dogs react quite harshly. Dogs do not like unexpected noises and other sensations, as it makes them feel insecure in their environment. And, there is a good chance that dogs are biologically sensitive to severe weather, as in the wild, these types of weather events could be very dangerous to their survival.
The most common aspects of a thunderstorm that dogs are sensitive to include:
Signs That Your Dog is Distressed During a Thunderstorm
Dogs are biologically programmed to hide their distress as much as possible, which make it hard for a pet owner to know just how affected their pup is during a storm. But, there are often subtle telltale signs that your canine isn’t in the best state of mind, and watching out for these little clues can help you know when it’s time to take action and provide them with support in some way.
If your dog is exhibiting even one of these signs, it’s safe to assume that they are in a state of distress and will benefit from one of the calming tips that we’ll be discussing below.
When Should You Take Your Dog to the Veterinarian?
A dog exhibiting stress due to a commonly triggering circumstance like a thunderstorm is not a cause for concern when it comes to their health. This is a very natural and mostly universal response that we see in all canines. But, the severity of their stress response can vary, and in more severe cases, it may be helpful to take them to their veterinarian.
A dog who engages in particularly destructive or aggressive behavior may require some form of behavioral therapy, or some type of calming agent that a vet can recommend. A dog who is self-destructive, such as a dog who chews on themselves during moments of distress, may need some form of medication as these behaviors can be damaging. Dogs who have unusually long-lasting or severe episodes of anxiety may have a deeper underlying cause at play, such as some form of severe trauma or something in their environment that needs to be adjusted to put them more at ease, and a trained veterinarian can help point you in the direction of providing relief.
Preparing Your Dog for a Thunderstorm
No matter how anxious your dog gets during a thunderstorm, there are some tips that can be applied to all canines, to help prepare them for what’s ahead as best as you possibly can.
Tip #1: Try a Dose of CBD
Cannabidiol (CBD) is a gentle option that may help introduce a mellowing effect into your dog’s hypervigilant system during a thunderstorm. Derived from hemp, CBD works with your pet’s endocannabinoid system (ECS) to offer a balancing effect on the body and mind, and more and more vets are recommending it to high-strung canines. Make sure that you talk to your veterinarian before giving a dog hemp, and only choose a product made for pups, which will contain ingredients that are safe for them to ingest.
Tip #2: Set Up a Calming Space
During a thunderstorm, a dog’s natural instinct is to take shelter. You can work with their natural instincts by creating a “safe space” ahead of a thunderstorm. A small, enclosed and comfortable area, such as a fort constructed from cushions and blankets, can make them feel less vulnerable and therefore more at ease.
Tip #3: Drown Out the Noise with Soothing Sounds
The sound of thunder can’t be completely eliminated, but it can be drowned out to enough of an extent to have a positive impact. Consider a white noise machine or soothing music found on YouTube, which can neutralize the frequencies of thunder enough to make it less startling.
Tip #4: Keep Your Household Calm
Make an effort to keep your home as mellow as possible so as to not add to the excitement. This is a good time to turn off the vacuum and the loud TV, and keep your voice down until the thunderstorm has passed.
Tip #5: Be Patient with Their Needs, and Respect Their Boundaries
Ultimately, you need to be patient with and respectful of your dog’s response to a thunderstorm. Do not try to force your dog to play or go outside until it has well passed and be patient if they need a little extra time to recover instead of shaming them or showing frustration. How you react to your dog’s response can add to their emotional distress if you’re not careful.
Chill Paws: The Perfect Stop for Storm-Sensitive Dogs
Thunderstorms can be anywhere from mildly distressing to downright panic-inducing, depending on the dog’s history and temperament. But, as a canine owner, you can feel empowered knowing that there are ways to help your furry friend. If you want to go the CBD route, we recommend the CBD dog treats and tinctures at Chill Paws, which are formulated specially for canines and contain the perfect concentration of hemp, paired with dog-friendly ingredients, to offer gentle yet effective support.