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Is Your Dog Afraid of Thunderstorms?

July 15, 2015
Your Labrador retriever Boomer seems to have life by the tail. This boisterous four-year-old canine housemate struts through the neighborhood on his daily walks. He boldly storms through the dog park, leading the “large dog” pack as he tears around the yard. However, your super-confident pooch turns into a whimpering puppy when he’s faced with an approaching thunderstorm. At the first distant rumble, your eighty-pound dog tries to hide under the couch. As the storm nears, he paces nervously through the house. You’ve even seen him dig at the hallway baseboards. You don’t want Boomer to injure himself, and you’d like to help your anxious companion. Tomorrow, he’ll visit Fairfield Animal Hospital, your Cypress, TX veterinary clinic, for expert behavioral counseling.

Sources of the Storm Anxiety

Several factors might trigger Boomer’s storm anxiety. As the storm gathers strength, he might experience tiny shocks from the static electricity. Howling winds and barometric pressure changes could make him nervous. However, he’s probably scared most by the deafening thunder and brilliant lightning flashes.

Dogs Susceptible to Storm Fears

Although any dog can develop storm anxiety, herding breeds are especially prone to this terrifying phobia. If Boomer battled separation anxiety, or another fear-related condition, he might also be at higher risk for storm fears. Some dogs can’t handle any loud noises, regardless of the source. However, other pooches panic over thunderstorms while dealing with fireworks or other disturbing racket without problems.

Create a Safe Retreat

Give your scared canine companion a secure storm refuge, such as a closet or small interior room. Give him several options, and don’t try to confine him. Bring in his blanket and favorite toys; and play calming music that partially drowns out the storm. Give Boomer some welcome normalcy with a familiar obedience command. Softly say, “Down-Stay,” and encourage him to lie at your feet. Reward him with belly rubs and ear scratches.

Calming Canine Clothing

You’ve heard about securely fitting doggie sweaters and wraps. These garments hug the dog’s body, supposedly making him feel safer when he’s under stress. These non-prescription clothing items aren’t guaranteed to work; however, they’re relatively cheap and might be worth a try. Consult your vet before buying one for Boomer. Fairfield Animal Hospital, your Cypress, TX veterinary clinic, can provide guidance to help Boomer handle the storms. If your dog is afraid of thunderstorms, contact us for expert advice.
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