As a rumbling of thunder rolls in with the clouds, your dog is desperately clawing at you. He is pacing back and forth… and back and forth… Or, you come home to a house wreckage. Does this sound familiar? If so, your dog may be suffering from thunder phobia. Don’t worry, you’re not the only one. Some of our paw-patients here at My Vet Animal Hospital – Waterloo suffer from thunder phobia too.

Thunder storms are scary. It’s normal for dogs to be a little stressed but they should settle down eventually. Apart from the house damage and your puppy being really scared, thunder phobia is dangerous for them. During the panic attack, they often jump fences, dig their way out of the yard and aimlessly run around. They might get lost and worse, they might even get hit by a car!

So, you might have just found out about your puppy’s thunder phobia. Or maybe you’ve known about it for a long time. Dealing with thunder phobia requires multiple actions working together (fancy name is: multi-modal therapy).

Here are the top 5 tips to help your pet’s thunder phobia.

1. Environmental Change

It’s important that they have a spot that they can feel secure. So make a “safe spot” for them. Pick a room without windows or with thick curtains. Flashing light is very scary for them. A “safe spot” in the room like his crate or a comfy mat under a table is ideal. Dogs find small and covered areas comforting, much like a den. Now here’s the important part: do this at least a month BEFORE the thunder/rainy season and teach them that this is their safe spot. Nothing bad is allowed to happen here. Reward them for spending time there with praise, treats, and toys. Under no circumstances should you force them to go into their safe spot. They have to want to spend time in their safe spot on their own.

2. Training

You want to train your pets so that they shouldn’t be afraid of thunder. When they seek for our attention during the thunder episodes, they’re saying, “I’m afraid. Should I be afraid?” and by comforting them with pats, cuddles and soothing voice, we’re unintentionally replying “Yes, it’s very scary. Your concern is legitimate.” This reinforces their fear and the fear will get worse each time. Instead, maintain a happy voice and attitude. Be playful and offer their favourite toy, be it a chew toy or tug of war. Distract them. Chewing can help with anxiety.  

3. Thundershirt

Thundershirt is a special jacket for pets that creates a hugging effect; like a constant cuddle that they can walk around with. It is important to put the shirt on BEFORE they start stressing. Checking the weather forecast prior would be handy. For example, if a thunder storm is going to happen tonight, put the shirt on in the morning. Remember to get the correct sizing for your pet as it should fit nice and snug.

Source: www.thundershirt.com.au

4. Adaptil Collar/Spray

The next tip that can help is a feel good pheromone called Adaptil. It comes in a spray, infusion or collar form. It releases a feel good smell that reminds them of their mummy! It works fantastic for some dogs but not as well for some others. We recommend giving it a try and seeing how your puppy goes.

Source: www.adaptil.com/au/

5. Medication

This is the last resort for pets with serious thunder phobias. The aim of medication is to simply take the edge off as some pets are so anxious and terrified of thunder storms they often hurt themselves. If your pet suffers from severe thunder phobia, please speak to your veterinarian so that they can tailor the correct medication(s) for your pets.

If you have any questions or would like to know more about thunder phobias, please give us a call or come in and see one of our pawesome staff!

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Our team is here to answer your questions and get an appointment scheduled for you.

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