Updated: Apr 6
With the first distant rumbles of thunder, your dog begins to pant, tremble, pace and whine as it contemplates an escape route from the impending storm. Why are dogs afraid of thunder? There're a number of potential factors that can contribute to a dog being scared of thunder, fireworks and other loud noises.
Not all dogs are afraid of thunder and other noises. Some dogs fear of thunder actually arrive from the environmental changes that they experience prior to a storm’s arrival. Animals are sensitive to changes in barometric pressure and electrostatic fluctuations. Dogs that find these changes particularly disturbing may associate the unsettling sensations with the thunder that is sure to follow. Such fears tend to escalate over time, leading a dog to eventually become fearful of anything associated with a thunderstorm, including the sound of raindrops that may or may not be accompanied by thunder. As the fear becomes more intense, the dog’s reaction also intensifies.
ARE SPECIFIC BREEDS AFRAID OF THUNDERSTORMS
Whether the sound in question is thunder, fireworks, gunshots or backfiring vehicles; specific dog breeds are more afraid of thunder and other loud noises. Some breeds, including Beagles and German Shepherds, have a higher incidence for this fear. Any dog scared of thunder may at one time experienced a frightening occurrence that accompanied thunder or a loud noise during a rain storm.
Pet parents often contribute to making dog’s fear of thunder and other loud noises more severe. If a human typically becomes nervous when a thunderstorms approach, the dog will pick up on these feelings and mimic this behavior. Even a calm and well-intentioned human can intensify their dog’s fear of thunder by being overly comforting during a storm. If the human tries too hard to lavish attention on the dog to convince the dog that all is well, he or she is reinforcing the fearful behavior.
SIGNS OF ANXIETY
Learning the signs that will enable you to recognize when your dog is experiencing fear. By doing so, you can discuss your dog’s anxiety and symptoms with your veterinarian. Each dog will exhibit its own combination of symptoms. Some early behaviors that may be exhibited before the first claps of thunder include:
Seeking out their human companions
Refusal to eat
Attempts to hide or escape
Some additional signs that may present during the height of a thunderstorm or during a fireworks show may include:
Inappropriate or uncontrolled elimination
Increased frantic attempts to escape
Anal gland expression
Inability to focus on commands or other communications made by the owner
There're a number of sedative medications that veterinarians prescribe for dogs that suffer from loud related anxiety. While these are effective options when you know that the noise source is inevitably going to occur, such as fireworks during the Fourth of July; they aren't always helpful for thunderstorms. The fireworks display can be predicted, and you know when it is going to occur. Thunderstorms, however, are not always predictable. Since many of these medications do not take effect until 30 minutes to two hours after administration, that surprise thunderstorm will have passed by the time your dog is sufficiently relaxed.
A safer alternative can be CBD for your pooch. Administering the morning before an expected thunderstorm; then again as the storm begins will help calm the dog during the storm. We affectively treat our dog's thunderstorm and loud noise anxiety with CBD. This is what we do for our 50-pound Pitbull:
If we know a thunderstorm is expected, we will give our dog a 5MG CBD Treat the night before a morning storm; or the morning of a afternoon or nighttime storm. Then, we will give him an additional 5MG Treat as the storm begins.
If we are not going to be home with our pooch; we will give him two 5MG CBD Treats before we leave to ensure he is relaxed. We'll also ensure he is in a comfortable and safe space.
When we get pop-up thunderstorms; we will give our dog two 5MG CBD Treats at the first sign. Generally this is enough; however, there are times we have to give an additional 5MG CBD Treat 30 minutes later.
We subscribe to the "better to be save then sorry" school of thought with our dog Kaipo. He is a rescue that is very triggered by thunderstorms and fireworks; therefore, for his safety, we would rather treat him and not need it then to let him be without during a Texas sized storm.
There are a few simple things that you can try at home to reduce the intensity of your dog’s fear responses. First and foremost, be sure to maintain an attitude that is calm. Additionally, consider the following tips:
Enclose your dog in a confined area where your pup normally feels secure, such as their crate. If you are using a crate, be sure to leave the door of the crate open so that the dog does not feel cornered or trapped.
Place the dog in an interior room of the home that doesn't have windows or outside walls. This will help to muffle the sound.
Provide white noise, such as from an air conditioner, play a radio or the television to provide a buffer against the outside noises.
Keep Fido distracted; make your dog do tricks or play a game. This since of normalcy with help your dog feel safe and take their attention away from their source of anxiety.
If these attempts are ineffective, your veterinarian may recommend a regimen of behavior modification training techniques to try to desensitize your furry friend to thunder and loud noises. There're a number of wonderful dog trainers in the Dallas/Fort Worth Area; we recommend Wild at Heart Canine Academy.
Related: CBD Oil & Treats for Dogs