Some of the thunderstorms that we have been getting have been waking up the entire family at night, so it comes as no surprise that our canine (and sometimes feline) friends don’t appreciate being woken up in the middle of the night either. And although the two legged members of the family are excited for the Fourth of July, our furry friends are not as excited….actually they are scared out their beds….and into ours!
Anxiety in dogs is just as prevalent as it is in people. The loud cracks of thunder and bolts of lightning can scare any of us back under the covers. Image if you truly had no idea why it was happening…. that could cause a true panic response. And that is what happens to many of our canine friends. After a few sleepless nights of listening to your pet pant, pace, cry, and cower you may ask yourself….WHAT CAN I DO!!!!!
As always an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Because phobias and anxieties usually get worse with age and exposure it is much easier to intervene before or right away when the phobias begin.
Be relaxed and happy during storms. Dogs are very emotionally attached to us and often feed off of our emotions, so if thunderstorms don’t seem to bother you, your pet will remain confident as well.
Don’t reward fearful behavior. Petting and coddling anxious behavior is positively rewarding them. Give rewards when your pet is confident, calm and happy.
If Your Dog is Having Anxiety:
Create a quiet, dark area of security for your dog. Areas such as basements, bathrooms, closets and crates can create security for your pet. Confined areas can also be a good way to prevent damage to your pet, and to your house!
Thundershirts can help decrease anxiety by using constant pressure around the body creating a calming effect. This is best used in mild to moderate anxiety in conjunction with behavior modification.
Sometimes anxiety can be so bad during storms that your pet may benefit from anti-anxiety medication. These can be used as needed during storms, or the Fourth of July. It is important that these medications are used as a trial run before they are actually needed to test your pet’s response. (So if you think your pet would benefit from this contact your veterinarian today!)
Don’t ignore thunderstorm or firework phobias. If not handled correctly the anxiety can progress into a full panic attack in which your pet can injure themselves…or your property. Use the tips above, and consult your veterinarian for your pet’s specific needs!