What to Do If Your Dog is Scared of Thunder

What to Do If Your Dog is Scared of Thunder

While summer is usually a time of great joy for puppers and humans alike, there is one downside. Thunderstorms tend to arise frequently during these months – while it isn’t much of a problem for us, the rumbling of thunder can be terrifying to our dogs.

After all, loud noises are one of the biggest causes of anxiety in pups. To your pooch, the booming of thunder can seem like a very real threat. It can be the same for other loud noises – fireworks are another big offender.

Unfortunately, we cannot stop storms, fireworks, or many other loud noises from occurring. Still, there’s plenty we can do to help our dogs get through them! Read on to learn how to identify anxiety within your dog, along with a guide to the methods and products that can help reduce their overall stress. 

How to Tell If You Have a Dog Scared of Thunder

The signs and symptoms of noise anxiety can vary significantly from dog to dog. Like humans, pups tend to have their own coping methods when under stress. For example, some like to pace around aimlessly, while others may find a quiet space to hide away in.

However, there are some common signs you can look out for. For example, if you notice some of the following behaviors in your dog during a storm, they’re likely experiencing anxiety.

  • Barking or whining
  • Panting 
  • Trembling
  • Drooling
  • Pacing, seeking attention
  • Hiding 
  • Urinating or defecating

How to Calm a Dog During a Storm

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how you can help reduce the stress and anxiety of a storm. For the best results, try to do the following before the storm’s arrival.

  1. Take your dog to a place where they’ll feel safe. This could be where they sleep or a room that’s isolated from the noise of the storm. If there’s a place your dog always goes to when they’re anxious, this could work too.

    Filling the area with their favorite blankets and toys can help to reassure your dog. You can also place some of your old clothes in there, too – your scent can help comfort your pupper further. Once you’re all set up, you can close any doors or windows and stay with your pooch for the time being.
  2. Play some background noise. This can help to cancel out the sounds of the thunder outside. If there’s a TV in the room, you could use this – otherwise, you could maybe use your phone to play music or white noise.

    Whichever method you use, don’t crank up the volume too loud! We don’t want to fight loud noises with even louder noises. So instead, keep the volume at a level that’s just enough to muffle some of the light thunder.
  3. Perform long and slow strokes across the spine. Many of us will instinctively give our pup some love if they’re showing signs of discomfort, but there is a right and wrong way to pet an anxious pooch. Fast pats and strokes will only add energy, which can make them even more anxious. Instead, place your palm on your dog’s head and make long strokes across their back without stopping. Start with a light amount of pressure. If your dog is comfortable, you can be a little firmer – just take care to not be too forceful!
  4. Use toys to distract or play. If your dog has too much energy, try and redirect it away from the storm. Try and offer one of their toys and see if they’d like to play with you!

    If your dog isn’t engaging, don’t force it. Instead, you can offer them a chew toy or something similar – this can give them something to calmly focus on.
  5. Hide visible effects of the storm. While thunder is the main culprit of storm anxiety, flashes of lightning can also scare your pooch. So it’s a good idea to pull the shades or draw the blinds on any surrounding windows.

What to Do When Your Dog is Scared of Thunder – 3 Helpful Tools

By following the above methods, you should be able to lessen your pup’s anxiety. However, there is still more we can do! If you feel that your pooch needs some extra help, the following tools and products are definitely worth trying.

Try a Dog Thunder Jacket

Also known as an anxiety vest, a dog thunder jacket is a piece of doggie clothing that applies light pressure to the back and sides. This offers a similar effect to the petting method we outlined earlier – gentle, continuous pressure can help your dog feel calm and safe.

We’d also recommend using specially-made dog earmuffs. While these won’t cancel out the sound of thunder, it will muffle it. Combining thunder jackets for dogs with quality ear muffs can have a significant effect.

However, be sure to train your pup to accept these items beforehand. Your dog will find them strange at first – trying to put them on for the first time during a storm will only stress them out further. Don the dog thunder shirt and earmuffs on your pup regularly, offering treats for good behavior. After some time, they should be fully comfortable with both.

Diffuse Calming Scents

While the subject of aromatherapy for dogs still requires plenty of research, certain smells have been shown to have a calming effect on dogs. Lavender and chamomile are two of these special scents. 

There are some sprays specifically for dogs that offer these smells. A couple of sprays around the room should be all you need. Alternatively, you can use an essential oil diffuser. However, this method requires extra care, as the essential oils can be toxic if ingested or diffused in heavy quantities.

You will need to significantly water down the oil and use a passive diffuser only to spread a low amount of the scent. Do not use a diffuser in a small space and keep it out of reach of your dog. It’s also a good idea to only use the diffuser for a short period of time – just enough so that your dog will be able to smell it.

Consider Medication

If your poor pup has particularly severe anxiety when it comes to thunder, and the above methods and tools do little to help, you may need to think about medication. A short-term solution can be found with Benadryl, an over-the-counter antihistamine. It can act as a mild sedative, keeping your pooch calm for the duration of the storm. 

For more severe anxiety, your pup may need a daily dose of vet-approved anxiety medication throughout the storm season. Such medicine may need to be started a month before storm season begins to ensure it has enough time to take full effect. As always, speak to your vet before giving any kind of medication to your dog.

How to Calm Your Dog During A Storm: A Summary!

Storm anxiety can be a prolonged source of stress for your dog throughout the summer months. I’d recommend following our step-by-step guide for mild cases. If your pup needs some extra help, consider some of our recommended tools and products. It’s very important to do what you can – a happier dog is a healthier dog! 

Some dogs experience a reduced appetite or diarrhea due to anxiety. In such cases, we recommend our Tail Waggin’ Turkey or Lip Lickin’ Lamb meals. Not only are they irresistibly tasty, but they’re also filled with human-grade ingredients that are great for a sensitive stomach. So take a look at how you can get the best in doggie nutrition delivered straight to your door!