Why are Dogs Fearful of Thunderstorms?
An abnormal fear of thunderstorms is called astraphobia. People with this condition will feel very anxious and may exhibit symptoms such as trembling, sweating, nausea, and crying (among others) during a thunderstorm. A 2007 study by Dennis Coon and John Mitterer found that astraphobia is the third most common phobia within the United States and it can occur at any age. If we can be so afraid of thunderstorms, it stands to reason that our pets aren’t too fond of them either!
Back in 2003, veterinarian Nancy Dreschel researched the effects of thunderstorms on dogs. Ms. Dreschel observed a direct link been thunderstorm activity and elevated cortisol levels in dog saliva. Cortisol is a hormone that’s released during periods of stress, contributing the ‘flight or fight’ reaction. This research also showed that elevated cortisol levels persisted long after the thunderstorm event(s) had ceased. Affected dogs exhibited heightened anxiety and were clearly afraid of thunder and lightning. Some dog even displayed anxious behavior prior to the arrival of a thunderstorm, demonstrating heightened sensitivity to these metrological events.
Thunderstorm anxiety in dogs is relatively common with an estimated 25-30% of dogs affected by this condition. So how can we address this problem as pet owners? Are there fail-safe dog calming aids available?
Possible Solutions That Have Been Tried
When it comes to thunderstorms, it’s not just a matter of altering your behavior to help relieve your dog’s stress levels like you can do in the case of separation anxiety; this is more complex. Dogs, just like children, thrive on routine and predictably. However, by nature, thunderstorm events are unpredictable to some extent.
Often fear-driven anxiety in canines can be averted using desensitization. However, this is difficult because it’s very hard to replicate all the different triggers associated with storms events that cause the anxiety, such as static electricity, changes in barometric pressure, thunder, lightning flashes, and other environmental cues your dog is picking-up on. Also, generally desensitizing processes must occur in every room of the house to help your dog feel more at ease. This can be difficult to replicate in the case of thunderstorm events.
Some canine behavioral specialists recommend creating a “safe room” where your dog can see-out a storm event. A basement is an ideal place, if available. Another option is to outfit a room with sound proofing and quality window coverings to block-out lightning flashes. In any case, a safe room should have available food, water, toys and treats. Playing relaxing music may also help. There are also special storm jacket available that can offer comfort and eliminate static. The earlier you can identify that you dog has a fear of storms, the easier it is to remedy the problem. The longer the problem is left, the more severe the phobia that may develop.
Vets Pride USA DOG CALM Offers Stress Relief and Comfort
While creating a ‘safe room’ and using other dog calming aids may help to modify behavior over time, these solutions don’t offer immediate comfort. No pet owner likes to see their beloved dog scared and stressed. This is why many people are turning to Vets Pride USA DOG CALM.
This natural supplement has a slow release formula based on calming herbal ingredients that are well tolerated and don’t present any harmful side effects. If the weather report is predicting a storm event, simply give your dog the recommended dosage for their weight and by the time the thunder and lightning arrives, your dog should be much more relaxed. This then allows you to put in place other behavioral techniques and dog calming aids that will help to further alleviate distress. Over time, this combined response may help to stop storm phobia, or at the very least, minimize it to a more comfortable level.