Storm Anxiety

Updated: Oct 6, 2019

Inclement weather can be very scary for people and pets. Even when they are safe inside with us, our furry friends can be very sensitive to changes in the weather and loud noises such as high winds, thunder, heavy rain, and hail. Some pets may be frightened by the noise, or have become fearful due to an unpleasant experience with bad weather, such as being left outside during a storm. Some pets may even try to escape and flee out of fear if they are not safely secured.

Signs your pet my be experiencing anxiety during storms:

  • Excessive Drooling

  • Panting

  • Trembling

  • Restlessness/ Pacing

  • Hiding

  • Vocalizing - Barking, Whining, or Whimpering

  • Destructive Behavior

  • Tries to Escape or Flee

Some pets may be fearful of storms throughout their entire life, while others develop anxiety during storms later in life. The key to managing storms with an anxious pet is understanding what triggers their stress and knowing the best way to make them feel less anxious. Here are a few things to be mindful of if your pet is fearful of storms.

CHECK THE WEATHER

Texas weather can be unpredictable, but keeping up to date on the latest weather forecasts can help you be more prepared for when a storm rolls in. Be sure to check the weather forecast regularly, especially on days when you might not be home to be with your pet when a storm hits.


KEEP YOUR PET INSIDE

Pets that are stuck outside during storms may develop a negative association and develop anxiety, even if they previously did not have an issue with storms. Bringing your pets inside is not only more likely to make your pet feel safe, but can also eliminate the risk of your pet trying to bolt if they get scared. More severe weather can also result in blown over trees and objects, fence damage, and cause unsecured gates to swing open, so avoid leaving your pet outside when the skies look dark and stormy.

CREATE A SAFE HAVEN

Create a space in your home for your pet to hide out until everything blows over. This safe place may be a crate, a room in the middle of your home with no windows, or any other place in your home that your pet can access at any time, even when no one is home. If your pet’s anxiety manifests as destructive behaviors, make sure your pet is contained somewhere they can’t hurt themselves—or your furniture! Your pet will feel more comfortable if they are able to use this space regularly. We also recommend utilizing things like the television, the radio, or a white noise machine to drown out the sounds of the storm outside. The further away they feel from the storm, the less anxious they will feel!


WRAP THEM UP

Some pets benefit from wearing a ThunderShirt when they are feeling anxious, especially during storms. The ThunderShirt works by applying gentle pressure to your pet, similar to the way infants are swaddled when they sleep. The sensation of being hugged by the ThunderShirt may provide your pet with some anxiety relief. If you are looking to purchase one, please review the measurement guidelines to ensure it is not too tight or too loose for your pet.


KEEP THEIR MIND BUSY

While some pets may be too nervous to engage with toys or play, some pets might welcome the distraction. Giving your pet a dental chew, Kong filled with treats, or a special toy might help take their mind off of what’s going on outside. For safety reasons, we advise using caution when leaving pets with toys, bones, and chews if you are not there to supervise.


AVOID OVER-SOOTHING

Our natural instinct is to comfort and soothe an anxious pet. However, sometimes too much comfort does more harm than good. Treating a pet as though there is something to be anxious about and trying to calm them may actually make them more anxious as this extra attention and unusual behavior may suggest to your pet that there is something to worry about.


DON’T CREATE BAD HABITS

While it might seem helpful in the moment, giving your pet special attention during storms may make their anxiety worse if you are unable to provide that attention every time a storm occurs. Avoid any kind of interactions that are not part of you and your pet’s normal routine. Instead, we recommend that everyone in the home behave normally while giving your pet a safe environment to reside in, as suggested above.

CONSULT YOUR VETERINARIAN

Sometimes, no amount of soft blankets and white noise is enough to keep pets calm during storms. If these other methods of reducing storm anxiety prove to be ineffective, consult with your veterinarian to discuss your pet’s options for storm anxiety medication. There are a number of calming medications that can reduce your pet’s panic during storms that are very safe.


For any additional questions, please give us a call at 972-347-6100 or email us at info@prosperanimalhospital.com.

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