If your dog is anything like mine, she will shake and whimper when there is a thunderstorm approaching. If you're reading this article, you're obviously wondering why are dogs scared of thunder?
It's not as simple as you may think. There are a variety of reasons why your dog may be scared of loud noises, especially thunder.
It could just be the loud sound, or it could be that your dog can sense more in the air than just the impending thunder. Oftentimes, your dog will begin to show signs of fear before you can even see the dark clouds rolling in.
So, why are dogs scared of thunder? Let's go through the reasons that this type of weather may have a negative effect on your pup and what you can do to help ease his stress and anxiety.
Why Are Dogs Scared of Thunder?
1. Thunder makes a loud noise
We all know that a dog's hearing is much better than a human's. This means they are also more sensitive to loud sounds.
This is an obvious answer to the question of why are dogs scared of thunder. If all dogs have more sensitive hearing than humans, then why aren't all dogs scared of thunder?
That is an excellent question! In order to answer it, we need to look deeper into the other reasons that your dog may be scared of thunder.
2. Dogs can feel barometric pressure changes
Believe it or not, your dog can feel barometric pressure changes in the air. Are you wondering exactly what that means? I was, too!
To put it simply, when a storm starts to roll in, the air pressure changes. When the air pressure changes, odors in the air move differently. Thanks to your dog's super sense of smell, he can notice this subtle change.
3. Dog's can sense static electricity that we cannot
Much like the change in barometric pressure, dogs can also sense the presence of static electricity in the air. When thunderstorms creep into your region, the amount of static electricity in the air increases.
When static electricity begins to build up in your dog's fur, it tips him off that a storm is approaching. Because of your dog's heightened senses and sensitive nature, this can make him uneasy.
Pair this with the change in air pressure and the loud noise of thunder, and it's no wonder that your pup gets stressed and anxious during thunderstorms.
What you can do to help your pet during a storm
1. Offer a safe place
One of the most helpful things owners can do for dogs who are frightened by thunderstorms is to provide a safe indoor space for them to ride out the storm.
Some dogs like to be left alone when they are anxious and will look for a place to hide and feel safe. A dog crate, underneath a bed or in the corner of a closet may be the place where your dog feels safe.
Dark, confined areas are often comforting to dogs who are scared. If your dog chooses to stay out in the open, don't force him into a small space. Not all dogs feel safer in confined areas.
2. Comfort your pet
Some dogs may enjoy your comfort when they are feeling scared. Be aware that some dogs, like some people, prefer to be left alone when they are scared or stressed.
If your dog is one that enjoys your comforting, sit with him during the storm. Talk to him in a calm tone, pet him and even hug him if he wants you to. The soft pressure of a hug can be very soothing to your pup.
Offering your pet comfort reassures him that everything is going to be okay. It fosters the bond between the two of you, and it is sure to make you both feel better quickly.
3. Distract your dog
If your dog's fear is mild, you might be able to distract him. Break out a favorite toy or chew, or maybe even keep a few new toys in a closet for just this occasion.
Make sure to entice your pet with something that will really catch his attention. This will ensure that he focusses more on the distraction and less on the storm.
Find stimulating, interactive toys that will keep your dog occupied for long periods of time. If you're providing your dog with a chew to keep him busy, make sure it's a durable chew that will last through the storm.
You do not have to stick to just one toy or treat either, you can rotate and switch between a few different toys or treats that your dog enjoys to help him stay occupied for the duration of the thunderstorm.
4. Anxiety wraps and shirts
Some dogs need constant comfort during storms, and it is obviously not possible for you to provide this all of the time. It's been shown in studies that applying pressure to a dog's body provides him with some relief from anxiety and stress.
Do anxiety vests and shirts can be purchased, or you can use the link above to make your own DIY anxiety wrap for your pet.
These vests/shirts are snug-fitting to provide an anxious dog with comfort by supplying constant pressure while he is wearing it. The constant pressure will help comfort the dog and reduce anxiety.
The shirt or vest can be worn before, during, and even after the storm. They do not interfere with your dog's range of motion or ability to move about freely.
5. White noise machine
If the noise is what seems to be the most bothersome to your pet, try using a white noise machine to drown it out.
It's been proven in studies that dogs enjoy music, and certain sounds help to calm them down. White noise machines work by playing soft noises or sounds that drown out noises other sounds.
You could also try playing specific music for dogs in the background, to help distract your pet and calm him down. This music has ben specifically developed to appeal to the sounds that dogs can hear best and the sounds and pitches that have been proven to be comforting to canines.
Simply turn on the music or sound machine when you know a storm is approaching. Allow it to run for an hour or so after the storm has passed to ensure that your dog can no longer hear thunder in the distance.
If you believe that your dog has a severe fear of thunderstorms, you need to reach out to your veterinarian. Some dogs can get so stressed out that they become aggressive, lose patches of fur or even begin to have trouble breathing. If this is the case with your pet, he may need medication to help with the problem.