Dog Storm Anxiety and How to Calm Your Pet During a Thunderstorm

Dr. Ben Clemmett explains symptoms that are related to storm anxiety and how to alleviate them.

If your dog has storm anxiety calming your dog during a thunderstorm or can be very challenging, especially when these fears become associated with other activities or events happening during the storm. Over time, even a simple rain shower can trigger the same fear stimulus, causing them to have the same anxious reaction as they experience with thunder.

The Symptoms of Storm Anxiety

Symptoms of storm anxiety or noise phobias include pacing, cowering, shaking, hiding, and wanting to be close to another animal or person. Fortunately, there are great prescriptions, supplements and products (like the Thundershirt) that your veterinarian can prescribe or recommend to help calm your pet and prevent these anxieties.

Use Sileo If You Have It

One of my own dogs has a thunderstorm anxiety phobia and I always keep a supply of a Sileo on hand. Sileo is a prescription product and is one of several drugs that work well to reduce thunderstorm anxiety in pets. It makes a huge difference for her.

What You Can Do At Home

  • Try a supplement. Many supplements are available online and at pet stores that don’t require a prescription. As per most behavioral issues, each individual pet responds differently to different supplements and medications, so one pet may have a great response to a product and the next pet may not be helped much at all. Prescription medications tend to work better than supplements in most cases, but supplements alone can help many pets. Zylkene is a supplement that contains casein, a hydrolyzed milk protein which can help keep pets calm.
  • Try a pheromone. Available as a mist, spray or a special collar, may be calming to your pet. Consider Adaptil collars and diffusers for dogs, or Feliway diffusers, sprays, and wipes for cats.
  • Tuck them into a Thundershirt. These work by applying gentle pressure to the pet, in much the same way you might swaddle a baby. This product can work very well for dogs and cats that respond to it, but it can be hit or miss in my experience. The company claims an 80 percent success rate.
  • Try some Melatonin or Benadryl. If you are in a pinch, these can potentially help if you have no other options available. Benadryl is dosed at 1mg/pound and Melatonin is dosed at 1mg/20 pounds. For both products make sure they do NOT contain xylitol. These doses can be used for cats and dogs.
  • To CBD or not to CBD? These may help but there is a lack of data at this point as to whether it is safe with other medications and to how well it works. More on CBD oil in an upcoming article.
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