Thunderstorms can cause your dog to become fearful, anxious, aggressive, and sometimes, even physically ill. In severe cases, veterinarians prescribe anti-anxiety medications for dogs who are unable to cope with storms. However, these medications can often lead to side effects including loss of appetite, lethargy, constipation, and excessive thirst. If your dog suffers from storm phobias and you would like to explore natural remedies to quell your pet's anxiety, consider the following natural remedies:
A compression vest is a garment worn like a sweater around a dog's mid section. The difference between a compression vest and a sweater or jacket is that when the vest is worn, it places gentle pressure upon the dog's core, resembling a hug.
This helps provide a feeling a security and calmness and may be useful in preventing storm-related fear. Compression vests are sold in most pet stores and are available in all sizes, from very small to extra large. To augment the effects of a compression vest, stay close to your dog and offer real hugs when he or she gets scared during a thunderstorm.
These garments are not only useful during storms, they can also be used in other situations when canine anxiety manifests itself. For example, certain dogs experience separation anxiety when left alone. A snug-fitting vest will help make the dog feel more secure and may even help induce a restful nap while the family is at work or school.
Even when thunder is not present during a storm, your dog may still may experience anxiety. This is thought to be the result of the electric charge that is in the atmosphere when a storm is approaching, and from lightening on the horizon. Your dog's skin is very sensitive to changes in the barometric pressure and electric charges in the air.
By gently rubbing a fabric softener dryer sheet over your dog's coat, you can help break the static bond that is in the air, which will eliminate the uncomfortable feeling that your pet feels on his or her fur. If your dog suffers from allergies or skin conditions, use a hypoallergenic dryer sheet or talk to your veterinarian to see if dryer sheets are safe to use on your pet.
Music can be very soothing for dogs who get scared during storms and may help them sleep though thunder. However, not all music calms canine anxiety. According to Colorado Public Radio, "a 2012 Colorado State University study published in the Journal of Veterinary Behavior found that dogs in animal shelters slept better after exposure to classical music but shook more -- a sign of agitation -- when heavy metal blasted from nearby speakers."
See if your dog responds in a positive way to classical music on a calm weather day before you subject your pet to music during a storm. While most dogs will respond favorably, others may not enjoy music and may even become more anxious.
If your dog has a storm phobia, consider alternative animal therapy options. If, however, alternative treatment methods fail to minimize your pet's anxiety, talk to your veterinarian about other ways to help keep your dog safe and calm during a thunderstorm.
Click here for more information.