Do you have a dog that gets anxious during storms or fireworks? It’s important to help your furry friend feel safe and at ease during these situations. While the tips below may not be effective for dogs with severe anxiety attacks, they can be beneficial for those with mild to moderate noise anxiety. Remember, if your dog’s anxiety is severe, it’s best to contact our team at Katten TrimSalon for immediate assistance.
Understand the Complexity of Storm Anxiety
Storm anxiety can be more complex than pure noise phobias. Dogs may react to various components of a storm, such as thunder, vibrations, heavy rain, changes in the sky, and even the buildup of electrical charges. Treating severe thunderstorm anxieties can be challenging due to the complex nature of the cues associated with storms, but it is possible to manage them.
Early Intervention is Key
Dealing with behavioral problems, including storm anxiety, is most effective when addressed early on. It’s crucial to recognize the subtle signs of distress in your dog and intervene before major destruction and injury occur. Look out for signs such as hiding, pacing, panting, whining, or trembling. By stepping in early, you can prevent the fear and anxiety from worsening with subsequent storms.
Reassure Your Dog
Reassurance plays a vital role in comforting your dog during storms and fireworks. However, it’s essential to find the right balance between reassuring and coddling. Avoid creating a dramatic production that may worsen your pet’s anxiety. Instead, act as a calming presence by speaking in a slow and low tone, offering a gentle pet, and maintaining a normal routine. Remember, your dog takes cues from you, so remaining calm will help them feel more secure.
Let Them Hide or Create a Safe Space
If your dog wants to hide during storms, allow them to do so. If they prefer being in their crate, let them seek refuge inside. Consider creating a dark and cozy space in a closet or a small bathroom. Place their bed, food, water, and favorite toy in the designated area. This will reduce exposure to flashing lights and muffle the vibrations and noise of the storm. You can also cover their crate with a heavy blanket for added comfort. Remember to close the drapes or blinds to minimize the flashing lights. If your dog doesn’t like to hide, leave a light on to distract them from the stormy night.
Compete with the Noise
Sometimes, drowning out the noise can help your dog feel more at ease. Play a loud movie or show that your dog is familiar with. Turn on the radio or use a white noise machine to create a soothing background sound. Some dogs respond well to relaxing music specifically designed for dogs, such as “Through A Dog’s Ear.” Experiment with different sounds and find what works best for your furry friend.
Counterconditioning involves changing your pet’s emotional response to storms through positive associations. This technique is most effective for mild to moderate phobias. Keep your dog engaged with treats, toys, and games during stormy periods. Distract them whenever they begin to show signs of anxiety. Offer treats and positive reinforcement when they stay calm and respond to you rather than focusing on the storm.
Try Body Wraps
Some dogs find comfort in wearing body wraps, which provide firm yet gentle pressure around their upper body. This pressure can help alleviate anxiety in various situations, including storms. Commercial products like Thundershirt and Anxiety wrap are specifically designed for this purpose. Alternatively, you can create your own wrap using a t-shirt, sweatshirt, or Ace Bandage. Ensure that your dog is comfortable wearing the wrap well before a storm occurs.
Help Avoid Electrostatic Buildup
Dogs are sensitive to the static charge buildup before a thunderstorm, which can trigger anxiety. To combat this, you can cover your dog’s crate with double-layered heavy-duty aluminum foil. If your dog tends to hide under the bed, slip a layer of aluminum foil between the box spring and mattress. Alternatively, consider using a commercially available shirt designed to reduce static discharge, such as the Storm Defender Cape.
Explore Natural Therapies
Certain natural therapies can help alleviate your dog’s storm anxiety. It’s essential to consult with your veterinarian before trying any new products. Some options to consider include applying essential oil lavender lightly to the back of your dog’s neck, using products like ProQuiet, trying an Adaptil collar or spray, using Rescue Remedy liquid, or using Harmonease tablets. These therapies may create a calming effect for your dog, but results may vary.
Desensitize Your Dog
Desensitization involves gradually exposing your dog to storm noises while engaging them with positive stimuli. Play recordings of thunderstorm noises at a low volume and reward your dog with treats, toys, and attention. Increase the volume slowly over time and continue to distract them with positive experiences. This method may work wonders for some dogs, even those with severe anxiety.
Medication as a Last Resort
In severe cases or for dogs with routine high anxiety, medication prescribed by a veterinarian may be necessary. Antianxiety medications can help settle your dog’s symptoms during storms. It’s important to find the appropriate medication and dosage, which may require professional guidance. Combining medication with other management techniques mentioned above can provide the most effective solution for your dog’s storm anxiety.
Remember, every dog is unique, and what works for one may not work for another. It’s important to tailor a management plan that suits your pet’s individual needs. If your dog’s storm anxiety continues to worsen, don’t hesitate to seek help from our team at Katten TrimSalon. Schedule an appointment with one of our experts by visiting our website Katten TrimSalon. We’re here to provide the support and care your dog needs during challenging times.