Thunderstorms are a very common source of fear and anxiety in pets, especially canines. Changes in barometric pressure, lightning, electrostatic disturbances, and even smells associated with the storms can result in a fearful, pacing, panting, vocalizing, shaking, possibly destructive pet.
Living in an area frequented by thunderstorms, we understand the premium placed on relieving your pet’s anxiety as well as restoring a sense of calm to you and your household. Just as pets react to storms in a vast variety of ways, there are numerous options for thunderstorm anxiety relief. As no training technique or product will work for every pet and pet parent, we hope the following information will help you make an educated choice for you and your pet.
The effectiveness of treatment depends on a number of factors including the severity of the phobia; how long the pet has had it; whether it is ongoing, seasonal, or unpredictable; and the amount of time the owner is willing to commit to the behavior modification techniques. The first thing to remember is to refrain from giving excessive attention or punishment for fearful behavior. Constant petting or consoling may be interpreted by the pet as a reward for the fearful response. In the event of over-comforting a dog during a storm, for example, it may signal to the pet the storm is something to be afraid of. Similarly, the pet should not be punished for showing fear as this will increase the pet’s anxiety. Instead, project confidence and give your dog attention in the form of playing, grooming, or other activities your pet enjoys. Effective treatment for thunderstorm/noise phobia often involves three facets: medications, changing the environment, and behavior modification.
Products We Recommend (available through Riversong, unless otherwise noted):
Homeopet Storm Stress – An easy-to-give Homeopathic remedy for mild symptoms. This product can be given prior to an expected storm, re-dosed as needed, and will not interact with other medications. Cost $30 for 15mL.
Thundershirt – Available at Pure Pets in Brevard, this garment can be worn throughout thunderstorm season and over 80% of dogs showed a significant improvement. The Thundershirt is a non-pharmaceutical option for mild to severe symptoms and works by applying gentle pressure which has a calming effect on the nervous system. Cost approximately $40
Nutricalm Supplement – A blend of western herbs for calming nerves, this safe and effective supplement is best for mild to moderate symptoms. This product is available in both capsule and liquid form. Cost $30/120mL or $32.50/50 capsules
Pheromone Products – These products contain a hormone type substance that has a calming effect in stressful situations. The efficacies of these products have shown 60-80% in reduction of most signs. These are available in several different forms (collars, diffusers and spray) and range in price form $32 – 48. Each product lasts approximately 4 weeks.
For more severe cases, there are a number of medications we can prescribe for your pet. Of course, in the pet’s best interest, we focus on limiting medications to only that which is necessary to yield relief.