With over half of UK households now owning pets, it’s more important than ever to ensure that we keep our furry friends safe and as stress free as possible.
It’s not solely the loud noises from thunder that invokes fear in your pet – it is the change in pressure, dark skies and flashing lights, alongside the static energy in the air that is picked up by their fur, that all add to the anxious environment.
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Dogs feel the changes in the atmosphere when the weather drastically changes and if they become distressed it may be that a storm is coming which means the anxiety can set in before the storm even starts.
Some signs to look out for and notice if your furry friend is feeling anxious are panting or hiding, pacing, looking wide-eyed, ears pinned back, and yawning.
Obviously you shouldn’t walk your dog when a storm is imminent, but this means that they may have extra unexpended energy which can turn into more stress and anxiety.
Canine Behaviourist Caroline Spencer, from online pet food experts Bella & Duke’s, has a number of simple tried-and-tested tips to help your pets keep calm during stormy weather.
She explained: “There are many aspects of thunderstorms that shake our pets and it is important that we are by their side to get them through this.
“The goal is to remain calm and unflustered. It’s so important to reiterate how you react and feel during these times has a huge bearing on how your puppy or dog reacts. If you are expecting a negative reaction you will get one.
“Like anything, let’s be positive about anything new or different. Just because a friend’s dog or your last dog never reacted badly to thunderstorms it doesn’t mean all reactions will be the same. Be relaxed and just take it as it comes with no preconceived ideas.”
Here’s her advice.
Calming sprays and chews
Use are a number of natural calming supplements available for dogs that can help with anxiety in general, while giving your dog a chew can keep them occupied and focused on something other than the storm.
Prepare in advance when you can
Desensitise your pet to thunderstorms throughout the year by playing storm sounds, starting off quietly and gradually building up the volume until your pet is more used to it.
Shut your curtains
This helps in two ways. As mentioned before, when it comes to thunderstorms and dogs it isn’t just the loud noises that cause anxiety – the flashes of the lightning can stress out your dog too. Keeping the curtains closed can help to dampen the sound and limit the sudden flashes of light.
Provide a safe haven
Your pet might naturally run to find somewhere to hunker down and hide, ensure your pet has a cosy, safe hideaway to retreat to.
Be a calm presence
As your pet naturally finds its safe space in the house, be there for them, hold them, show them there’s nothing to worry about and use your calm presence to reduce their level of stress.