Is Your Dog Afraid of Thunder & Lightning?

In an unbelievable instant, my home was hit by lightning a few months ago.  The noise was terrifying.  There was no fire, but it took quite a while after the fire department left to get my 2 little dogs out from under the bed.  I have always heard my friends talk about their canine “thunder chickens” who are terrified of the least bit of thunder – now I have two of my own.


Do you have dogs who are afraid of thunder?  It can be heartbreaking to watch them react.   Even before the first clap of thunder, otherwise well-behaved dogs begin to pace, pant, cling to their owners, hide in the closet, or jam themselves behind the toilet. You can read about really bad cases where they claw through drywall, chew carpets, or break through windows in their escalating panic.


For my two girls, the first choice is the back of my closet, followed closely by jamming themselves in behind the toilet.  There is no talking to them and they will not come to me.  We don’t know what causes the extreme fear, but it could be some combination of thunder, lightning, barometric pressure changes, static electricity, and low-frequency rumbles preceding a storm that humans can't hear. There is a theory I read that dogs experience painful shocks from static buildup before the storm.


What to do? There's no easy fix, and unless your dog is only mildly affected, it can be difficult to treat, vets say. But there are lots of tools to reduce your dog's distress during storm season. 


One solution could be giving your dog a safe place to go like a closet, a basement, or a small room where they can’t hear all of storm noise.  Be sure they aren’t locked in, though, that could make it worse.  Some owners swear by thunder shirts.  Have you tried them?  Do they help?  Then there is anxiety meds from your vet.  In really bad cases, giving the meds when storms are forecasted could be considered.


Join the discussion.  What do you think?