It’s thunderstorm season for dogs! The damage to this door was done during a recent thunderstorm by one of the sweetest dogs I have met. She is one of many dogs who suffer from extreme anxiety during thunderstorms. During a storm she becomes extremely frantic and broke through this door trying to find a spot to hide away. Her owners were upset to think about how distressed she must get and sought help at our clinic.
Thunderstorms can be really frightening for many dogs. They may just hide under a bed and wait it out in a trembling mess (which is bad enough!) but some escape at any costs damaging both property and themselves in the process. Rather than getting used to storms, anxious dogs get worse over time rather than better. These dogs need help and there are several things you can do:
1. Give them some medication to lower their anxiety levels. This is probably the most important step you can take. There are several excellent medications that can be given either daily or before a storm to help your dog feel calmer during the thunderstorm. Sedatives alone are not a good answer- your dog will still be anxious but unable to do anything about it. This simply makes the situation worse from your dog’s point of view. See an animal behaviour veterinarian for the best medication for your pet.
2. Make sure they have access to a safe, secure spot. The kennel is often too exposed to the sounds and flashes of lightning. A garage can be okay for some dogs but also providing a doggy door to inside or under the house is often better.
3. Some dogs become less anxious if they are wrapped in a coat or jacket designed for the purpose. There are several brands around and I have had good feedback from several clients about them. Search online for thunderstorm jackets to check out the range available.
4. Using a halter (we have the Gentle Leader range in stock) can settle some dogs down but make sure you introduce them gradually before using them during a thunderstorm. 5. Under the guidance of an animal behaviour vet it is possible to desensitise your dog to thunderstorms and fireworks. This can be a great thing to do in the long term. Contact me by email on firstname.lastname@example.org, or phone 03 5244 4202 if you want help in doing this.