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Getting your dog through thunderstorms

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With the thunder and lightning seeming to be nearly a daily occurence this week, here are some tips on helping your dog weather the storms.

Dogs’ fear of thunder can be a result of different factors. Some dogs may be genetically disposed to the problem, while others may have learned to be afraid of storms. Some may react mildly to them, some severely. Some — as with my dog Ace and fireworks — don’t develop the fear until they are 4 or 5 years old. As a result there’s no one-size-fits-all treatment, but here’s a look at some of them  remedies being touted on the marketplace.

For starters, good old fashion cotton stuffed in the ears helps some, but make sure you don’t stuff it in so tightly and deeply it becomes stuck.

Some veterinarians suggest trying to desensitize the dog to thunder by playing a tape or CD with storm sounds, turning it on for a few seconds at a time, then increasing the increments, until the dog becomes conditioned to it.

Many theorize that it’s the static electricity and changes in barometric pressure that disturbs some dogs, which explains why they might get upset before the storm actually starts, or why they might head for the bathtub.

The “Storm Defender” — one of the solutions featured in the video above — is a product that claims to keep your dog from becoming anxious and destructive during a storm by putting him in a cape made of metallic fabric. It’s makers say it disperses the static electricity that builds up before a storm and may make a dog feel unsettled.

Other versions of canine ”thunderwear” are available, ranging from earmuffs and head halters to swaddling attire that can help calm stressed-out dogs.

Other remedies include medication, such as anti-anxiety drugs — the canine versions of Xanax of Prozac — that are becoming increasingly prescribed by veterinarians. Some suggest the herbal form of Valium, valerian, or dog appeasing pheromones.

Beyond that, the advice is much the same as it is for the Fourth of July – turn on the television, stay home, play music, let the dog stay close, but don’t coddle , and above all, don’t scold.

For even more tips and background, check out this Associated Press story.

Comments

Comment from nancy
Time August 13, 2009 at 8:32 am

Try wiping the dog down with a dryer fabric sheet. It helps
dispurse the static electricity in the fur and seems to help.
Can’t hurt and it’s not prozac.

Comment from Alison
Time August 14, 2009 at 9:52 pm

I was wondering where the product would be available for purchase.

Comment from jwoestendiek
Time August 14, 2009 at 11:07 pm

Alison, If you click on the link, it will take you to the website for Storm Defender, where it is available for purchase.

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