Storms are a common concern for many pets. They may have had a bad experience or some people even describe learnt behaviour from other nervous pets. Every dog is different and what may work on one pet, may not assist another. Sometimes a combination of tools is required to overcome a phobia. It may be as simple as bringing your pet inside when suspecting a storm and turning on the television as a distraction. It may be offering a hiding place such as an open closet or under a desk. Negative punishment is never a good idea. Your pet is already in a nervous state and punishment will make the situation worse.
Other therapy options include desensitization (a CD of storm noises played very low and increased over time to encourage tolerance), an anxiety wrap or thunder shirt (the feeling of “swaddling” may be beneficial) or pheromone products such as Adaptil (collars and diffusers are available). Consulting a reputable behaviourist is also always a good idea.
If phobias are severe enough, medications are available to reduce anxiety. Clomicalm is an example. A veterinarian needs to examine an animal and will prescribe this scheduled medication if necessary. This will need to be started a month in advance of storm season to allow the medication time to take effect. Other short-term sedatives are available but this is not always a solution. We do advise spending time to reverse the negative behaviours instead of relying on chemical assistance. However, if your pet is likely to hurt themselves due to the fear, rather utilise the necessary medication.
Storms don’t have to be scary. Please call The Veterinary House on 033 342 4698 if you require any assistance.