How To Ease Your Pets Thunder Anxiety
As a pet owner in the UK, you're probably no stranger to the unpredictable weather that often graces us. One moment, it's sunny, and the next, you're hearing the ominous rumble of thunder in the distance. While some of us might find the sound of thunderstorms soothing, our furry friends often have a completely different reaction. Thunder can be a source of anxiety for many pets. If your pet trembles, hides or exhibits other signs of distress during a thunderstorm, you're not alone.
In this blog, we explore why some pets are scared of thunder and provide you with practical tips on how to ease their anxiety.
Understanding Your Pet's Fear
To help your pet overcome their fear of thunder, it's essential to understand why they react the way they do. Pets, particularly dogs and cats, have more sensitive hearing than humans. They can hear sounds at frequencies we can't, and the loud booms and crackles of thunder can be especially distressing to them. In addition to the noise, thunderstorms often bring changes in air pressure, static electricity, and flashes of lightning, all of which can contribute to their anxiety.
It's important to note that each pet is unique, and their reactions to thunder can vary. Some may merely show signs of restlessness, while others may exhibit more severe anxiety symptoms like shaking, whining, or destructive behaviour. Understanding your pet's specific reactions will help you tailor your approach to ease their anxiety effectively.
Create a Safe Space
One of the most effective ways to help your pet cope with thunder anxiety is to create a safe space where they can retreat during a storm. This space should be a quiet, comfortable, and secure area where your pet can find solace. For dogs, a crate covered with a blanket or a quiet room away from windows can work well. Cats often prefer hiding spots like closets or under beds.
Make the safe space appealing by placing their favourite toys, blankets, or a piece of your clothing with your scent in it. These familiar items can provide comfort during a thunderstorm. Additionally, consider playing calming music or white noise to drown out the thunder sounds.
Desensitise Your Pet
Desensitisation is a process that involves gradually exposing your pet to the sounds of thunder in a controlled and positive way. This method can help reduce their fear over time. You can start by playing recordings of thunder at a very low volume and rewarding your pet with treats and affection for calm behaviour. Gradually increase the volume over several sessions as long as your pet remains relaxed.
There are also specialised audio recordings and apps designed for pet desensitisation. These often include sounds of thunder, rain, and other noises associated with storms. Be patient and consistent in your desensitisation efforts, and always ensure your pet feels safe and secure during the process.
A free recording can be found here. Track 35 is the sound of Thunder.
Use Calming Products
Several products are available to help alleviate pet anxiety during thunderstorms. These include:
Thundershirts: Thundershirts are snug-fitting garments that provide gentle pressure, which can have a calming effect on some pets. They are available for both dogs and cats.
Calming Supplements: Consult your veterinarian about using calming supplements or pheromone diffusers, such as Adaptil for dogs, Feliway for cats, or Pet Remedy which is suitable for all species, to help ease anxiety.
Medications: In severe cases of thunder anxiety, your vet may prescribe anti-anxiety medications. These should only be used under professional guidance.
Always consult your veterinarian before introducing any new products or medications to your pet's routine.
Working with a professional dog trainer or animal behaviourist can be highly beneficial in addressing your pet's thunder anxiety. They can help you develop a customised training plan to desensitise your pet and teach them coping mechanisms. Behavioural training takes time and patience but can provide long-lasting relief from thunder-related anxiety.
Stay Calm and Comforting
Your pet looks to you for guidance and reassurance. During a thunderstorm, try to remain calm and relaxed. Reassure your pet with a soothing tone of voice and comforting pats. Avoid scolding or punishing them for their anxious behaviour, as this can worsen their anxiety.
Remember that overcoming thunder anxiety may take time and persistence. Be patient with your pet, and don't hesitate to seek professional help if their anxiety is severe and persistent.
In conclusion, thunder anxiety is a common issue for many pets in the UK. Understanding the root of your pet's fear and implementing a combination of these strategies can go a long way in helping them feel more at ease during thunderstorms. By creating a safe space, desensitising your pet, using calming products, considering behavioural training, and providing comfort and reassurance, you can help your beloved furry friend weather the storm with less anxiety and more confidence.