Keeping Your Dog Safe in a Storm

Your dog has sensitive hearing and may experience distress during a storm or fireworks display.

 

To keep your dog safe during a storm, it’s important to recognise their distress signs and know how you can help them.

 

Signs of dog distress

 

Signs that your dog is feeling distressed by a storm or other loud noise include:

 

  • Shaking
  • Panting
  • Licking lips & yawning
  • Becoming frantic & wanting to cower away
  • Excessive barking
  • Destructive behaviour such as chewing, scratching, or digging

 

Your dog may be suffering from more than just distress and may have a storm or noise phobia. A phobia like this is often accompanied by destructive habits, which will put a strain on your human-animal bond.

 

Symptoms of a noise phobia include:

 

Physiological signs:

 

  • Pupil dilation
  • Increased heart rate
  • Panting
  • Hairs standing up
  • Salivation
  • Trembling
  • Urination and/or defecation

 

Behavioural signs:

 

  • Avoidance/escape
  • Pacing
  • Hiding
  • Destructive behaviours
  • Attention-seeking & vocalising
  • Lack of appetite
  • Behavioural inhibition and freezing

 

Taking a video recording of your dog during a phobic episode will help us make an accurate diagnosis. We’ll be able to determine the severity of the phobia while assessing your pet for other possible issues.

You can book an appointment online

 

Create a safe space for your dog

 

The easiest thing you can do when dealing with dog distress is to create a safe retreat space for them. We recommend setting up a den-like location, indoors and away from windows, with sufficient lighting. Teach your dog to go and relax in their safe space when they aren’t feeling distressed, so they can build a positive emotional connection to the location.

Alternatively, you can purchase body wraps and capes such as the Thundershirt or Storm Defender Cape to calm your dog. 

We also stock Dog Appeasing Pheromone as a collar, diffuser, or spray, which mimics the effect of a canine nursing mother to soothe your dog.

 

Noise desensitising tips

 

You can try to desensitise your dog to noises through low-level exposure. For example, you could play a sound recording of a storm at low volume while giving your pet treats to reinforce that positive association. If your pet becomes distressed, stop the exposure immediately. These sessions should happen several times a day, for less than five minutes each time.

It’s important to stay calm and not punish your pet when they are distressed. Try giving your pet a treat or pat after each loud noise so they associate the frightening noise with something enjoyable.

 

Medical management for distress

 

If a safe space or noise desensitisation doesn’t work, it may be time to try medicinal treatment for your dog’s storm distress. We have medication available to lower your pet’s anxiety levels, either daily or as required.

 

Call us on 4955 6670 to book an appointment.

Meet the Fletcher Vet team

We enjoy a reputation as one of Newcastle’s best vet practices. Dr Paul Robin and his team have been caring for local pets (and their families) since 1998.

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