Is Your Dog Scared Of Thunder?

 |  Aug 13th 2009  |   16 Contributions


It's summer and thunderstorms are a common occurrence, some dogs aren't bothered and yet others are terrified. So, when I came across an articlewith some tipsto help ease a dog's anxiety I thought it would make a great post.

Here's the scoop from Today at msnbc.com.

Dog owners who spend many a stormy night struggling to get some sleep while a panting, drooling, trembling pet climbs around on top of them know that the fear of thunder can be a tricky problem to solve.

Dogs with the condition often look to their owners for comfort, yet are in such a state of panic, they are inconsolable. And it can be hard to know how to soothe an upset dog without unwittingly reinforcing its anxiety.

Potential remedies include medication, desensitizing the dog to thunder and training it to retreat to a safe place when a storm hits.

But there seems to be no single cause for the fear of thunder, and there also isn't any one guaranteed treatment, veterinarians who specialize in canine behavior say. Something that helps one dog might not help another; a method that works during one storm may not in another.

Dodman suggests finding a safe place for the dog and training it to go there during storms, "almost like a bunker in a nuclear war." It could be a spot in the basement with the curtains drawn and lights on to mask lightning, a kennel with an open door and a comfortable dog bed in it, or a makeshift den in a closet with no windows.
The owner should initially stay with the dog and offer treats and training to reinforce the idea that it's a pleasant, safe place, Dodman said.

Swaddling a dog can also help, calming it like a baby wrapped in a blanket. It can be as simple as wrapping the dog in a light blanket or towel. For a snugger fit, an animal leotard called a sheep suit - typically used on show animals to keep the coat tidy before competition - is an inexpensive option. Shull and Fox recommended an item called an Anxiety Wrap that comes in standard and custom-made versions.

Other things to try include anti-anxiety medications, either alone or in combination. It's becoming increasingly common for veterinarians to prescribe the generic version of drugs such as Xanax or Prozac for anxious dogs.

The natural herb valerian - the herbal form of Valium - can also be effective, Fox said.

"The trouble is that it takes a good 20 minutes before it has effect, so you're going to be doping your animal before the big storm comes," Fox added.

Tolearn more aboutthunderphobia andread other ways to help calm your dog go to TODAY Pets & Animals.

* Kylie looking spiffy in her rain gear.

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