Thanks to Science Daily for this article.
Help for Thunder-Phobic Dogs
Veterinarians Show Consoling Dogs Does Not Relieve Their Panic
June 1, 2006 A new study shows that dogs can get very upset during thunderstorms, whether or not their owner holds them. The study measured the stress hormone cortisol to be up to three times normal levels while the dogs heard recordings of a thunderstorm. The company of other dogs did help, though vets say medications may be more effective.
PHILADELPHIA–Do thunderstorms make your dog tremble with fear with every rumble? Thunderstorm anxiety is common among dogs, sending frightened pooches shuddering under beds or even tearing up furniture. What’s really behind this pet panic?
All it takes is one rumble from a thunderstorm and Patty Nordstrom’s dog, Iko, is a nervous wreck.
“Iko starts shaking and panting and pacing and is very nervous and upset,” Nordstrom says. Many sympathetic owners like her try comforting pooches with thunderstorm anxiety. Now, a new study shows consoling your pet may not help.
“One thing that the study showed was their dogs got really upset whether they held them, whether they left them alone,” says Nancy Dreschel, a veterinarian at Pennsylvania State University in Philadelphia, tells DBIS.
During the study, veterinarians sampled the dogs’ saliva from a chewed cotton rope after they listened to a thunderstorm recording. Vets then measured the stress hormone cortisol and found its levels increased an average of 200 percent during a storm!
Dr. Dreschel says, “Physiologically, they’re definitely responding — their body’s responding — to this stress.”
So how do you help Fido cope? Researchers say having other dogs around may help lower stress levels. “In dogs that lived in households with other dogs, their response was not as high and seemed to come back to normal more quickly,” Dr. Dreschel says. But don’t run out and get another dog just yet. She says talk to your vet first.