Besides the glorious heat and verdant nature that summer brings, it’s also peak thunderstorm season in Canada. The loud thunder claps, intense rainfall and bursts of lightning caused by these storms are often terrifying to our canine friends.
To reduce the feelings of anxiety and fear that thunderstorms provoke in dogs, your veterinary professionals at Bellamy-Lawrence Animal Hospital have put together the following list of effective tips and tricks. Stay home with your dog When you see a storm rolling into your city’s forecast, make sure that someone is available to stay at home with your dog. The ideal person is someone they love and trust like a family member. If left alone, their anxiety will only escalate and you’ll be coming home to one terrified pup. Create a comforting space During a storm, dogs often will naturally head towards a place where they feel safe, for instance: their crate, the basement or smaller spaces like a bathroom or closet. As the thunder begins to roar, it’s important to allow your dog to have unimpeded access to their preferred area of the house. Once they’re inside, enhance the space by offering them their dog bed and favorite stuffed toy for comfort. To avoid feelings of confinement, never close the door to their chosen room or crate, allowing your dog can come and go as they wish. Keep them distracted Don’t just sit there watching the lightning flash outside! Instead, try to distract your dog from their feelings of fear and anxiety. Firstly, we recommend turning on the television, a white noise machine or even some calming music to help drown out the thunderstorm. Then, try to engage your dog in their preferred game or offer them a beloved toy. However, if they’re still too nervous to play, focus on distracting them with plenty of ear scratches and cuddles. Desensitize them to future storms This final tip is going to sound frankly Pavlovian, but it has worked for many dog owners. To reduce your dog’s anxiety during future storms, we suggest playing thunderstorm sounds at a low volume on sunny days, paired with favourite treats and plenty of pets, so they understand there’s nothing to fear. (Spotify is home to many such nature tracks.) As the days progress, play the tracks at increasingly high volume until your dog is desensitized to the sound of thunder. By the next storm, their reaction to the storm noises should be significantly lessened. If you try the above solutions and your dog’s anxiety isn’t decreasing, contact the experienced vets at Bellamy-Lawrence Animal Hospital. Through our clinic in Scarborough, along with veterinary house calls within the GTA, we offer personalized solutions to help your pet lead a happy, stress-free life—even when it’s thundering outside!