Skip to main content

Is Your Dog Afraid of Thunder? 6 Ways to Keep Him Calm

I enjoy writing about issues related to the health and wellness of animals and providing guidance to pet owners on simple home remedies.

Up to 30% of dogs are afraid of thunder

Up to 30% of dogs are afraid of thunder

Why Are Dogs Scared of Thunder?

Dogs are afraid of various loud noises, such as thunder, fireworks, and gunfire. During a thunderstorm, your dog may become very tense and frightened. It's possible that his fear of storms is primarily caused by a noise phobia, or it's just one of several factors that make your dog afraid of thunder.

Vets believe that a full-blown storm phobia is brought on by a combination of barometric pressure changes, static electricity, wind, thunder, lightning, and low-frequency rumbles that occur before a storm.

The static electricity that builds up in a storm is a significant reason why dogs are scared of thunder. They may experience mildly unsettling shocks if static builds up in their fur. Your dog may flee to a garage or basement when a storm is approaching because it perceives these spaces as being grounded.

A dog experiencing anxiety or panic during a thunderstorm is not unusual; they may tremble, quiver, or act erratically, exhibiting signs of being utterly terrified. While it is crucial to keep your dog calm during a thunderstorm, it can sometimes be difficult to know how to do so. These six suggestions should calm your dog during the storm and help make him feel better.

How to Calm a Dog During a Storm

Here are some very effective techniques that you can use to calm your dog during a storm and help to keep him stress-free.

1. Exercise Beforehand

Make sure that your dog has had plenty of exercise leading up to the storm. Taking him for regular brisk walks will help to promote feelings of relaxation and well-being. A good walk beforehand will also make him more tired, giving him a better chance of sleeping through the thunderstorm.

Take your dog out for plenty of exercise before the thunderstorm begins

Take your dog out for plenty of exercise before the thunderstorm begins

2. Use an Anxiety Wrap

An anxiety wrap is a special stress-wrap for animals that gives your dog a feeling of well-being and comfort. It works the same way as wrapping a crying baby in a warm, soft blanket.

ThunderShirt is a natural calming solution for reducing anxiety in dogs without using drugs or painkillers, and is recommended by vets as an effective solution for calming a dog during a storm. It can be purchased at any good pet stores or online.

If you don't have a Thundershirt, you could make your own anxiety wrap at home using a scarf. The scarf should wrap snugly around your dog's body but not be constricting. The slight pressure around the body is intended to deliver a calming effect, like a hug would. It should at least take the nervous edge off in high-stress situations. A homemade anxiety wrap option is worth a try, and it could save your pup from unnecessary discomfort.

3. Create Safety

Make a safe place that your dog can run to. Dogs like to feel that they have a special place they escape to and feel safe. If you know in advance where your dog tends to go, then prepare the spot by lying down his favorite blanket there, together with some of his favorite toys and a bowl of water.

4. Give Reassurance

Your dog will be looking to his owner for guidance and reassurance that everything is going to be OK. It is important, as a pet owner, not to display feelings of panic or anxiety yourself, because your dog will pick up on that. Instead, try to think happy thoughts and distract your dog by petting him and encouraging him to play with his toys as he would normally do.

5. Minimize the Noise

It helps to keep all the windows and doors closed during a storm, to muffle the sound of the thunder as much as possible. Put on some soft music and create a soothing environment, which will in turn help to soothe your dog’s nerves. Keeping the curtains closed will also help to minimize the bright flashes of lightening which can also cause panic or anxiety for your dog.

6. Talk to Your Vet

If your dog is showing excessive fear of thunder and you are concerned that storm phobia might affect his health, then do not hesitate to talk to your vet. Getting a vet’s recommendation can be very reassuring for an owner who might otherwise be uncertain of what action to take. There are many types of medication available to calm your dog’s nerves; however this should be considered a last resort if all other attempts to calm your dog fail.

Talk to your vet about medications if you dog's storm phobia is severe

Talk to your vet about medications if you dog's storm phobia is severe

Trazodone For Dogs

Trazodone is a serotonin antagonist and reuptake inhibitor (SARI) antidepressant that is sometimes an effective treatment for behavioral disorders in dogs. According to VCA Animal Hospitals, trazodone may be particularly beneficial to treat dogs experiencing anxiety or phobias like storm anxiety.

The drug is frequently used as an additional therapy for animals that don't respond well to standard treatments, making it a treatment to consider for your dog if other methods to calm his anxiety during the storm have failed.

Trazodone is referred to as "off-label" when used to treat behavioral disorders in dogs. In veterinary medicine, many medications are frequently prescribed for off-label uses. In these situations, carefully adhere to your veterinarian's instructions and warnings, as they may differ significantly from those on the label.

Scroll to Continue

Conclusion

Thunderstorms, heavy rain and howling winds can all be stressful for our dogs and it can be difficult to know what to do to distract them and keep them calm.

The number one thing to remember when trying to keep your dog calm during a thunderstorm is to be patient, kind, and always in control of the situation. A frightened dog should never be punished for erratic behavior; instead give him as much love and understanding as possible.

By following these few simple tips your dog should feel much calmer during the next thunderstorm. Talk to your vet for additional advice if your dog's anxiety is severe: he may prescribe trazadone off-label to help relieve storm phobia symptoms.

  • Trazodone | VCA Animal Hospital
    Trazodone oral tablets are commonly used off label to treat short-term anxieties or as an adjunctive treatment for behavioral disorders in dogs and cats. Side effects may include sedation, behavior changes, vomiting, and priapism. Patients with heart
  • How to Help Dogs That FearThunder (Storm Phobia)
    WebMD talks to experts about how to help dogs that have storm phobia.
  • ThunderShirt for Dogs - Calming Wrap
    The ThunderShirt is over 80% effective in helping to calm dogs and reduce anxiety in stressful situations, like thunderstorms, fireworks, travel, vet visits and more!

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

© 2011 Louise Fiolek

Comments

Louise Fiolek (author) from Calgary, AB, Canada on March 02, 2012:

Hi cclitgirl, oh your poor puppy! I have never tied Bach's Rescue Remedy, but I understand that it is supposed to help balance a dog's emotional state. It might be worth a try. Please let me know how you get on. If it's good then I would like to include some more info on it here in this hub.

Cynthia Calhoun from Western NC on March 01, 2012:

Cloverleaf - we were having a thunderstorm last night. I was trying to wrap my poor dog in thick blankets but the poor guy shakes like a leaf! Have you ever tried Bach's Rescue Remedy? My pharmacist sister-in-law recommends it, but I haven't tried it. I want to go herbal, though. Any ideas?

Louise Fiolek (author) from Calgary, AB, Canada on February 25, 2012:

Hi Thomas, I thought your comment was just great! I can just imagine your "velcro" shepherd, sticking to you everywhere you went. I bet you miss those guys. Good thing you have Truman to keep you company. And cats? Yes, that's a different story. Best wishes, Louise.

ThoughtSandwiches from Reno, Nevada on February 23, 2012:

Cloverleaf...

This is an awesomely helpful article for our four legged cowards! My current guy, Truman, handles storms pretty well but when I was married we had three dogs.

Whenever a thunderstorm hit...the Shepherd became 'Velcro' dog, the Sheep Dog went under the bed (where his butt didn't fit and stuck out), and the Chow always made a beeline for the bathtub. Needless to say...the cats were in business for themselves...

Great article which I am voting Up and Sharing!

Thomas

Louise Fiolek (author) from Calgary, AB, Canada on February 21, 2012:

Hi Judi Bee, fireworks can be just as unsettling as thunder. I remember when my little collie used to run and hide in the bathtub whenever fireworks went off...you can't help but feel so sorry for them. The thundershirt makes a big difference; I hope it helps to keep your little guy calm. Thanks for the votes :)

Dubuquedogtrainer from Dubuque, Iowa on February 15, 2012:

Thank you, Cloverleaf!

Judi Brown from UK on February 15, 2012:

Thanks for this hub Cloverleaf - I have never heard of a Thundervest before, will be looking into it (my Airedale does not like fireworks).

Voted up, useful etc.

Louise Fiolek (author) from Calgary, AB, Canada on February 15, 2012:

Hi, Dubuquedogtrainer! Thank you for sharing this valuable information about the Anxiety Wrap. I had not heard about it before today, and it does indeed sound like a great alternative to the Thundershirt. I have added into my hub and directed readers to read your comment. Much appreciated!

Dubuquedogtrainer from Dubuque, Iowa on February 13, 2012:

Nicely done hub!

I want to let you know there is even a better pressure wrap on the market called the Anxiety Wrap. It is the original, patented pressure wrap designed by certified professional dog trainer and T-touch practitioner, Susan Sharpe.

The Anxiety Wrap was recently found to be 89% effective in a clinical research study conducted at Tufts University. To date there is no comparable study that has been done with the Thundershirt. Effectiveness ratings of "over 80%" are based on customer surveys.

I first became acquainted with the Anxiety Wrap a couple of years ago when I used it on my own dog. I was quite impressed with the immediate calming effect it had on her. Since that time I have been recommending the Anxiety Wrap to my clients with anxious dogs and I have seen the same consistently effective results.

I generally use the Anxiety Wrap as part of an overall behavior modification plan which may also include Through A Dog's Ear music as well as clicker training.

The patented design of the Anxiety Wrap offers some unique features, including greater coverage, a thinner and more breathable fabric and velcro fasteners on the top rather than the front of the garment, something that is an important consideration for sound-sensitive dogs.

The Anxiety Wrap provides more maintained pressure than any other product currently on the market and also works by targeting acupressure points and applying gentle pressure with rear leg straps that help to release tension in the hindquarters.

Animals Plus LLC also makes a Face Wrap, which is an elastic strap that fits across the dog's muzzle and around its neck. I have used this with quite impressive results in dogs that had anxiety-related barking.

Shasta Matova from USA on November 06, 2011:

My dog gets scared during thunderstorms too. He shakes and pants and drools all over the place. Sometimes he tries to climb under the bed, and winds up with scrapes and scabs, because the bed is too low for him.

Daniel Christian from Los Angeles, CA on November 01, 2011:

Good ideas. My dogs can get a little crazy when the lighting and thunder hit.

Louise Fiolek (author) from Calgary, AB, Canada on October 04, 2011:

Hi Felicity, I hope your pups keep calm the next time you have a thunderstorm, what kind of dogs are they?

Thanks for the votes :-)

felicitylovespari on October 04, 2011:

Very good info. My pups are generally pretty calm, but on the really bad ones they do kind of freak out. This is good info for keeping my sweet dogs calm next time we have a thunderstorm. Up up up. :)

Louise Fiolek (author) from Calgary, AB, Canada on August 23, 2011:

Hello TheEpicJourney, and welcome my new reader!

I have thoroughly enjoyed reading your first two hubs and I can completely understand why Zoe is so calm during thunderstorms. Your positive mental attitude is commendable and rubs off on her. She seems very happy!

Thanks for the follow; I will enjoy following your hubs also.

Cloverleaf.

TheEpicJourney from Fairfield, Ohio on August 23, 2011:

Very good tips! I honestly think your 4th tip about the owner remaining calm and reassuring the dog is the most important. I think our dogs are more in tune with us than we think. I personally LOVE thunderstorms and was really afraid that my dog Zoe would hate them or be scared of them. I especially got worried because she has a pretty big reaction to loud noises like trains, large truck banging etc. But she's about a year old now and through several thunderstorms she has been perfect. I've not been able to see any reaction of any sort. I think this is probably due to how calm and even excited in a good way I am with the storms :). Anyway just wanted to add my 2 cents to a good interesting article.

Louise Fiolek (author) from Calgary, AB, Canada on August 08, 2011:

ajaodegaard, thanks for stopping by!

Louise Fiolek (author) from Calgary, AB, Canada on August 08, 2011:

Hi Eiddwen, how's the weather in Wales? I'm from England originally. Great to meet you.

ajaodegaard on August 08, 2011:

Thanks for the hub!My dog freaks out in thunder storms!

Eiddwen from Wales on August 08, 2011:

A brilliant hub and I now look forward to reading many more by you.

Take care

Eiddwen.

Louise Fiolek (author) from Calgary, AB, Canada on August 07, 2011:

I appreciate all your comments, thank you :-) What great dog owners we have here on HubPages!

Rose Clearfield from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on August 07, 2011:

Great topic for a hub. Thanks for the tips! Very well written.

Becky on August 07, 2011:

I enjoyed your comments about keeping your dog calm. My dog is terrified of thunder and he dives under my desk. He feels safe there as I am sitting there and he lays on my feet. I try to reassure him that he is safe and I am there but I read that if you pity them it will make the situation worse. It will make them feel that there is something to fear. This made sense to me so it is reassurance and not pity that he gets. No "Oh, poor baby, are you scared." He gets "It's all right, I am here and you are fine."

Brenda Barnes from America-Broken But Still Beautiful on August 07, 2011:

That puppy in the photo is SO adorable. My little 10 pound Bichon gets nervous but not terrified. She likes to cuddle with me during storms or fireworks. I really enjoyed this compassionate Hub about how to help our four legged friends. Hyph

Dexter Yarbrough from United States on August 07, 2011:

Hi Cloverleaf! Great information. My dog is only afraid of me - sometimes. She doesn't mind the loud noises!

chenderson00 from South Carolina on August 06, 2011:

Great tips and advice. My doggy gets so nervous during storms. My doggy likes to hoover over me and put her face in my face when it storms like - "Hey you, do something! Make it stop!".

Wealthmadehealthy from Somewhere in the Lone Star State on August 06, 2011:

My dog likes to go to her crate during a thunderstorm. She feels safe in there and I put in her favorite toy. She calms down. Thank you for writing this hub. Great information.

Joyce Haragsim from Southern Nevada on August 06, 2011:

You are such a good person to put all this info on your hub.

Who's the cute doggie above?

Related Articles