Ah, summertime. A season filled with sunshine, swimming, and seasonal storms. To some of us, there’s nothing more comforting than hearing the sound of thunder and rain rolling in. To others – maybe even your dog – there can be nothing scarier.
While thunderstorms don’t make every dog anxious, they can certainly rattle the nerves of a few. So why are some dogs more bothered than others, and how can you help your pup overcome their fear if they’re one of the unlucky ones affected by thunderstorms? To learn how, you first need to understand the science of why storms bother dogs. Read on as we break it all down for you.
Why Do Some Dogs Hate Thunderstorms?
Think about it: if a loud clap of thunder happened out of nowhere, you’d be a bit jumpy, right? Thankfully, as humans, we have a bit of a warning before a storm rolls in so we can prepare ourselves – from the news and weather apps on our phones, to visually watching the clouds roll in. Dogs, on the other hand, don’t have that added context. So when a loud clap of thunder comes out of nowhere, it can be terrifying.
However, sound only plays a small part in your dog’s overall fear. The main reason they run for shelter when a storm is coming is because they can actually feel it.
Aside from sensing a darkness in the sky and even hearing the storm in the distance, when a thunderstorm is brewing, the barometric pressure—which dogs can sense—drops. When the pressure drops, static electricity is more common, which has led scientists to discover that the real anxiety and uncomfortable feeling a dog has during a storm is due to the feeling of static electricity tingling through their fur.
In fact, when a storm occurs, dogs can actually feel shocks from static electricity, leading them to run around the house looking for places to hide and seek comfort. And while there’s no real scientific evidence proving why some dogs are more bothered by storms than others, if your dog has more fur, they’re likely to be more bothered by storms since the probability of being shocked by static electricity is greater.
How to Ease Your Dog’s Anxiety During the Next Storm
Nothing can break a pet owner’s heart more than seeing their dog in distress. To help your pup weather the storm, the best place to start is to keep them away from any metal surfaces, carpeting, and other areas that can cause shocks. This will mitigate the uncomfortable shocks they get on their skin.
Next, feed into their natural instinct to seek grounded areas. This includes basements, bathtubs, and other enclosed spaces. In these spaces, static electricity is less likely to form or shock your pup, and tight spaces can add a sense of comfort.
Additionally, you can try rubbing a dryer sheet on your dog’s fur, which is proven to help minimize static. Just be sure it’s unscented, and don’t make rubbing a dryer sheet on your pups fur a daily habit, since it can irritate their skin.
If hiding out in the bathtub or basement doesn’t seem to ease your dog’s nerves, you can consider trying a dose of calming CBD oil or even melatonin to calm them. Just keep in mind that these remedies can take thirty minutes to an hour to kick in, so you’ll want to administer them at the first indication of a storm.
While you can’t keep storms away this summer, you can help mitigate its unpleasant effects by helping your pup seek shelter and stay comfortable during the storm. And be sure to give them a big hug and treat once it passes – they’ll deserve it!