Is your dog nervous when he hears thunder? Does he panics and prevents you from sleeping when there is a storm outside? There is not doubt about it: your companion has thunderstorm phobia.
Anxiety disorders: disorders worsening with time
The challenge with anxiety disorders is that they tend to worsen as your dog ages. For example, the intensity of your pet’s reaction to storm might increase with time. A dog who used to simply hide under a blanket may start shaking, screaming, urinating or defecating during anxiety attacks. More and more stimuli can also start to trigger your dog: a dog that is initially triggered by the sound of thunder may become anxious just at the sight of rain or when the sky is gray.
Since it is predictable for anxiety symptoms to worsen over time, it is important to work on your pet’s phobia as early as possible.
How to ease your dog’s thunderstorm phobia?
Treating behavioral issues like thunderstorm phobia requires the intervention of an animal health professional. There is no foolproof recipe or magical cure.
Your veterinarian will use his animal behavior, nutrition and pharmacology knowledge to tailor an intervention plan for you and your pet. In clinic, there are several solutions to help your pet have a pleasant summer despite thunderstorms. Your vet might suggest using ThunderShirt, which can have a calming effect once worn by your dog. Medication can also help reduce anxiety in dogs during thunderstorms. Coupling medication and desensitization training can help overcome or diminish thunderstorm phobia in dogs.
For puppies, there are socialization kits designed to prevent phobias associated to certain sounds. This tool will help the dog get used to thunder, car noise, sirens, etc.
Do not hesitate to consult your veterinarian and discuss the possible solutions available to you and your furry friend.