Some dogs can get anxious and frightened in thunderstorms. They can bark, wince, get clingy and have known to walk around nervously panting and have toilet accidents. Some can even cower, shake or hide, and in severe cases, can be destructive to themselves or their surroundings. There is also a potential for dogs to escape their yards during or after a thunderstorm, especially if the dog is new to the home or fencing becomes damaged.
If your dog is frightened of thunderstorms, there are some things you can do.
If they are particularly distressed in a severe storm stay with them in a small room in the house (laundry, hallway) and talk calmly to them. Don't offer food or too much praise and avoid exciting them with games. Try to comfort them , but remember not to baby them too much, as this reinforces the behaviour, and can make it worse next time.
Counteract the noise of thunderstorms by turning up the volume on the radio or television so as to distract your pet from whatever is happening outside.
Close up curtains to stop them from seeing any lightening.
Ensure your dog is safe and cannot hurt themselves trying to escape the noise (keep things they could use to jump off and over fences out of the way, keep garden tools in sheds, check the fences are up to scratch)
Identify your dog with a microchip and identification tag with a phone number on it so they can be returned home if they do escape.
If your pet becomes particularly distressed, we may prescribe a mild sedative to help them get through such times. These are prescription medications, and will require a consultation with you and your pet.
Your pet may need to be "desensitised" to the noise. This can be achieved by playing a tape with noise of thunderstorms on it, in a controlled environment, and 'teaching' your pet to cope with it. We recommend you come and talk to us about this.
If your dog does escape from your property during a thunderstorm, contact the Dubbo Animal Shelter on 02 6882 1934 or your local council's animal control number, as well as the other vet clinics in Dubbo. Facebook is also becoming very useful for lost pets, so check here too!
Dubbo City Council Animal Shelter 6882 1934
Duncan McGinness Veterinary Surgeon 6884 9900 or On Call 0418 638 380
Dubbo City Council all hours 6801 4000