Why are Dogs Scared During Thunderstorms – and What You Can Do

Have you ever wondered, “why are dogs scared during thunderstorms?” and how can I help them?   It’s a very common problem for many dogs and even worse for those suffering from different forms of anxiety during normal times.  We all want to help our pets, so let us first explore why dogs are prone to reacting to the storms and then some possible ways to help. 

What Scares your Dog about Thunderstorms?

Well, doesn’t seem obvious what is scary about thunderstorms?  The same things that scare some of us – the loud thunder, the bright flashes of light, the wind noise, the terrible thoughts about what could happen to our home or possessions.  Well, some of this applies to your dog, but in a more extensive way than you might think!

Scary Reason 1 – The Sound of Wind and Thunder.   Dogs can hear things more than twice as well as humans.  Think about being home alone with a thunderstorm around you and it being twice as loud as you hear it today.  Some dogs even have more sensitive hearing.  Finally, you may find that dogs can hear low-frequency rumbling of thunder before you can, even before the storm arrives. 

Scary Reason 2 – Static Electricity.  During thunderstorms, the air is filled with electrically charged particles and dogs may even feel a slight shock of static electricity.  As storms approach, the dogs can become conditioned to anticipate this, adding to their fear.

It looks pretty scary, imagine it shocking you and being twice as loud?

Scary Reason 3 – The Lights.  Bright-flashing lights are coming from an unknown source.  Combined with thunder these are essentially signs of an unknown threat.  As we know, most of our dogs are protective of us and certainly themselves.  The lights just make the unknown, combined with the noise and electricity, that much more severe.

Scary Reason 4 – Barometric Pressure.  Animals, dogs included can be very sensitive to changes in air pressure.  That’s why animals seem to get frantic before the arrival of the storms, sensing the change in air pressure.  Once again – more unknown and things out of their daily routine.

Scary Reason 5 – The Unknown – All of the dog’s systems are being attacked and they don’t know what is doing it.  The unknown, often perceived as a threat, is fundamental to their fear.

What Can we do to help our dogs during thunderstorms?

There are some very practical ways to help minimize the impact of storms on their senses and adding CBD treats into the mix is considered by many to be extremely effective.

Step 1 – Put your dog in the place they feel safest.  It may be a crate where they really feel safe or maybe an interior small room or corner.  The things that make them feel normal, like their toys, blanket or food bowl can help make them feel safe.  Reduce the elements, create comfort.

A dog hiding under a blanket
This looks safe to me!

Step 2 – Engage the dog with other activities.  A lot of us would get scared if all we did was sit around and listen and watch the storm, thinking the worst.  Do something with your dog such as playing or even watching TV.  They may feel safer with you and the activity will lessen the impact of the outside noise and lights.

Step 3 – A snug garment or vest.  Many veterinarians also recommend trying a snug item around the dog to give them that extra sense of security. 

Step 4 – CBD Treats.  CBD often has a universal calming effect on dogs and cats.  CBD chews and CBD oils are often used to treat pet anxiety and can be particularly helpful during stressful times like traveling or thunderstorms.  There are really 3 types of CBD treats available most commonly.  (1)  Oils (or tinctures as they may be called) that you can put in their food or directly in their mouth.  Some are flavored so dogs consider them a treat and can be used as part of their daily routine.  (2) Dog or Cat Chews come in various sizes and flavors, some with added elements to support joint pain or calming.  (3)  Peanut Butter for those dogs that love to lick it off the roof of their mouth, infused with CBD.

A sample of these products is shown below, or you can search our great product selection from trusted brands for what works best.  Many of the Oils are broken out for small (less than 25 lbs.), medium (25-50lbs.) or large dogs (over 50lbs.).  The number of treats for each size dog are recommended on the package.  These can be used daily as normal treats, not just during storms. As an example, Honest Paws is a pet-dedicated CBD brand with many treats, including the Purity series. Honest Paws Purity Level 1 is in green below, as an example.

Some breeds, particularly herding breeds are even more predisposed to anxiety during storms.  Some dogs may develop storm-phobia over the course of their life as they get older.

We all want to help our dogs (and sometimes ourselves) through the scary elements of thunderstorms.  We hope this helped you understand what your pet may be going through and all these techniques to help them.  Feel free to leave comments with your success stories!

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