This is what I did. Turned on classical music, had her get in bed with me. Petted her, and talked soothing to her, told her she was alright etc. She hid her head under the blankets. When a load thunder boomer came she turned inside out and this large dog, thought she was a cat and landed on my chest trying to get closer to me to save her. When the storm passed I wondered if there was anything else I should of done to help her ease through the thunderstorm.
This is what I found.There are links to the original posts following these ideas.
Know How to Calm Your PetFirst, find a comfortable place — a ridiculously plush dog bed, a rug, a crate or space under a bed, even in the bathtub — that the pet thinks of as a safe haven. Offer a few reassuring words. You might want to remind your pet that a cherished toy is still here, just waiting to be played with.
But don’t overly cuddle or appear yourself to be anxious — your scaredy dog will pick up on that and will remain fearful. In fact, a couple of veterinarians told me you should not say anything while the storm passes, or even look the dog in the eyes, to avoid giving “cues” that something is wrong.
Other methods that may help:
- Music can soothe phobic pets. Play the music as needed, not continuously; otherwise your pet can become desensitized.
- Melatonin, an over-the-counter hormone, has been shown to calm some pups. They remain alert, not sleepy, but thunder just doesn’t bother them any more. Melatonin varies by manufacturer, so you’ll want to talk to your vet about what brand and dosage to give. Other holistic remedies are available.
Fear BustersLeft untreated, storm phobias can have disastrous consequences. An owner may decide to relinquish the pet or have him euthanized, while a scared dog could turn up lost at an animal shelter after bolting during a storm. Moreover, chronic stress can impair a pet’s immune system and overall health; in the worst-case scenario, the animal may even suffer a fatal heart attack.
Through a combination of the following steps, the condition is treatable, though a complete reversal isn’t always possible, says board-certified veterinary behaviorist Lisa Radosta. “Most owners don’t go for the ‘Holy Grail,’ which takes diligent work with the dog—maybe up to a year or more in advanced cases,” she says. “... But they can get the dog to the point where their quality of life is greatly improved and they are not frantic with panic.”
• Build a storm bunker: Find a dark, quiet, and easily accessible place such as a basement, closet, or bathroom, and teach your pet to relax in this “safe area” during normal weather. Fill it with pillows, favorite playthings, and toys stuffed with treats. You can also place a kennel in the room with the door open. As a storm approaches, coax the pet to enter the refuge, then use a fan, television, or radio to drown out noise.
• Desensitize: Before storm season hits, play a CD of storm sounds once a day, at a volume low enough that your pet responds but isn’t anxious. Increase the volume each day, coupling it with commands and rewards, playtime, or treats. When storms are expected, start the fun before your pet shows signs of anxiety.
• Seek help from the pharmacy: For severe phobias, vet-prescribed medications coupled with behavior modification can help. Medications such as Clomicalm and Reconcile are administered throughout the storm season, while fast-acting Valium and Xanax are for individual events. Over time, medications may be needed less frequently or not at all.
• Create a natural calm: Synthetic products that mimic cat and dog pheromones can alleviate anxiety. (If you have pet birds, consult your veterinarian before using an aerosol.) A homeopathic vet may also prescribe other calming products. Sound therapy is another option: In 2008, psychoacoustics and animal behavior experts produced Through a Dog’s Ear: Music to Calm Your Canine Companion. This CD of piano arrangements stemmed from a study that found certain sounds to have a calming effect on dogs.
• Snuggle up: Made of soft cloth, the Storm Defender cape has a metallic lining to shield pooches from static charge buildup. It drapes over the dog’s back, with straps that tie around the neck and chest for a semi-snug fit. Although a study published in 2009 found the product worked only marginally better than a placebo cape, Radosta sometimes tells her clients to give it a try. Another product, the Anxiety Wrap, is made of a fitted, lightweight fabric and designed to provide calming pressure. A study on its effectiveness is currently being conducted. Finally, Mutt Muffs may help reduce anxiety by muffling storm sounds.