17 June 2021
Hot, humid conditions in summer months can often lead to the occasional thunderstorm and storm phobia is very common. Calm and loving pets can be transformed by these storms into destructive, nervous wrecks.
A combination of wind, thunder, and lightning, pressure changes and static can all result in a stressed pet. They may show signs of stress or act different to normal – pace around the house, pant, become excessively clingy, hide behind furniture, claw at walls and doors, chew, whine or bark. If your pet is affected by storms there are some things you can do to make that time less stressful and reduce the anxiety.
Replace fear with something positive, play fetch or provide food based games so that they are distracted. Not all pets will eat when nervous but whatever their favourite food may be, it is a good place to start.
When the weather turns, encourage calm behaviour by asking them to sit or lay down beside you – in doing so give them a reward when calm whether it be attention or a tasty treat. Avoid touching when stressed as this can reinforce the nervousness.
Most pets like to hide and find a spot in which they feel safe – allow access to where your pet wants to go within reason, or create a ‘den’ in corners, open crates or under beds. Once they have found a space leave them, it may feel good to reassure them however this can make things worse. Ensure they cannot escape outdoors and may animals will run when in fear.
You can try to desensitise by playing a CD of storm sounds at a quiet level, whilst playing or giving small treats. Gradually increase the sound over a few weeks to see if this can help.