When Storms and Fireworks Cause Profound Pet Anxiety

pet anxietyIf you ask anyone living outside of Minnesota about our seasons, they may mention the one season we’re famous for – an extremely long winter. All kidding aside, we do have a full four seasons with temperature extremes during both the winter and summer. Instead of bitter cold and snow, however, we tend to face high heat and humidity between Memorial Day and Labor Day.

What does all of this mean for your four-legged friend? For starters, pet anxiety is a real possibility because the shift in weather leads to 30-40 thunderstorms in southern Minnesota alone. Loud noises and changes in air pressure can impact pets more intensely than they impact us.

Such a Display

Thunderstorms have the potential to mesmerize – or terrorize – pets and people alike. The sheer display of power can trigger a sense of awe, but for those with noise sensitivities, storms are a formidable foe. Not only can they be stressful for the animal in your care, but pet anxiety can toss everyone into a real tailspin.

Know the Score

Before a storm’s telltale first rumble, an anxious pet may start to pace, hide, whine, cling to specific people, or even try to bolt. Thundershirts are effective antidotes to stressful situations, as they’re often compared to swaddling a baby. Sure, if a pet doesn’t enjoy wearing vests, sweaters, or any type of clothing, it may be a challenge. However, over time, this drug-free option may be a great solution for pet anxiety.

Shelter From the Storm

Pet anxiety can also be triggered by fireworks, loud music, and the unpredictability of surrounding strangers. It’s not always easy to zero-in on a pet’s behaviors, but you can also try the following to soothe frayed nerves:

  • Desensitize your pet by playing recordings of thunderstorms and rain during the off-season. When a storm does ultimately roll in, he or she may not get as upset.
  • Do not reward negative behaviors triggered by stress (this will only perpetuate them). Instead, model calm behavior and reward your pet when he or she follows suit.
  • If you’re out in a storm, make sure your pet is attached to you via leash. A general rule is to keep your pet close to you during the length of the storm.
  • Establish crate training before the summer. This will allow your pet the option to hunker down during thunderstorms or the Fourth of July, bolstering his or her sense of security. Just make sure your pet is not confined inside the crate or kennel, and replenish any water or treats as needed.
  • Reduce pet anxiety during a storm or fireworks display by placing your pet in a small room with few or no windows. Turn on some white noise, TV, or music to distract and calm your pet.
  • If you pet is willing, try to play with him or her during the storm to create a new positive association. Of course, if your pet is too upset, simply be there and offer snuggles, strokes, and scratches.

Calming Pet Anxiety

It may be in your pet’s best interest to have a medication prescribed for anxiety. There are also other products including herbal therapies that we’re happy to discuss with you prior to the biggest season for thunderstorms, fireworks, crowds, and parties. If we can help ease your pet’s suffering, we encourage you to contact us.