Dogs, Storms and Anxiety

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2010-08-01 06:57

For many dogs, thunderstorms are traumatic events. When the large clouds roll in, and even before the first crash of thunder hits, dogs with storm anxiety may panic, running in search of a safe place to hide. Behind a toilet, under a bed, in a closet—dogs with this fear may even bolt out of the house, running in a futile attempt to escape the noise.

Experts are not sure what triggers some dogs to react so excitably to thunderstorms. Some suspect it could be ionization, the drop in the atmospheric pressure, wind, or sudden lightning. Breeds that tend to be more susceptible to storm anxiety include herding breeds, hounds, and working breeds, all of which suppress certain undesirable stimuli. Other dogs that may suffer storm anxiety are rescued dogs, especially those that have had bad experiences prior to adoption. Dogs that display storm anxiety also tend to become more susceptible as they age.

Dogs may display different symptoms of storm anxiety, such as drooling, panting, uncontrollable shivering, pacing, climbing on their owners’ laps, destructive behavior such as tearing up furniture, losing control of their bladder or bowels, jumping over fences, and cramming themselves into tight spaces.

Dogs that have storm anxiety experience chronic stress, which can have a negative impact on their immune system and overall health. Some dogs have even experienced a fatal heart attack.

What can the owners of dogs with storm anxiety do to help their dogs? Here are some suggestions.

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