Celebrity vet Dr Scott Miller has revealed why dogs are scared of thunderstorms - and how to help them when one is forecast.
During a storm, if your pet finds themselves panting, drooling, shaking, yawning or pacing around, whining and barking, they are likely fearful of the thunder.
Dr Scott, known for being ITV’s This Morning in-house vet, is the spokesperson for vetcare app Dogtastic , and has suggested a few ways to help settle a scared pet.
The 45-year-old said: “Dogs have an acute sense of hearing, which is around 10 times as sensitive as humans, and also hear at higher frequencies than humans do. This means that they are very sensitive to all sudden noises, and there is no sudden noise quite as ferocious as a thunderstorm.
“Although static can play a role in their distress, it is mainly noise phobia tweaked by the loud bangs that can leave them a quivering wreck.”
Here are Dr Scott’s six top tips to soothe a stressed dog in a thunderstorm:
“If you know a thunderstorm is forecast, make sure you get well ahead of it by taking your dog for a long walk,” said Scott.
This way they should be ‘calm and sleepy’ when returning home and before the storm hits.
While the thunderstorm is occurring, actively play with your dog, to distract them.
The vet explained that “using toys and treats to divert their attention from the storm brewing outside” will help with their anxiety.
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Who doesn’t love building a pillow fort? In fact, something very similar can help your dog feel safer when the storm is raging outside.
Scott advised: “Find a central part of the house where they can feel safe and secure, allowing sound to be muffled and darkness to calm their jangling nerves. Pull the curtains of external windows to help block out the flashes and dull down the bangs.”
“Avoid giving too much attention to your dog when nervous,” the Aussie-born vet said. “Sometimes this unwittingly reinforces that they have something to be nervous about.”
He added: ”Being present is important but use soothing tones when they are being calm and relaxed to encourage a chilled environment.”
Get the radio out or turn the TV up to help muffle the sound of the storm, Scott particularly recommends something with strong bass.
He said: “Playing music with a good beat, like dance music, can help to muffle the bangs, and can even foster a happy atmosphere…feel free to dance to keep your dog amused and their focus on you.”
Try a Thundershirt
“This tight-fitting shirt is like receiving a constant big hug and is great to use if you think a storm might be forecast when you aren’t at home,” said Scott.
Thundershirt say their product works like ‘ swaddling an infant ’.
They said: “Thundershirt applies a gentle, constant pressure to your dog or cat’s torso. Research on both humans and animals suggests that this type of pressure can release a calming hormone like oxytocin or endorphins (there is a reason we love hugs!). This calming pressure is helpful for over 80% of pets.”