FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Monday was National Pet Day and with thunderstorms in the forecast this week, now is a good time to talk about how to deal with thunderstorm anxiety felt by your pets.
Claire Porter with East State Veterinary Clinic in Fort Wayne says that thunderstorms can amplify any level of anxiety that pets feel. This includes general anxiety and noise phobias. Pets can even sense that storms will happen before they arrive.
Shaking, panting, or pacing are signs of storm anxiety. In more severe cases, pets will look for a way to escape like jumping out of windows or hiding in hard-to-reach places.
Porter says the clinic can diagnose your pet with noise phobia or storm anxiety. Some cases require medication and regular veterinarian visits.
It is important to take steps to mitigate the storm anxiety your pets feel. Porter recommends using a sound machine. White noise and quiet thunderstorm noises can help prepare your pets for an actual thunderstorm. A gradual increase in the volume of the sound machine can help them get used to the sound. Giving them treats when they are staying calm can also help them understand. This process can be more effective when your pets are younger.
Porter suggests to keep an eye on the forecast and help prepare your pets in the hours before it will storm. Medication during that time can help them care less and take the edge off the situation. Having a safe place your pets can access can also be helpful.
Purchasing a thundershirt is also a good option. You wrap the shirt around your pet and it makes them experience a feeling of closeness, allowing them to feel more at ease.
During the storm, it is important to create a good experience and distract them. You can play their favorite game, turn on the TV or radio, or give them treats to keep them calm. It is also important for you to remain calm, as pets will feel their owner’s anxiety. A feedback cycle of anxiety can happen if you also feel scared.
Ultimately, you should ask your veterinarian for help upfront if you feel your pet is experiencing storm anxiety. Do not be afraid to call to receive advice before it gets worse.
Visit our WANE 15 Forecast page for the latest forecast updates so you and your pets can be prepared for the next time it storms.