It's a Scary time when
your Dog becomes
afraid of Storms
What to do when your Dog is Afraid of Noises & Storms
When a dog becomes afraid or frightened of a particular noise like
thunderstorms, airplanes or trains the situation can be
frustrating to the owner and terrifying to the dog. This
type of noise fear can also be seen in cats, but not as
frequently. This phobia triggers an irrational fear response
and can be caused by any type of noise, even the vacuum
When it comes to your dog's irrational fear of storms the
fear can be triggered by a change in barometric pressure,
electrostatic disturbance, lightning, thunder or even the
smell of ozone associated with a storm.
Some dogs are naturally more susceptible to developing a
noise phobia. These breeds can include sporting breeds and
working dog breeds like Basset Hounds,
Shepherds and Collies. Dogs of any breed that have already
developed separation anxiety have a higher chance of also
becoming afraid of storms.
Noise phobia is more often than not triggered by a bad
experience with noise when the dog was young. Unfortunately,
it is hard to determine when, where and why it the
experience happened, even if you have owned the dog since
birth. But in most cases the fear of storms becomes worse
over time with each instance in which the dog is exposed to
a storm. A dog that is afraid of storms may then also become
afraid of rain and gunshots; essentially anything that
sounds similar to a storm.
Any anger expressed toward the dog while it is going through
this fear and/or if you exhibit the same fear of storms that
your dog exhibits will exacerbate the problem. For example,
if you are terrified or nervous during a storm then
naturally your fear will transfer to the dog. This confirms
to the dog that there is something to be afraid of since you
are the pack leader. If you are calm then the same will
transfer to your dog. Do not praise or comfort your dog
while it is acting afraid, it will just reinforce the bad
Here are some signs of a noise phobia. Keep in mind that
dogs react differently to fear, so all, some or none of
these symptoms may be present if your dog has a noise
Hiding (most common sign in cats)
Not listening to commands
Barking or whining
Climbing in its owner's lap
Expressing anal glands
Trembling or shaking
Trying to escape (digging at the floor, jumping through
windows or trying to go through walls, running away)
If your dog exhibits these symptoms then taking your dog to
a veterinarian experienced with animal behavioral problems
may be able to help your dog and you. That way a plan to
help your dog can be devised and treatment can be started.
Does Fido get all anxious, uptight and Afraid of Storms?
Your dog may be sensitive to storms or it may be afraid of
storms. These two are different and show different symptoms.
If your dog is sensitive to storms it may turn circles, act
agitated and try to come and be near you before or during a
If your dog is afraid of storms this is very different and
can cause harm to both your pet and your property. Fear of
storms can trigger panic responses that are bad for your
dog. Panic manifests with symptoms that include:
- Chest pain or discomfort
- Chills or hot flushes
- Choking sensations or lump in throat
- Dizziness or unsteadiness
- Loss of sensation in extremities
- Nausea, bloating, indigestion or abdominal discomfort
- Pale gums
- Rapid heartbeat, pounding heart or palpitations
- Smothering or shortness of breath
- Urination and/or defecation
Or your dog may be displaying a nervous disorder or nervous
anxiety to storms. This can be triggered by the sight, sound
or smell of an approaching storm. Dogs are far more
sensitive than humans and can even detect changes in
barometric pressure that indicates a storm is coming.
If your dog is sensitive to storms but displays no
nervousness or panic this is good. The dog can tell you when
a storm is approaching and this has saved many people's
lives as a result.
When your dog displays panic or nervousness this is more
destructive to your dog's health and needs to be managed.
You can do desensitization techniques that will introduce
the element that is causing the panic in a controlled manner
and get your dog used to the sight, sound or smell that is
triggering the panic. This will need to be done consistently
and often to help your dog get over storm fear.
If desensitization doesn't work then you can go to a
veterinarian who is experienced with nervous disorders and
get medication for your dog to treat the nervousness.
Usually these are medications that are given daily or just
before a storm depending upon the condition your dog has.
Many dogs don't like storms. This is normal, but if your dog
has frequent panic attacks this can lead to cardiac arrest
or shock that can be potentially fatal. Nervous disorders
and panic attacks need to be controlled for the sake of your
If your Dog gets Stressed Out .....
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barking, hiding, poor appetite, and even aggression toward
another animal or you.
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