Beauty comes with a price. Your Labrador may love the spring. It is a season filled with flowers and plants, a season meant for lots of romping and playing. Unfortunately, spring comes with something terrifying: spring storms.
Here’s how to help your dog with storm anxiety.
Let’s face it. Many dogs are scared of thunder. Scared dogs show signs of distress – they hide under tables, and shiver in fear at the sound of booming thunder.
Remember that your dog’s hearing is far, far more acute than yours – if it sounds like a big boom to you, your dog’s hearing one about five times louder.
According to the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior, storm anxiety symptoms include panting, drooling, pacing, hiding, whining, trembling, and following people closely. It is a very common problem in dogs that’s estimated to affect between 15 to 30 percent of all dogs.
Related: Top 10 Common Dog Fears And Phobias
“If your pet starts exhibiting signs of storm anxiety, it’s important not to become stressed or change your behavior in a way that may upset your pet further,” said Dr. Jeff Dennis, medical director of Blue Pearl Veterinary Partners. “It’s also important not to overly coddle your pet to the point where you are reinforcing or rewarding the behavior.”
Dennis also says that if your pet suffers from storm anxiety, there are different strategies to try:
- Create a comforting and safe room for your dog to hide in during the storm.
- Play soothing music to mask thunder booms.
- Play games with your pooch to distract them.
- Many dog owners swear by thunder shirts. These are garments that fit snugly around the dog’s torso. These garments are often used to calm anxious pets, but there are only a few studies that supporting their effectiveness.
- There are also synthetic pheromone products on the market that can help calm your pooch.
- Talk to your veterinarian to find out if your dog might benefit from prescription anti-anxiety medication.
- Dogs with severe storm phobia are best evaluated by an animal behaviorist who can work directly with the dog and owner to counter-condition and desensitize the dog.
Thunder Anxiety Research
According to Dennis, several studies have found that dogs who live with other dogs are less likely to show stress during thunderstorms.
There is also a study suggesting that green tea can help alleviate storm anxiety in dogs. In the study published by The Journal of Veterinary Behavior, the active ingredient found in green tea produced a calming effect on dogs suffering from storm anxiety.
Dr. Amy L. Pike studied twenty four dogs who had a history of storm anxiety. The dogs were given the drug, Anxitane®, to treat their fears, and they showed a significant reduction of anxiety. Anxitane’s active ingredient is L-theanine, a nutritional supplement with no known side effects. It is known to modulate brain function, having a calming effect. This ingredient is found naturally in green tea.
Anxitane is a chewable tablet available through veterinarians. This medication earned a 94% overall satisfaction rating from dog owners who expressed their willingness to continue using the product.