Dogs freak out during a thunderstorm. This is a fact. But, why does this happen? As we head into 2021 and wish for spring to ‘hurry up and get here‘ most of us have stormy weather to look forward to. And, with storms come thunder. Let’s take a closer look at what causes dogs anxiety during thunderstorms.

Dogs freak out during a thunderstorm - learn the reasons behind it and how you can help your dog! #thunderstorms #noiseanxiety #dogearplugs

Signs To Look For When Dogs Freak Out During A Thunderstorm

Ears back, tails down, eyes wide, panting, lip licking and yawning are the signs to look for.

Terry Curtis, Clinical Behaviorist, University of Florida, College of Veterinary Medicine

But, there are also dogs that can have a panicked response to thunderstorms. These dog’s fight or flight instinct kicks in and they dig through walls, run away by getting out in any way possible. This can even include jumping, or using their body to push through sliding glass doors.

What Is Barometric Pressure And What Does It Have To Do With This?

Barometric pressure is the measurement of air pressure in the atmosphere that surrounds us. Barometric pressure changes constantly. Barometric pressure tends to drop prior to a bad weather event. When barometric pressure drops it creates an opportunity for your dog’s body tissues to expand. This causes pressure on a dog’s body. While these changes are not huge, they are enough to cause discomfort. And, even lacking discomfort a dog tends to freak out due to the pressure change – it’s different and unexplained.

When the barometric pressure drops rapidly, that means the pressure outside your ears goes down before the pressure inside your ears can acclimate. The result is a pressure imbalance, which can cause a sensation of fullness or popping in the ears.

Healthy Hearing

Do Dog Earplugs Help With Pressure?

Just like humans… It depends. Without dogs having a completely uniform anatomy and physiology one answer cannot apply to all dogs. Plus, unlike humans, dogs cannot provide us with verbal feedback. So, our knowledge is based on observation of dogs. However, think of it this way: when you swim and wear earplugs to protect from water intrusion there is a brief, very minimal suction action that you feel/experience – but, only periodically. Sometimes you insert them just right and sometimes you don’t. The same is true of dogs and earplugs and their effect on pressure. But, we believe it’s worth a try – particularly if your dog is one that really freaks out due to pressure-related thunder busters!

Electrostatic Charges

Thunderstorms and the resulting weather changes create electrostatic charges. If you have a double-coated dog, or a dog with long hair then it is highly likely that your dog has experienced a ‘spark’ during a thunderstorm. In this scenario, your dog will more-than-likely learn to dislike thunderstorms because they know they will get little jolts of static shock. If this is your dog you can give your pup a spritz of fur grooming/conditioning spray. Just spray your dog down, making sure you get the conditioner through all of your dog’s fur, including their paw pads. Also, keep your dog away from metal and change out their water bowls to glass to minimize the little shocks.

Noise Anxiety

Noise anxiety is a big one for dogs freak out during thunderstorm. Face it, even humans can freak out when the thunder starts booming. It’s unnerving. However, humans have different coping mechanisms and understand that the thunder won’t hurt them. For a dog, thunderstorms are scary, plain and simple. Buffering the noise is the biggest thing you can do to help alleviate your dog’s noise-related anxiety for thunderstorms. For this, we definitely recommend our dog earplugs. But you will need to train your dog to use them – they are a tool, not magic.

General Safeguarding For Your Thunderstorm Freaked Out Dog

Dogs freak out during thunderstorm for one or more of the reasons listed above. The one thing all of these reasons have in common is that your dog relies on you for relief. Here are some simple steps you can take to help your dog in these weather-related situations.

  • Behavioral Conditioning
  • Pet CBD
  • Soft Classical Music
  • Special, Calming Room
  • In-Ear Dog Earplugs

Create a calm space, with a lot of blankets for cuddling, and soft music. Train your dog to go to this space whenever they are uncomfortable. Use treats and their learning will be expedited. Depending on your dog they may or may not benefit from pet CBD – again, it is unique to the physiology of each dog. To learn more about these options, read this.

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