During Severe Weather, How to Reduce Storm Anxiety in Pets
While it’s important to prepare your homes and your families for severe weather this time of year, the safety and well-being of pets is also essential in many households.
Animals can display anxiety during times of inclement weather, showing nervousness, and even fear.
Dr. Philip Brown is a veterinarian at Animal Care Center in Springfield, who says dogs are especially prone to such symptoms.
“They kind of can pace, roam around, they can jump up on the couch, down, up, down. You almost wonder, ‘what’s going on with this dog? Why can’t it settle down?’ It’s almost like they just got bit by a bee. You know, just running around.”
He adds that dogs can have a tendency to chew on things, such as their crate or even a door, because they have an instinct to run away from what is scaring them.
Dogs could show these symptoms days before a storm actually arrives, because they’re able to sense a barometric pressure change in the weather, according to Brown.
“They might start piddling more often in the house. They can get to pacing. And then they can come into a destructive phase where they just want out to run.”
Brown said that dogs are denning animals, and one way an owner can protect their four-legged child is to put it inside of a crate with a towel or blanket. If the owner doesn’t have a crate, a confined space can serve the same purpose.
“We have some storm anxiety dogs, and instead of keeping them in the typical boarding facility, we’ll bring them into a glass run enclosure that can be all darkened.”
Another solution to keeping a dog calm is to use a product called a ThunderShirt, a piece of fabric that wraps around the animal, similar to swaddling an infant.
‘If you don’t have a ThunderShirt, you can wrap them in a blanket, you can put a jacket over them, anything to compress against their body,” Dr. Brown said.
Brown said that pet stores carry products that can also serve as remedies for storm anxiety, but it’s difficult to tell if those products will work since they’re not FDA-approved. An anti-histamine, such as Benadryl, could also work, but pet owners should first check with their veterinarian to ensure it won’t have any adverse effects.
Brown said veterinarians carry an array of medications that owners can give to their dogs to help keep them calm.
While storm anxiety is associated mostly with dogs, it can be present in other household pets, such as cats or birds. Birds can begin squawking, especially larger birds like parrots. Moving them into an interior room and putting a blanket over their cage can help keep them calm, Brown says. The blanket will keep the cage dark, mimicking the night, and birds are apt to quiet down and sleep.
Brown said cats can be trained to go into crates or carriers, which is encouraged by veterinarians, because they need a secure place to go to during times of feeling afraid.
Pet owners can visit the Baytown Humane Society website or Healthy Pets, both suggested by Dr. Brown, to learn more information about warnings, symptoms and cures for storm anxiety in animals. Owners can also contact their local veterinarians about medications and other remedies.