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Help available for storm-phobic dogs

SHARON THEIMER Modified: August 13, 2009 at 4:45 am •  Published: August 13, 2009
Let the dog settle down. A few minutes later, switch it on again for 30 to 60 seconds, then switch it off. Repeat it about five times at intervals of 10 minutes for four or five days, then repeat it a week or two later, he said.

Fox and others theorize static electricity and changes in barometric pressure also may disturb dogs. That may explain why some dogs seem to detect storms before people can and why some dogs that panic when it thunders at home are fine in the car, or retreat to the bathtub or shower when a storm hits, said Dr. Nicholas Dodman, a veterinarian and head of the animal behavior program at the Tufts University veterinary school in North Grafton, Mass.

Dodman experimented with two capes: one with an antistatic lining, the other without. Owners reported both capes helped their dogs, though the cape with the lining helped more.

Dodman suggests training the dog to go to a safe place during storms. The owner should initially stay with the dog and offer treats and training to reinforce that it’s a pleasant place.

Swaddling a dog also can help. It can be as simple as wrapping the dog in a light blanket or towel.

Other options include anti-anxiety medicines.


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