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Storm Stress Is Not Just For Humans courtesy of LA SPCA

Storm Stress Is Not Just For Humans Courtesy of Louisiana SPCA
With loud flashes of light and intense groan of rain and thunder, it’s no wonder that some pets get anxious during storms and hurricanes. Whether you use medicine, comforting items, or a task to keep them busy, establishing a storm routine for your pet who does not like the rain is essential to giving them the security they need.

While some people may think some animals are just more sensitive to loud noises, wetness and deviations from their routine, pets are more anxious during storms because they are sensitive to changes in the barometric pressure. It can cause static electricity in your dog’s fur, and it will feel like little stinging needles. So how do you soothe your pet while they are experiencing stress?

Just like children, our furry companions tend to pick up on our emotions. If you’re overly protective during a storm and cuddling them more, your dog or cat will notice and possibly feel greater anxiety. Instead, behave as if nothing is wrong, and your dog or cat will have more reason to keep calm and carry on as well.

The best advice we have is to prepare ahead of the storm. If you have a humidifier, we recommend turning it on a couple hours before you expect rain to reduce the amount of static electricity your pet would feel. The same goes for making sure that your pet is tired enough to possibly sleep through the storm.

How to help your pet before the storm:

• Take your dog on a long walk.

• Provide your dog or cat with some playtime as enrichment that will challenge their mind and use up some of their energy. Use a snuff mat with hidden treats or a puzzle to challenge and stimulate your dog’s brain or stuff a Kong with peanut butter or tiny treats.

• If your pet does take anxiety medication for storm-related anxiety, it is generally best to give them a dose before the weather starts.

• Set up a safe place for your pet to go during the storm. Absolutely do not leave them outside without proper shelter from rainfall and flying debris. A few quiet, calm places would include: a bathroom closet, under your bed, or even on the sofa next to you, if that is what your pet enjoys. A crate inside is a perfect way to keep your dog contained and safe during the storm. Add their favorite stuffed toys and a cozy dog blanket. Your dog is likely to be stressed and picking up on the family’s anxiousness, so set it up in the same room your family will be staying in. That will help them feel more comfortable while still being around the family. Pick an interior windowless room or closet to be as safe as possible in your home.

While you can do everything listed above, your pet may still experience some stress and anxiety from a storm or hurricane. While they are distressed, it is important to remember that your pet is not doing anything wrong. If they are whining, barking or panting it is their way of telling you they need comfort and you should not have a negative reaction to it, or ignore them and hope they stop. There are some things you can try while to help calm and ease their nerves during the storm.

How to help your pet during the storm:

• Swaddling blankets often calm crying babies and can do the same for our furry friends. Purchase a pressure blanket to wrap around your dog or cat any time they become stressed. The pressure from the blanket can provide a sense of security and protection.

• Use white noise such as fans and white noise machines will distract from booming thunderclaps. A TV or radio can also help, but be wary that bad reception may cause choppy sounds and alarm your pet.

• Once your furry family member shows signs of calming down, be sure to reward them. Just as you would give them their favorite treat or toy for a trick well done, reinforce their new, calm behavior by petting and giving them a tangible reward.

It takes time to figure out what your pet finds comfort in, so we encourage pet parents to not get discouraged if they try a suggestion or two and it does not immediately work. Some pets will find comfort from things not mentioned here, and that is totally fine if their comfort item or routine cannot harm them! Together you can figure out what works best. Remember that being there for them is the best thing you can do, especially concerning pets with storm-related anxieties.