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How to Calm a Dog During a Thunderstorm

dog afraid during thunderstorm

A common statistic cited online is that about 40% of dogs experience noise phobia, with the most common triggers being loud sounds like thunderstorms and fireworks. One study on canine anxieties and phobias even observed that “failure to treat can result in disruption of the human-animal bond.” Serious stuff for dog lovers and their furry friends. 

It should come as no surprise to many dog owners and caretakers that the busiest day of the year for dog shelters taking in runaway dogs is July 5, after the racket caused by July 4 fireworks celebrations. The dogs are confused and terrified by the loud noise, so they run wherever they can to escape it.

A dog or puppy scared of thunderstorms with a storm phobia, might react with fearful behavior such as pacing about, trembling, whimpering, panting, fidgeting, barking, drooling, hiding in a confined space, chewing the carpet or other parts of your home, urinating, defecating or vomiting ... the list goes on. 

And if the thunderstorm phobia alone weren’t bad enough, there’s something else that is driving your dog crazy: static electricity. Noted veterinary behaviorist Dr. Nicolas Dodman says that this is the major cause of your dog’s distress during a thunderstorm. Because of the atmospheric changes, static electricity builds up in your dog’s fur and he experiences numerous shocks during a thunderstorm. As a dog owner, knowing this is extremely important when it comes to finding the right solution for your dog. 

Thankfully, there are plenty of options available to calm a fearful dog down during a storm.

How to Calm a Dog in a Thunderstorm

There are various aspects of dogs and thunderstorms that can cause agitation and stress in your pet, so identifying what the specific trigger is can help you determine how to calm a dog during a storm. Following are some ideas on how to help a dog scared of thunderstorms:

Static Electricity

Take your dog to the most grounded area. Smart dogs often head to the empty bathtub during a thunderstorm, because they know that the porcelain of the tub blocks the electricity from traveling. Basements are also grounded.

You can counteract the effects of static electricity by misting your dog’s fur with water, making it incapable of holding a charge. Moisturizing shampoo and conditioner, ionic brushes, pet fur wipes and omega-3 fatty acid supplements will also help avoid these hair-raising episodes. (Do not use dryer sheets as they contain known harmful chemicals.)

Thunderstorm Noise

Don’t leave your dog alone. If you can’t be home with your dog when storms are expected, arrange for someone to stay with him. 

Generate calmness. Practice canine diversion noise diversion tactics. You can often calm a dog down during a thunderstorm by offering his favorite toy, laying an indoor game of fetch or tug or giving him a massage.

Create a safe place for your dog. A soundproof room would be ideal, but any room where you can close the blinds may work. If your dog is crate-trained, put him inside with the door open and cover the crate with a blanket.

Stay calm. Studies have shown that “dogs can see and hear the signs of human emotions,” so it’s important to remain calm. If you’re fearful, it will only heighten your dog’s nervousness.  

Play some “dog calming music.” YouTube has plenty of music designed to make your dog relax, as do streaming services like Spotify, Deezer, Tidal and Apple music. 

Dog Clothing and Accessories

Invest in an anti-stress jacket or thunder shirt. The idea behind anti-stress jackets for dogs is that it makes them feel like they’re being hugged (similar to what a weighted blanket does to help humans sleep). In her book Animals Make Us Human, Temple Grandin, who is a professor of animal studies, recommends putting the thunder jacket on your dog for 20 to 30 minutes, taking it off for 20 to 30 minutes and then repeating as necessary.

Calming cap – As the name implies, a calming cap makes your dog calm by reducing his visual stimuli. He will still be able to navigate his surroundings, but his vision won’t be quite as sharp. 

Chemical Interventions

Medications – These medications should only be given to dogs under medical supervision and treated as a last resort. They must be given to your dog at least an hour before a storm, and anti-stress drugs have potential side effects. For example, tricyclic antidepressants may cause lethargy, dry mouth and gastrointestinal symptoms; selective serotonin-reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) may cause drowsiness and interact with other medications; and benzodiazepines may cause drowsiness and dizziness. 

Synthetic dog pheromones – These chemical signals are emitted by many animals and are noticed by other animals, including dogs. (It’s unknown whether humans produce or react to pheromones.) Dogs release different pheromones based on the circumstances. Synthetic versions of dog pheromones have proven effective in getting a dog to calm down in stress-inducing situations.

What Not to Do With Your Dog During a Thunderstorm

While there are many things you can try to help calm a dog during a thunderstorm, take a look at how you have been handling these events. As a pet owner as a pet owner are you unintentionally reinforcing undesirable behavior, or taking actions that may be ineffective and/or unfair to your pet? These may include:

Excess coddling – If you indulge your dog in his fears, he could conclude that it is justified, which could in turn condition him to seek attention as a coping strategy.

Scolding or punishment – Your dog is not to blame for being fearful. He’s just being a dog. If you scold or punish your dog, it could cause him even more stress.

How to Calm Your Dog in a Thunderstorm Using Dog CBD

If you’re new to CBD, you may or may not be familiar with what’s known as the endocannabinoid system (ECS).The endocannabinoid system, discovered by scientists in the mid-1990s, the ECS acts on multiple systems in our body, including the cardiovascular, respiratory, reproductive and nervous systems. It’s our body’s main control system, sending out neurotransmitters to all areas of our body to check whether everything is running smoothly. If it finds a problem, it sends out instructions on how to fix it. 

All vertebrates (which includes dogs, obviously) and invertebrates are thought to have an ECS; however, this system is easy to throw out of whack. Diet, exercise, stress level and so on can take a toll on it. When that happens, CBD can provide a range of potential health benefits. The compounds found in the cannabis plant – from which CBD is extracted — interact positively with his ECS, which is why CBD has gained the reputation of having a calming effect on both humans and dogs. This makes it the ideal natural solution for ensuring you have a calm dog during a thunderstorm. 

Our Zebra CBD Canine Stress & Calming Chews not only contain broad-spectrum CBD (which means they won’t produce a “high"); they are also infused with multiple fatty acids, minerals and botanicals known for their coping and calming effects:

Ashwagandha – Adaptogens are nontoxic plants that help the body resist physical, chemical and biological stress. Ashwagandha is an extremely popular and effective adaptogen that as well as helping your dog cope with external stressors; it also promotes normal, healthy brain activity, healthy sleep and will promote normal immune function in your dog. A study published on the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) website concluded that “Ashwagandha root extract was associated with a significant reduction of stress levels in individuals and improved the overall quality of life.”

Omega-3 (EPA/DHA) – In addition to supporting normal brain function, omega-3 fish oil has long been thought to help with stress in both humans and dogs. A 2016 study by Nestle Purina’s nutrition research center found that 87% of the dogs given omega-3 showed “reduced cortisol responses and lowered heart rate” in situations designed to cause stress.

German chamomile – This member of the daisy family has been used for thousands of years; even the ancient Greeks, Egyptians, and Romans used the herb to promote a sense of relaxation.

L-theanine – Found in green tea, this amino acid has been shown to help counter the effects of normal environmental stress. It also supports balanced behavior.

ProbiosSEB DUO™ probiotic blend – The gut has been called “the second brain” because the gut microbes help shape neural development, brain biochemistry and behavior. ProbiosSEB DUO™ is a blend of two probiotics and a prebiotic. Together, these support the microflora balance in your dog’s intestinal tract, which can help to decrease stress. ProbiosSEB DUO™ can also help kill pathogens that invade your dog’s digestive system, helping to keep him healthy and comfortable.

Zinc and magnesium – Magnesium has been called “the original chill pill.” Both magnesium and zinc have been linked to the healthy development and function of the brain. Plus, they are thought to lessen hyperactivity and promote relaxation in dogs.

Should you choose to try CBD to help calm your dog during a thunderstorm, it’s a good idea to keep a journal detailing the experience. Note how he acted before taking the CBD and after, as well as how many chews you gave him. This way, you’ll have a clear picture of the most effective dosage and how effective the CBD chews are at calming your dog. 

If you’re looking for the best cbd for dogs, check out Zebra CBD canine products. With our Label Accuracy Guarantee™, you can feel confident that they contain all the right stuff for soothing your anxious pet. !

Most importantly, if your dog gets stressed out during a thunderstorm, you ignore it at your and your dog’s peril, as It could do irreparable damage to the bond you have with your pet.

Share the CBD love with your dog!

Our canine CBD products come in oil, chews and balm to make it easy for you to keep your pup healthy from nose to tail.

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