Dog Storm Phobias

Storm Phobia / Noise Phobia | Rochester MN

When a pet exhibits fearful and anxious behavior during thunderstorms, this is referred to as “storm phobia.” Signs range from mild (panting, pacing, drooling, hiding, whining) to extreme (urine/stool accidents in the house or destruction of property—such as chewing out of a kennel or breaking through a window in an attempt to escape). Cats may also experience storm phobia, but since they usually just go and hide, this often goes unnoticed. Storm phobia is a form of noise phobia. Dogs that are afraid of storms can express fear of fireworks, gunshots, or other loud noises as well.

Non- medical Management

Mild storm phobia can sometimes be managed without the use of medication.

  1. Cover windows to block lightning flashes.
  2. Use background noise (such as a radio or TV) to muffle thunder crashes.
  3. Do not punish your dog for being afraid. Punishment only increases their fear.
  4. Do not coddle or comfort your dog for showing fear, either. By telling them “it’s okay,” you inadvertently praise them for acting fearful. Rather than petting your dog, apply constant even pressure with your hands (using the Temple Grandin theory of the calming effect of constant pressure).
  5. Some dogs tolerate storms better with the use of a Thundershirt (www.thundershirt.com) anxiety-wrap or ADAPTIL (dog appeasing pheromone, www.dapdiffuser.com) dog appeasing pheromone plug-in product or collar.
  6. Desensitization and counter-conditioning: Play a thunderstorm recording in the background for 5-minute sessions several times a day. Engage the pet in a fun activity, such as eating or playing fetch, at the same time. Gradually increase the amount of time and volume setting the storm track is played as your pet’s tolerance develops. Decrease the volume or turn it off if your dog shows fear.

Medications

Many dogs that suffer from storm phobia cannot be effectively consoled with non-medical methods. Dogs that have storm phobia may benefit from receiving Composure, a calming supplement containing tryptophan and milk casein protein in a tasty non-sedating oral chew by VetriScience. Those pets that are anxious in general (not only during thunderstorms) may benefit from receiving Composure on a daily basis (it can be given on either a daily or as needed basis).

Oral prescription medications, such as alprazolam, may also be necessary during times of increased stress. The main side effect is sedation. When alprazolam is given, try not to give it with food containing fat (such as butter or peanut butter) since this delays onset of the calming effect. Always start at the lower end of the dosage range and work your way up only if necessary.

Please ask us any questions you have on storm phobias.

Quarry Hill Park Animal Hospital
2554 Clare Ln NE
Rochester, MN 55906

Phone: 507-285-1059

Hours of Operation
M W F: 7:30 am - 5:00 pm
Tue: 7:30 am - 5:30 pm
Thu: 7:30 am - 6:30 pm
Sat - Sun: Closed

AAHA Certified