Thunderstorm fear?
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Thread: Thunderstorm fear?

  1. #1
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    Thunderstorm fear?

    My older dog that I got from the humane society a year or so ago has a really bad case of thunderstorm fear. I fostered her after she had been returned to the humane society three different times. Once because she's a fairly large dog and she jumped on the lady and knocked her over, again because she kept getting out of the yard every single time it would rain and she would end up at the animal shelter and the third time she was returned was because of barking. None of those issues were an issue with me. She was never outside long enough to have barking be an issue, I never left her out in the rain and I worked with her to stop her from greeting people by jumping up.

    Anytime it rains though she will start pacing and panting heavily. Sometimes she will even pee and she never uses the restroom in the house otherwise. Now and then I can put her in her crate and she will calm down but last night it just made things worse. It's not just thunder she's afraid of rain, lightning and of course the loud thunder doesn't help. I'm not sure how a dog becomes afraid of thunderstorms and I don't know too much about her history besides what I have from the humane society. She is also a fear agressive dog but I don't know if that has anything to do with it. She's getting much better with that though, but I am out of ideas on how to deal with her during thunderstorms.

    Is there anything to do? Or is it something that has been going on long enough that you can't get rid of it.

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    Re: Thunderstorm fear?

    My cousin has the exact problem you describe. Someone told her if she wrapped the dog in a big t-shirt or towel before the dog senses the storm it would calm the dog. Nothing to lose, so next time it was threatening to rain she tried it...it actually worked. I have no idea why it does,it's supposed to have something to do with static in the air... but I was reading on some site that you can buy a special blanket to wrap the dog in. She never bothered since the t-shirt helped. She doesn't even give her dog Benadryl to calm it down anymore. Some vets will prescribe low dosage of valium also if the fear is severe...I would prefer the t-shirt.

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    Senior Member TooneyDogs's Avatar
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    Re: Thunderstorm fear?

    Thuderstorm phobia can get worse for a dog as it ages. Part of that fear is in response to declining eyesight and hearing. The body wraps work for some dogs because it covers most of the skin sensors that detect seismic and barometric changes. Dogs tend to seek out a really safe place. For some it might be in the bathtub or under a bed. So, let her chose the spot.
    For severe cases vets will often prescribe a year-round medication or meds to be taken during the storm season. DAP Diffusers (they release a calming pheronome) can also be helpful.
    The important thing is to not baby or try to soothe her...that can make it worse as it confirms her fear that this is really bad. Watch/control your own reaction to a crack of thunder....if you jump/cringe, the dog jumps even higher and digs a deeper hole.

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    Re: Thunderstorm fear?

    I give melatonin, and for me it works a treat. Ginger weighs about 10 lbs. and I give her 1/2 a 3 mg tablet. Not the time release or sub lingual stuff. When I catch it in time, and it has 15 - 30 mins before the noise starts she just stays wherever she happened to be and no racing off to the closet to hide and shiver. I doesn't put dogs to sleep like it does to people, just chills them out a little. It works if you give it after too but they're a lot harder to pill when they're already agitated. I usually fold it up in a piece of Velveeta.

    How much does your dog weigh?

    (in order left to right) Cookie, Pepper, Sam , Mr. Bojangles , Cocoa, Ginger , Cassie

    Semper in faecemus solum, Sole in profundum variat



  7. #5
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    Re: Thunderstorm fear?

    She's about 110 lbs, she's half great pyr and half collie and a bit on the heavy side lol but not huge.


  8. #6
    Senior Member AkiraleShiba's Avatar
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    Re: Thunderstorm fear?

    If she is afraid of the noise, you can get a recording of a thunderstorm (probably easy to find on the net) and play it at a very low level for a little bit. As she gets more comfortable with the sound, you can bring up the volume the next time until she can stand a full-fledged thunderstorm.

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    Re: Thunderstorm fear?

    Awwww, what a sweetie. That face, those eyes. And I Love the Bows

    Well I'm very pleased with melatonin for my dog, I've been using it myself for years, any time I want to make sure I go to sleep on time, or change my circadian rhythm . That I know of there are no negative side effects. Although all the positive things I've heard have all been anecdotal. Works for me, works for my dog.
    If you wanted to start her out, a conservative dose would be about 3 mg. They effect everyone differently some people say it does nothing some people say it puts them right out. I got the info for dogs from one of my natural dog health books (can't remember which one) written by a Holistic Vet. I've also heard about Valerian but have never used it personally so can't give advice.

    (in order left to right) Cookie, Pepper, Sam , Mr. Bojangles , Cocoa, Ginger , Cassie

    Semper in faecemus solum, Sole in profundum variat



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    Re: Thunderstorm fear?

    I found these responses really helpful, thanks! I was wondering why my dog (10yrs) never used to react too badly to thunderstorms when he was younger whereas he sometimes gets quite worked up now. I'll give the melatonin a try.

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    Re: Thunderstorm fear?

    Quote Originally Posted by spottydog View Post
    I found these responses really helpful, thanks! I was wondering why my dog (10yrs) never used to react too badly to thunderstorms when he was younger whereas he sometimes gets quite worked up now. I'll give the melatonin a try.
    How much does your dog weigh?

    (in order left to right) Cookie, Pepper, Sam , Mr. Bojangles , Cocoa, Ginger , Cassie

    Semper in faecemus solum, Sole in profundum variat



  12. #10
    Senior Member digits mama's Avatar
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    Re: Thunderstorm fear?

    Its amazing how prominent this fear is in dogs..I didnt know this until I started coming to this forum.


    My 16 year old baby was afraid of thunderstorms. It only started when he was 10 years old..I never had a problem until I moved to the coast where I am 5 miles from the gulf. I used to coddle his fear, When one would approach and he was with me I would grab his favorite blankie and sit with him under it until he was calmed.If I wasnt home I would bee line it here to take care of him because I knew how great his fear was. It only worsed as the years went by, even worse when he started losing his hearing and sight.

    One weekend I went out of town on a friday. My son was taking care of my animals while I was gone and he let Digit out of the house and into the yard for a little bit. I have a 6 foot fence surrounding my 6 acres that is totally secure, Except for one of my drivers was running late and left the back gate open...Which is 300 foot in back of my house. Son thought the gate was closed and left for work..right down the street. This was on friday afternoon. When he got to work a thunderstorm brewed in the distance. His boss allowed him to leave to put Digit in the house. Then he noticed the back gate was opened. We never found Digit. But I am still looking. He has been missing since early June.

    When I came here I noticed I did everything wrong when it came to thunderstorms.. I reinforced his behavior by coddling him. Instead of trying to pretend nothing was wrong with the thunder, I tought him to fear it even more.

    I pray your pets get over thier fear..I hated seeing him so afraid of it. It was terrible to see him shiver and cry. I always thought that would be his demise because the stress was so great. I just never thought he would leave us like that.

    Good luck with everything.

  13. #11

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    Re: Thunderstorm fear?

    ChrissyBz - sorry for late reply! My dog is about 58lbs. I checked with the vet and my Spotty's cleared to take melatonin. From the reading I've done, a 3mg tablet is fine for him but I'm not sure if you have more advice?

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    Re: Thunderstorm fear?

    The only other advice I have is, if you have problems pilling, I use sliced Velveeta cheese. Small enough that it can go down without chewing works EVERY TIME! Even for my fussy bitch, who incidentally is also the storm freak.

    Glad to hear your vet gave the go ahead.

    (in order left to right) Cookie, Pepper, Sam , Mr. Bojangles , Cocoa, Ginger , Cassie

    Semper in faecemus solum, Sole in profundum variat



  15. #13

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    Re: Thunderstorm fear?

    Haha that sounds such a great idea, thanks for the tip!

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    Re: Thunderstorm fear?

    Brandy our 5 year old schnauzer has slowly grown to be afraid of thunder and fireworks. Fireworks being the worse. I haven't coddled her when the thunder is around - she goes into the basement under a work bench, but I have coddled her when the fireworks were around, "unfortunately". Not sure how to "undo" what I have done.

    As far as the t-shirt goes, Brandy is a 15 lb dog, what size tee would you suggest and how do you make it "tight"? I'll look up some info on the melatonin and talk to vet on Monday. Tally for 9 week vaccines and Brandy for a breathing problem.

    Has anyone used the melatonin for fireworks? the tee shirts? Someone also mentioned ace bandage wrapped around their dog? I noticed one of the vendors on the right side of the page on dog forums sells dog "wraps" that go around the neck that have certain herbs to help calm them. Anyone try these?

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