Summer is storm season, and for sensitive pets – and their owners – it can be a stressful time. In fact, the RSPCA reports that after a storm it always experiences an increase in lost and found pets, as some animals become traumatised by the weather.
Here are some tips for helping your pet during storm season:
- Ensure your pet has up-to-date ID tags and mircrochip details.
- Remember, fireworks can also cause distress to pets. Keep this in mind at New Year’s Eve.
- Keep your pet inside – some pets feel safer in a small space such as a laundry, toilet or crate during storms. Ensure your pet has plenty of water and food on hand.
- Try to be home during storms, as your presence will help soothe your pet.
- Consider investing in an anxiety vest such as a Thundershirt, which can help calm your anxious pet.
- Look out for signs that your dog is becoming distressed (they might be able to sense the storm long before it hits). Whining, howling, running around and hiding can all be indications your dogs is becoming distressed.
- Stay calm. Your dog will take cues from your voice and body language, and if you are relaxed it will be easier to calm your pet.
- If this stressed behaviour is becoming the norm, consider providing some training for your pet. When the weather is fine, reward him for calm behaviour, and try to ignore the anxious behaviour. That way he will associate calm behaviour with rewards, and he will be easier to calm down during a stressful event such as a storm.
- During the storm, use an alternative therapy such as Rescue Remedy drops to help soothe your pet. Massage, essential oils and soothing music can also help.
- Lightning as well as thunder might be distressing, so close curtains or keep your dog away from windows to reduce his exposure to the flashing lighting.
- You can try to de-sensitise your pet to noise through training. Download a recording of a storm and over the course of a few weeks play it every day. First, on a low volume, and then increasing the volume as you go. Keep your dog calm throughout. This might help him when a real storm hits.
You can also train your new pup to remain calm during storms. When a storm hits, play with your pup to take her mind off the weather outside. Keep the games gentle but be attentive, and reward her for her calm, playful behaviour.
If you do lose your pet, first do a thorough search of your home to make sure he isn’t hiding somewhere. Notify the council and gather some friends and neighbours to search the neighbourhood. Call the RSPCA and local shelters and don’t give up searching, as some pets will turn up at home months after they have gone missing.