Can dogs sense thunderstorms?
There’s no denying that our canine companions are intelligent creatures who are more aware of everything around them compared to their owners. Because their sense of smell is better than our own and with far more acute hearing it might not be surprising that dogs can pick up on impending weather changes much before we do.
Here’s exactly how our dogs sense a storm several hours before we even know it’s on its way!
The signs of sensing a storm
Your dog might start to show signs of stress if there’s a storm on its way, including:
- Panting excessively
- Putting their tail between their legs
They might even seek some type of shelter, or at least stay inside if they sense a change in the atmosphere.
You may also notice them start to pace around, whine, bark and drink more while others may prefer to seek the comfort and love of their human when they feel that bad weather is approaching. If you notice a change in your dog’s behaviour, it might be worth checking the weather forecast to see if they’re on to something!
The science behind their behaviour
When the pressure in the air changes and charges in electricity spike, it can alert our canine companions that a storm is on its way. If this isn’t something they pick up on, dogs might hear the thunder before we know it’s coming.
How to keep a dog calm and safe during thunderstorms
Some dogs will panic when a storm is on its way so it’s important for you to keep an eye on the weather forecast so that you can plan accordingly to help keep them safe when the thunder rolls in.
Keep them indoors
Always keep your dog indoors during thunderstorms if you can or bring them in as soon as you can when one starts. Avoid walks when a storm’s due or head home as soon as you hear the first rumble so that you and your dog stay safe and dry.
Remember: Make sure your dog’s microchip information is up to date so that you can be reunited if they are spooked by the storm and run off.
Block out the outside
Having the TV or radio on might help distract your dog from the noises outside while closing the curtains can black out any flashing from the lightning.
Colleague top tip:
“I found the music most effective is classical and can help soothe the situation.”
Create a safe place
Try creating a safe place for your dog to retreat to when it’s too noisy outside. A comfy, enclosed bed or a crate draped with a blanket can help make your dog feel safe and secure.
Try a pressure wrap
Like swaddling an infant, a thunder wrap, vest, jacket, or shirt applies a gentle, constant pressure to your dog’s torso helping release calming hormones and endorphins. They’re said to help calm pets in stressful situations, like during a storm, fireworks, trips to the vet, and more.
Top tip: If you’re dog doesn’t like Velcro (usually found on thunder wraps) then try sitting with them under a weighted blanket or just cuddling with them on the sofa.
Speak to your vet
Speak to your vet if your dog gets extremely agitated during thunderstorms as they may be able to recommend medication or a natural remedy for pets.
Remember: Never shout at your dog even if they’ve been destructive during a storm as this will only add to their stress.