Thunderstorm Phobia in Dogs is Real

By Jolyn Johnston-Myers
May 24, 2016

Even before the National Weather Service issues a severe thunderstorm warning, some dog owners know they’re in for some rough weather. That’s because their otherwise well-behaved dog begins to pace, pant, hide in the closet, or crawl under the bed. In severe cases they may even claw through drywall, chew carpets, or break through windows.

Thunderstorm phobia in dogs is real. Kansas State University veterinarian Susan Nelson says dogs who suffer from severe thunderstorm phobias may need prescription medication.

“There are some medications people can find online to help with mild anxieties that don’t require prescriptions,” said Nelson. “But for the more severe ones, sometimes we have to do a little more powerful drugs and a little more coaching with those dogs and with those clients.”

For dogs with mild thunderstorm phobias, Nelson said there may be other things pet owners can do besides giving them medication.

“You might want to put them in a room with the drapes drawn shut so they don’t see

the flashes,” Nelson suggested. “Run a radio or a TV at very loud sounds. Also, give them a place where they can go. If they like to hide under the bed and they’re ok there, let them stay there, that’s their safe place. If they like to be in their crate, let them stay there, that is their safe place.”

According to Nelson, cats typically don’t have thunderstorm phobias. But when a thunderstorm is approaching, they may find somewhere to hide until the storm passes.

Not as exciting… but not usually destructive, either.