ANIMALS 101 – IF YOUR PET BECOMES ANXIOUS OR FEARFUL DURING STORMS OR FIREWORKS, THEY MAY HAVE A NOISE PHOBIA.
Some pets become anxious or panicked not only due to the noise of a storm but due to the flashes of lightning, rain, wind, odours or changes in barometric pressure and this could indicate a storm phobia. Storm phobias tend to get worse over time instead of better, so for this reason, the earlier you start treatment to help your pet cope, the better.
There is always an increase in lost pets after thunderstorms or fireworks and it is preventable! Remember you are responsible for their well-being!
TOP 4 TIPS
- Creating a safe space for them to retreat to, is one of the first things to do!
- Make sure your yard is secure and safe as many pets who try to escape get stuck on palisades or hurt on other fencing.
- Make sure they are micro-chipped AND that you registered the microchip on more than one database. Make sure your micro-chip information is up to date as well as your animal having an up-to-date tag on their collar. This is a big challenge when we find pets with out-of-date details.
- Consult with a fear-free trainer to help desensitize you pet.
NOISE PREPARATION TIPS (From Beyond Behaviour)
- Use a teaspoon to knock on various surfaces around the house and follow up with a treat. This teaches your dog that startling sounds predict yummy food.
- Teach your pet to use a Kong or chew toy so that they can engage in this calming activity during the next thunderstorm occasion.
- If you know your pet is prone to extreme stress during this time, then see your Veterinarian before the time for some medication. Do not use human medication! Talk to your vet about natural calming remedies.
Watch this video for more details.
WHAT TO DO DURING THUNDERSTORMS
- On the day of the expected thunderstorms, look for your animals, especially cats, before it starts.
- Close windows and curtains so your pet is not startled by sudden flashes.
- Keep your pets indoors with windows, doors and pet doors shut & secured so they can’t escape when spooked.
- If your cat is not used to being indoors, provide extra litter boxes inside.
- Provide your pet with food before the thunderstorm as it can help calm them or they might be too stressed to eat later.
- Create a safe spot for your pet to retreat to when they’re feeling anxious about an approaching storm. It should be indoors, in an interior room of your home, one with no windows, if possible. Place a crate in the space along with bedding, water, treats and a toy. Anything that can help mask the sounds. Cats also feel secure in and loves boxes.
- Put on the TV or soft calming music, to mute the thunderstorm bangs.
- If your pet is hiding, don’t try to lure them out. This can make them become more anxious & stressed.
- Distract your pet with treats or play time if they are pacing or displaying nervous behaviour. Give them something to chew. Play with your pet during thunderstorms. Creating an association between play and the cracks of lightning will aid in generalizing a positive emotional state during thunderstorms or fireworks.
- Stay home with your pets in these frightening times as you would with frightened children.
- Stay calm as they can feel your anxiety.
- For some, a weighted blanket or wrapping helps too.
NOTE: If you find a lost dog, please take them to the SPCA or local shelter.
Thank you for tuning in! Next week we will look at animal enrichment.
WHEN YOU KNOW BETTER, DO BETTER!