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Dealing with Dogs and Thunderstorms

June 7, 2012 17 comments

Over Memorial Day weekend, the dogs and I spent a great deal of time inside due to extreme heat and thunderstorms.

Comforting Daisy was one of my most important tasks at that time.  As she shivered and panted through the boomers, I played music from Through A Dog’s Ear and put her in her Thundershirt.

As we face another round of storms coming up this weekend, I thought I would share some great tools, tips and links that were recently shared by Minnesota Sheltie Rescue. If you have a dog who suffers and shakes in fear during thunderstorms (and fireworks), you may want to check these out.

Create a safe place – The safe place should preferably be sound insulated (soundproof wallboard is an option) and have small or no windows, or covered windows.

Have super yummy treats handy (not day-to-day treats, something exceptional, human foods work well) After every boom, offer a piece of treat. Give the treat instantly, as soon as the noise is heard, but not before. For dogs who don’t eat, just offer the treat after every boom, making a (quiet) big deal out of it (“oooh, look what mommy’s got…!”).

Thundershirt– the best solution for dog anxiety

Thunderstorm cape – A cape to help calm your dog’s anxiety

Calming Cap – worn over the eyes

Mutt Muffs – Protects your dogs ears and can drown out the sound

Comfort Zone D.A.P. plug-in diffuser/collar/spray

TTouch – Use touch to help calm your dog

Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT)

Through a Dog’s Ear – calming music

Essential oils (therapeutic grade) diffused or applied, Young Living Peace & Calming

Hug therapy: Yes, it’s o.k. to hold your dog if your dog seems to find comfort in that! Fear is an emotion, not a behavior. Good things as perceived by the dog lessen fear, bad things intensify fear.

Please consult your vet when using the following:

Melatonin, 1.5 mg tablets (not capsules, not time-released, not sublingual, without extra ingredients). The dose is given either at first evidence of storm or prophylactically when storms are predicted. Dose may be repeated up to 3 times daily.

Optibalance Pet

Composure (also available in liquid)

Stress Free Calmplex

Herbal Calm

Skullcap & valerian

Homeopathy, consult a veterinarian who practices homeopathy on animals, to make sure you are using the right remedies

Flower essences: www.petessences.com, www.bachflower.com, www.greenhopeessences.com, you can combine up to 7 essences at once, dosing at 4 drops 4 times a day

Medication is NOT A LAST RESORT! Storm phobias tend to only get worse – the sooner you address your dog’s anxiety, the more successful you will be and the sooner relief is found. DO NOT use ACEPROMAZINE with herding breeds. (Update: Based on feedback from several sources, I would NOT use Acepromazine with ANY FEARFUL dogs.)

Dog Anxiety Medications – Information on various medications for dogs.

Some additional information on how to cope with your dog’s anxiety:

Patricia McConnell, Ph.D. – Thunder Phobia in Dogs

Fearfuldogs.com – Storm and Sound Phobias

Shy K9s Yahoo Group

Making time for “Daisytime” – What are your favorite moments with your pets?

March 20, 2012 16 comments

Daisy hates thunderstorms

Last night we had our first thunderstorm of the season. In March! I’m still shaking my head at the thought of a thunderstorm occurring so early in the year. Last year, we still had snow on the ground in May. Just crazy.

As soon as the thunder started, I put Daisy in her Thundershirt so she could be more comfortable. She is absolutely terrified of thunderstorms – she pants and paces and shakes like a leaf. Wearing her Thundershirt helps her to be less nervous. It’s also the only time that she prefers to cuddle (with the exception of her morning belly rubs). She spent the evening on the couch next to me as I rubbed her head and belly. I don’t like it when Daisy is so scared, but I do love the chance to cuddle with her. She is such a sweet and precious girl. She is my heart dog. I’m so glad that she finds my presence comforting when she is stressed.

Daisy in her Thundershirt


Cuddling with Daisy is one of my favorite things I get to do with her. Knowing how long it took for her to want to cuddle with makes these moments all the more precious. I call these moments with her – “Daisytime.” There is no “too busy” in Daisytime. There is no “not now” in Daisytime. When these moments come, you take them. Because you never know when you will get them again.

Do you have your own favorite moments with your own dogs or cats? If so, what are they?

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