It’s July – and along with the cries of joy from those who love summer there are also cringes of anxiety from those who know that summer means storms, which means thunder and lightning. And for many dog owners, that means dealing with panting, trembling, drooling dogs trying to hide under the couch or taking refuge in the bathtub.
So what helps those pups with storm phobia? We asked some of our SHUGer Mommas and Daddies for ideas and here they are. We really hope these help!
According to Megan, her greyhound Chase wants to crawl into her closet when the storms strike. To help, she clears out all her shoes and puts down a blanket for him. She’s also found relief with the Thundershirt. Where he once would pant and pace, she now puts on the shirt at the first glimmer of thunder. “Then he usually climbs into my closet and sometimes falls asleep there,” she says.
Others have also had success with the Thundershirt—even those who originally poo-pooed the concept. The Thundershirt reportedly works by applying a calming, gentle pressure. (It’s supposed to work for all types of anxieties, not just thunder or storms.)
Kim says her greyhound, Chris, will wear his and hide, but at least, she says, he’s not pacing and panting. Jacki points out you can make your own Thundershirt with an ace bandage or even a T-shirt that covers most of the body but is loose enough around the neck to not ride back and strangle them.
Sarah has a greyhound storm coat that appears to work differently than the Thundershirt. The Storm Away Coat isn’t snug and it had a silver lining that apparently counteracts static electricity, although we’re not sure if the coat is still being manufactured. (Anyone know if this is still available anywhere?)
Sometimes location helps. Bonnie says her lurcher, Gracie, is “absolutely terrified of thunderstorms” and she needs to head to the basement to feel better. Jen reports one of her dogs liked to lie next to the tub, which helps counter the static electricity of a storm.
Medications or “magic potions” of various types sometimes work as well. Cheryl swears by Stress Free Calmplex from Springtimeinc.com for her thunder phobic boy, Brady. With Calmplex, she reports he doesn’t act drugged, but stays happy and calm (after retreating to his safe place). Rescue Remedy can also help some dogs, but doesn’t work universally.
Gracie-the-lurcher benefits from two Benedryl taken before the storm hits. Melatonin may work for some. Elizabeth would give her 55-pound lurcher, Millie, 1 to 2 mg of Xanax to help get over the storm.
Distraction and noise can also help. Turning on the fan in the bathroom can muffle the noise of the storms and a stuffed kong can keep a dog distracted. Melissa has trained her dogs to come running for their kongs when the first boom is heard.
Jacki also reminded us that your attitude about storms is also important as dogs may follow your lead. If you’re not fond of the thunder, your sensitive dogs are sure to zero in on that. So stay calm – or get yourself a Thundershirt!
Finally, Deborah points out that sometimes all you need ride out the storm is your favorite stuffy.