How to Keep Your Cat or Dog Calm During a Storm


Lighting in night sky

The return of spring can sometimes brings storms, which means that many pets, especially dogs, can experience symptoms of anxiety and stress. The heavy thunder and bright flashes of lightning can cause pets all kinds of problems and it can put fear into them, whilst many display stress before the weather changes as they may be able to sense a drop in atmospheric pressure.

There are many symptoms of storm anxiety such as drooling, pacing, panting, hiding, trembling and whining. It is a common problem in many dogs and around 15-30% of dogs suffer with the condition.

There are many ways in which pet owners can help to make their pet feel comfortable. The first thing to do is to remain calm, any change in the behaviour of the owner can be picked up by the dog, but it is also important to not make a fuss of the dog to the point where it can seem like the behaviour is being reinforced and rewarded.

Therefore there are a number of different strategies that can be used.

  • Make the environment comfortable for the animal, giving them a safe place where they can hide.
  • White noise can work and even a radio to help mask the noise from outside.
  • Play a game to act as a distraction.
  • Anxious pets also benefit from clothing that fits comfortably around their torso as it can help to calm them.
  • There are many pheromone products available that work by calming your pet.
  • A prescription anti-anxiety pet medication like Feliway (for cats) or Adaptil (for dogs) could work.
  • An animal behaviourist can work well for those pets that have a severe storm phobia. They can help to de-sensitize the pet.

Studies have also been carried out that show that dogs that live with other dogs are at a lower risk of experiencing stress during storms.

Other studies have shown that an active ingredient found in green tea can actually promote a calming effect in dogs that suffer with storm anxiety. Two dozen dogs were studied, all of which had experience of storm anxiety. Some of the dogs were given a drug known as Anxitane to deal with their stress and it helped to reduce their anxiety.

L-theanine is the active ingredient in Anxitane which is also a natural compound that is also found in green tea. L-theanine is a supplement that is used nutritionally but it does not have side effects and has been shown to regulate brain function encouraging calmness.

The study found the L-theanine is treatment that can be effective against storm anxiety and it was seen to reduce the severity of anxiety in the dogs. It also reduced the time it took for the dog to return to normal behaviour as well specific symptoms linked to anxiety.

Owners were satisfied with the product and saw an improvement in the animal and were willing to continue using the product. Anxitane is available from veterinarians and it comes in the form of a chewable tablet.

This article was provided by Medicines4Pets, a team of registered Veterinary surgeons and authorised retailer of medicines, accessories and supplies for pets.