Summer means increased thunderstorms in many places. While some humans enjoy the beauty of the afternoon storm, it is a nightmare for pet owners. Here we explain why your pet is scared of thunder, how to tell if they are anxious during the storm, and tips on calming pets. Causes of Storm Phobia in Dogs and Cats Several Do you have a dog that gets a bit nervous when a thunderstorm hits? A pet that runs and hides with the first clap of thunder?
How CBD Can Help with Thunderstorms That Scare Your Pet
Summer means increased thunderstorms in many places. While some humans enjoy the beauty of the afternoon storm, it is a nightmare for pet owners.
Here we explain why your pet is scared of thunder, how to tell if they are anxious during the storm, and tips on calming pets.
Causes of Storm Phobia in Dogs and Cats
Several factors work together to cause thunderstorm phobia in dogs and cats. These include:
- Thunder – Pets don’t understand what thunder is and that it cannot harm them. The loud unexpected BOOM startles them and makes them feel afraid. Multiple reports have surfaced of puppies and older dogs suffering heart attacks during events associated with loud noises, such as fireworks displays and thunderstorms.
- Changing barometric pressure – The rapid change of air pressure in the atmosphere caused by the storm makes dogs uncomfortable and may even trigger a stroke. Your dog is sensitive to barometric pressure because of its keen sense of smell. Changes in pressure cause odors to move differently in the air. The dog notices this and becomes scared because they associate that sensation with the trauma of thunderstorms.
- Startling bright flashes of lightning – Sudden lightning startles pets. Dogs and cats show signs of stress even when there is a lightning storm without the thunder. They associate the streaks of lightning with the unpleasant thunder experience.
- Storms bring static electricity – Your dog may be sensitive to static electricity in the air. Rubbing a balloon creates static electricity that causes your hair to stand on end. Dogs and cats experience the same sensation all over their bodies before, during, and after a storm.
- Pets hear low-frequency thunder – Ever felt like your dog or cat can predict a coming storm? Fear behaviors outlined below may show up even before the storm clouds form. This is because our pets have remarkable hearing. They hear the approaching storm long before you do.
Signs Your Pet is Afraid of Thunder
Every dog and cat are different and has its way of expressing fear. Know what to look for so you know how to help your pet.
Common signs of fear to look for in your pet’s behavior during foul weather include:
- Ears pinned back
- Tail down or pulled between legs
- Barking or whining
- Shaking and pacing during thunderstorms
- Hiding or remaining near the pet owner
- Fecal incontinence
- Destructive behavior, such as destroying furniture or hurling itself against a glass window
- Easily scared by not-so-loud noises
- Body posture is low to the ground
If you think this kind of fear is nothing and will go away after the storm is over, it is a huge psychological problem for your dog or cat.
So how do you calm your pet during a thunderstorm?
How to Soothe Your Pet’s Fear
Your dog’s or cat’s fear is real and warranted, and they require support and help from you as their most trusted companion.
Some ways to soothe your pet during a thunderstorm include:
- Creating a haven your pet can retreat to
- Keeping their environment calm by closing the blinds or curtains and playing soft music
- Keeping guests away from your panicked pet
- Swaddling or wrapping your pet can help keep them calm according to research
- Using extra support tools like pet CBD
How CBD May Help Your Pet Cope
All-natural supplements, such as cannabidiol (CBD), may help ease the fear of thunderstorms. Pet CBD has a calming effect without the harmful side effects associated with anti-anxiety drugs.
Here are other ways CBD helps:
- Support nausea and digestive disorders – Pets, especially the younger ones, can suffer from nausea as a reaction to fireworks and thunderstorms. This is because the events are very uncomfortable for them and may also interfere with their diets.
- Plan ahead – Preparing ahead with cat CBD is the best means to counter your pet’s fear. Administering the product during the event can be difficult, plus the effects may not kick in immediately.
- Counter thunder phobia with regular use – CBD oil may help improve behavioral changes in pets by dampening fear’s effect on them. Offering CBD hemp oil for dogs and CBD for cats within an hour of the storm may help calm them down.
- Desensitize and award calm behavior with CBD chews – Desensitizing some phobias is possible with the right tools. CBD edibites are an excellent way to encourage relaxed behavior. Use them to train your dog to face the situation calmly.
- Improve sleep quality – One of the most important properties of CBD is its ability to help pets maintain a normal and relaxed disposition. It can keep your cat calm and even asleep throughout the entire duration.
Lose the Stress and Help Your Pet Overcome Fear of Thunderstorms
Storm phobia causes are different for different pets. For some, it is the thunder, while others are sensitive to the barometric pressure changes. You can soothe your pets with techniques like calming formulas of dog CBD or cat CBD when you observe the signs. Remember to always consult with your veterinarian before using any supplements.
CBD for Pet Thunderstorm Anxiety
Do you have a dog that gets a bit nervous when a thunderstorm hits? A pet that runs and hides with the first clap of thunder?
Pet thunderstorm anxiety is real.
So much so that countless pets across the nation are prescribed actual prescriptions (one of our relatives calls these pills they gave their beloved basset hound “doggie Xanax”) to help ease this unwanted anxiety.
Many pet owners, however, aren’t in to the whole prescription thing.
Which is why several dog owners have turned to CBD when it comes the thunderstorm anxiety their canine companion tends to experience.
Does CBD work for pet thunderstorm anxiety? Is CBD really –?
Let’s take a closer look.
Why are Dogs Afraid of Thunderstorms?
If your four-legged friend has thunderstorm anxiety, he (or she) is certainly not alone.
It’s estimated that at least 40% of dogs experience noise anxiety, which occurs with more frequency in the summer months.
Did you know that busiest days for runaway dogs showing up at animal shelters is July 5?
According to Associate Professor of Clinical Animal Behavior at the University of California Davis, Dr. Melissa Bain, “It’s very serious. It’s a true panic disorder with a compete flight response.”
Why, though, are some dogs so afraid of loud noises associated with things like thunderstorms and fireworks?
It’s simple, even if it doesn’t seem like it when your dog starts going crazy as the thunder rolls.
Many dogs are afraid of thunderstorms because they don’t understand what it is or what’s going on.
The extremely loud noise can be perceived as a threat, which can in turn manifest as anxiety.
The loud unfamiliar noise, however, isn’t the only reason why dogs can become so anxious in thunderstorms.
There’s research, for example, that suggests the feeling of static electricity in the air from the thunderstorm is what’s so disturbing to some dogs.
This is because the atmospheric changes can cause static electricity to build up in a dog’s coat, which can feel very similar to a painful, electric shock.
According to Director of the Animal Behavior Department at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University, Dr. Nicholas Dodman, dogs can experience several shocks from static electricity during a thunderstorm.
Do thunderstorms have your dog running towards grounded spaces like the basement or bathtub?
The buildup of static electricity in their coat could be why.
CBD for Pet Thunderstorm Anxiety
In case you haven’t heard, humans aren’t the only species benefiting from CBD.
More and more pet owners than ever have started using CBD for their furry friends.
Pet parents are touting the benefits of CBD for their dogs and cats, claiming that it helps everything from seizures and pain to anxiety and appetite.
Sounds similar to the benefits associated with humans, no?
This is because, just like humans, dogs (and other animals) have their own endocannabinoid system.
And while there’s little research (yet) to back up the claims that have changed the lives of so many pets (and their owners), CBD has become one of the most popular pet products that have hit the market in a while.
Sales of CBD products for pets quadrupled in just one year from $8 million in 2017 to $32 million in 2018.
It’s estimated that by 2022, CBD pet sales could reach almost $2 billion.
Despite the lack of clinical research that’s been conducted on pets and CBD, personal accounts from pet owners themselves have made a serious impact on sales.
There’s anecdotal evidence all over the internet about ways CBD has helped people’s pets.
Take the 15-pound chihuahua with “extreme thunderstorm anxiety” who gets 2mg of CBD a day.
During a spring storm in Florida, she ran up to her owner shaking and shivering.
When her owner asked if it “was time for her medicine,” the chihuahua ran to the cupboard where her CBD is kept.
After giving the dog her regular dose, her owner contends she went off to take a nap with her tail wagging. “I don’t think it works that quickly,” says her owner, “but she knows she’s going to feel better after she has it.”
Joanne Schaus told CNBC that she found CBD oil for her dog online.
Schaus maintains that the 11-year-old Australian Shepard named Skid “gets wired” during thunderstorms.
Seeing that it storms frequently where she lives in Wisconsin, pacing and panting have become a somewhat regular occurrence.
After trying everything she could to no avail, Schaus tried CBD. She says that after a few weeks Skid’s panic attacks ended.
She says, “He just didn’t even notice the storm. I can’t say it’s completely fixed him because if we get a huge thunderclap he does get a little nervous.”
Full-on panic to “a little nervous” seems like a HUGE improvement to us.
What do Vets Have to Say About CBD for Pet Thunderstorm Anxiety?
While there are countless pet owners that claim CBD has significantly improved the lives of their pets, there’s simply no enough clinical evidence to back up their contentions.
Dr. Stephanie McGrath from the University of Colorado Boulder says, “There’s a lot of anecdotal stories about it but no science.”
This is something McGrath hopes to see change.
She works at CSU’s College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences and began studying the effects of CBD on dogs with epilepsy and osteoarthritis after recreational cannabis was legalized in Colorado in 2012.
In her first study, McGrath found that CBD was well-tolerated in animals in certain amounts.
She’s completed several studies since, which are being reviewed before being published to the public.
The results from her preliminary study showed such promise, however, that the American Kennel Club awarded her $350,000 in funding to begin a three-year crossover study.
American Veterinarian Medical Association (AMVA) spokesperson Michael San Filippo told CNBC in an email that the organization does not have a position directly related to cannabis products for pets.
So, while the AMVA’s position isn’t quite clear, this hasn’t stopped several vets across the country from recommending it to their patients.
After our female dog had knee surgery, our vet asked us if we were familiar with CBD, maintaining that it would be excellent to give her after she has finished up with her prescription meds.
Here’s the thing. CBD could be exactly what your dog needs to help eradicate that thunderstorm anxiety.
But before you rush out and buy all the latest CBD products for pets, it’s vital you talk to your vet.
Starting your dog out on anything new (regardless if it’s natural or not), should always be discussed with your dog’s doc beforehand.
What About CBD Dosage for Dogs?
How much CBD should you give your dog for thunderstorm anxiety?
Dosing CBD is a common concern with humans and animals alike. When it comes to dogs, just how much CBD should they take?
In a Project CBD article , Oakland-based veterinarian Dr. Gary Richter explains how to use cannabis to treat pain and inflammation in pets.
While thunderstorm anxiety is a different issue than pain and inflammation, Richter’s recommendations can also be used for pets who suffer during storms.
For CBD dosing, Richter recommends 0.5-5mg CBD per 10 pounds of body weight twice a day.
He advises to start low and increase the dose every 4-7 days, contending that frequent doses near the lower end of the range are effective.
He also says that higher doses of CBD could be beneficial in some situations.
Like with humans, it’s best to start low and go slow when it comes to administering CBD to your dogs for thunderstorm anxiety.
We personally give our dogs CBD for different reasons.
When it comes to anxiety, our male dog reigns king. He could even be scared of his own shadow. All 75 pounds of him.
We’ve found that 20mg twice a day is his sweet spot and that CBD has seemed to seriously help calm his frazzled nerves.
Our female dog is a bit smaller and receives 15mg twice a day to help her maintain healthy joints and keep that knee in the best shape possible.
We’re also hoping it works preventatively as there’s a 50% chance her other knee could go at any time.
You know your dog better than anyone else. Use Dr. Richter’s guidelines as a starting point until you find the ultimate dosage for your own dog.
And yes, always, always, always talk to your vet before starting your dog on CBD.