The harmful effects of hurricanes aren’t always measured in property damage. Protect your dog’s well-being with these tips!
- Thunder and lightning sometimes come with hurricanes and can frighten dogs
- Hurricane-induced sounds above and below human hearing can cause distress
- Dogs can develop physical symptoms caused by environmental static and drops in air pressure
- Soothing spaces, treats, toys, and even earmuffs can all ease a dog’s hurricane anxiety
- Veterinary consultation may be necessary if hurricane anxiety is excessive
The close relationship between dogs and humans is an ancient one. For centuries they’ve helped us hunt, safeguarded our homes, and made sure America’s producers of carpet cleaning products never go out of business. The least we can do in return is keep our four-legged friends safe during hurricane season.
Doing this the right way requires more than simply bringing them indoors when those high winds are brewing. Here’s our primer on pooch psychology that will explain just how heavy hurricanes can be for dogs, and how their owners can make their canine companion’s well-being a breeze.
Hurricanes sound way worse to dogs
Hurricanes can mean the sudden, booming sounds of thunderstorms, lightning, and other kinds of loud exterior noise. Many people are uncomfortable, perhaps even frightened, by all that racket. Just imagine if your hearing was up to four times more sensitive!
The American Kennel Club reminds owners that dogs can perceive sounds far higher in frequency than humans can, as well as sounds in the negative decibel range. Even the most distant rumble of thunder is enough to make dogs nervous and the crack of lightning – which is literally a sonic shock wave – can send them running for cover.
Pet owners can give their dogs plenty of soothing affection during bad weather and provide a comfort spot – a quiet place in the home their dog can go to for comfort when frightened. Ideally this will be a place where they can also avoid even the smallest sounds from media devices or household appliances. You could even investigate doggy earmuffs or earplugs from companies like Rex Spex or Crittear.
Electrical charges and barometric blues
Dogs become uneasy during hurricanes for reasons beyond sound. Hurricanes cause static in the air and drops in barometric air pressure, both of which, though silent, are strongly felt by dogs. Crittear highlights a few methods to help dogs cope with thunderstorm static affecting their bodies (especially thick-coated and large breeds):
- Rub them with a dryer sheet
- Use an air humidifier (a good all-around idea for your dog’s health any time of year)
- Keep dogs away from anything that could cause a static “zap”
Shifts in barometric air pressure sensitivity can cause physical problems for dogs as well. They may experience joint pain, which can cause lethargy, walking problems, and a drippy or congested nose caused by sinus reactions. Wrap your dog up in cozy blankets with familiar scents to counter these symptoms and help allay their discomfort.
Beat fear-induced behavior with positive distractions
Some dogs will look to retreat to their comfort spot during a hurricane, others may simply require extra affection until things blow over. Unfortunately, they could also become uncharacteristically loud or aggressive as a reaction to all that overstimulation. Here are some good ways to help in any of these situations:
- Positively reinforce good behavior with specialized calming treats during hurricanes
- Provide anti-anxiety toys for dogs to chew on, scratch up, or solve
- Consider an anxiety vest, but be sure to apply it correctly by also using it during non-stressful weather; this helps keep your dog from developing possible negative associations and responses
- Limit your dog’s exposure to the outside world during a storm by closing any open windows, doors, and curtains
Unfortunately, not all dogs will be helped by these methods. It’s sometimes necessary to consult a veterinarian who can provide expert advice on things like behavioral training and medication, which could succeed in calming your dog.
First-time dog owners could consider adopting multiple pets at once
“Won’t this just increase my problems?” Well, yes, but also no. Your pet care bills and vacuuming chores will increase, but so will your dogs’ sense of calm, at least according to one study from Penn State University. The data concluded that while the impact we have on alleviating our dogs’ thunderstorm anxiety may be limited, the presence of another dog can help tremendously.
Having another member of their species nearby lowers the production of stress hormones and improves their recovery time from stressful events. This can be a huge comfort for thunderstorm-phobic dogs who can experience a 207% increase in cortisol production during bad weather.
While the doctor who conducted the study concluded that she didn’t recommend that people who already have a dog with thunderstorm anxiety adopt additional dogs, her findings could be useful if you’re planning to adopt your first pooch. Adopting more than one dog at the same time could help them grow more accustomed to storms together.
Don’t forget to take care of your own stress in a hurricane
Dogs’ well-being during bad weather greatly depends on the cues they pick up from their humans. Take some steps to ensure you’re also managing hurricane stress, such as having a hurricane plan in place and staying connected to your personal circle and community.
Minimize the potential for domestic chaos by removing anything from your dog’s reach that they might scratch, bite, or break due to hurricane anxiety. You can also be ready for any incontinence accidents by putting down absorbent and disposable coverings in your dog’s favorite spots, and over anything else you want to protect.
Finally, you can ease your own hurricane stress even more by having a sufficiently powerful generator at home. It can help you and your pets stay cool in a crisis, keep the lights on, and ensure you stay digitally connected to the outside world.
Contact the power pros about hurricanes
We’re not veterinarians here at Universal Electrical Services, but we do know plenty about hurricane safety for homeowners and commercial sites. We can help you take the best electrical steps to create safety plans and develop habits that will protect people, property, and pups. Drop us a line on our contact page to ask questions or get a free service quote.