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Top tips for pets during thunderstorms

Stormy weather can be the cause of a lot of stress for our furry friends. It’s not always easy to plan for inclement weather but knowing what to do in advance may help relieve some of the stress and anxiety for you and your pet.

Top tips for dogs

It is important to remember not to walk your dog during thunderstorms. There is a risk a frightened dog may run off if startled on a walk by the noise of thunder. It is also important to keep your pets microchip details up to date for this reason.   

Creating a safe and quiet space for your dog can be a welcome distraction. Some dogs are already crate trained, where they have their own den for comfort and space. Make sure you only ever associate this space with positivity, never use it for punishment. Use this space by placing it in any room in your house, cover with blankets to muffle any noises or flashing lights from lightning. The corner of a room is always acoustically the quietest area so this is a good space to site the crate if you can. 

You can keep your pet occupied with their favourite toys, a stuffed Kong or similar. Always keep the crate door open, your dog needs to feel they can hide where they feel the safest and that may not always be the place you set up for them. So, give them plenty of hiding spots, without keeping them confined to one room, but ensure there is no way they can escape out of the house as this may leave them in danger.  

Once it goes dark, close windows and curtains, play the radio or TV; these will help to muffle the noise and lights. Remember to ignore the noises of the storms yourself and never punish your pet when or if they become scared.   

There are many calming aids which can help you and your pet get through the stormy seasons 

  • Adaptil diffuser, sprays and collars release a synthetic calming pheromone to help relax your pet
  • Zylkene and Yucalm are good examples of complimentary natural calming treatments you can give by mouth daily to your pet, to help reduce anxiety and stress. Adaptil Express stress relief tablets can be administered as little as 2 hours before the required effect
  • Pet Remedy is a natural product that is available as a spray, diffuser or an infused wipe
  • There are also hugging vests such as Thundershirts. These wearable vests give your pet the feeling of a comforting hug, like swaddling an infant. The shirt applies gentle and constant pressure to calm all types of anxiety, fear and over-excitement issues. Some dogs will respond well to one or a combination of the aids above, but if your pet has severe trouble, speaking to your Vet about a behavioural referral might be worth-while.   

Top tips for cats

Keeping cats indoors when you know a storm is due is advisable. For cats that spend most of their time outdoors, remember to plan with the availability of litter trays. It is also important to monitor your cat is passing urine and faeces as normal in these circumstances as outdoor cats kept indoors can experience difficulties with these due to further stress.   

Cats can become quite skittish if alarmed so for their own safety, keep indoors and ensure cat flaps etc are locked so they cannot escape outside and onto a road if spooked. Give them plenty of hiding spots, place cardboard boxes with a blanket in in quiet areas of your home. If your cat prefers to hide under the bed for example, leave them be. Trying to control where they hide will cause more stress, so do not confine them to one room, but allow them to choose where they feel the safest. Keep windows and curtains closed once a storm is underway, and ensure your pet is microchipped with details up to date, just in case. There are many complimentary calming aids available for cats such as:  

  • Feliway diffusers and sprays -  they release a calming pheromone to help relax and calm your cat. Remember to use the diffusers in an area they spend most time in and away from radiators. Sprays can be used on bedding or scratching towers where they spend their time.  
  • Pet Remedy - a natural calming aid that’s uses Valarian and is available in different forms
  • Zylkene and Yucalm - good examples of natural calming agents given daily by mouth or in food and can be used alone or in conjunction with another mode of calming such as Feliway.   

If you are at all concerned about your pet and you're an Agria Pet Insurance policy holder, download the Agria Vet Guide for free veterinary support.

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