Last Modified on Jul 16, 2014
Natural Remedies to Help Terrified Dogs During Thunderstorms
For dogs, thunderstorm anxiety (astraphobia) can be almost a given, at least when they're puppies. Fortunately, a few pet care tips can help you get your dog accustomed to the idea of thunderstorms, and even if your adult dog still has a thunderstorm phobia.
Homeopathy for dogs is one potential solution. Gelsemium is a great homeopathic remedy for pets that will help to alleviate their fear or uneasiness when they are anticipating a certain type of event. It's great for thunderstorm phobia in dogs, but this treatment can also be used after a frightening experience in those cases where your pet is showing signs of being lethargic or is shaky as a result of what happened, or just for dogs with anxiety in general.
Thunderstorm Anxiety Remedies
Other home remedies for your dog's storm-related anxiety include a so-called thunder jacket for dogs or thunder shirt, which is simply a snug-fitting garment that "hugs" your pet in a way that calms its anxiety. The concept has clinical acceptance in pets and people too and is similar to swaddling in babies. Flower remedies and soothing scents are among other natural options to soothe and end your dog's thunderstorm phobia.
[YEA] 07/17/2006: Pat from Broadalbin, NY: "I tried everything for my black lab. Nothing seemed to work. I got really concerned for her when I came home from work to find she had dug her way through a bedroom door and was almost through an exterior door. With bloody paws I took her to our vet, who really doesn't like to give drugs if there is an alternative, who told me about Rescue Remedy. He advised that I give her 1 full dropper, because of her size and extreme fear, directly on her tongue at the first indication she is getting fearful. She has been doing this for about a year now and she still doesn't like storms but she tolerates them 1000 times better now. No digging, no wetting herself, no pacing. She will now sit semi-calmly, just panting, beside me. You can get it at GNC, it is definitely worth it. It is really for people and I am told it works great for anyone with a fear of flying too."
[YEA] 04/20/2006: MJ from NY, NY: "I had a dog that would literally /freak out/ during thunderstorms. She would try to climb on anything and everything. I lost two television sets, many many pieces of sculpture and figurines and the list just goes on and on. Of course, my dog was worth a lot more than all of those combined. A nurse friend recommended The Bach Rescue Remedy. I put it in her water during a thunderstorm and also gave her a drop on her tongue, during the storm. It does not work instantly. This takes time, but over time and I mean years, it does work. She finally got to the point that she would just pant and lie there. Yes, she was still upset, but no way near the way she was before I started giving her Rescue. You only need to use during times of stress, I'm not sure, but I wouldn't use it all the time. Anyway, I'd use it only during the storms. That's what I did, because I would think it doesn't work if you use it all the time. If you know it's going to rain or thunder that day, leave it in the water bowl. Just a drop! Good luck!!"
[YEA] 09/20/2006: Vince from Philadelphia: "Like I was thinking with your guy. I would put a leash on him when I heard a storm coming so you could keep him close, and work with him, looking to see what will work. I am positive there is a cure, you may have to figure it out.
With Diablo after the fireworks scare, which may have been the start of his fears, but his digestive problems seemed to be a cause, he would react in fear to Something New on Every walk. I mean the strangest things... Flashing lights, loud mufflers, trash cans, a white van, flags or overhead banners flapping, a wire strung from 2 buildings, and if we went under them he would go down to the ground, and each time I would talk to him, or rub him if we were sitting or stopped, but the next walk it would be something new. I was really getting tired of talking and started singing, and was thinking of a button activated tape player or chip like an answering machine has, with my voice recorded, so I could push the button and it would play, since him hearing my voice calmed him. Many have had to get used to all the noises and numbers of people they were seeing in a big city, but it usually didn't take long, and I could desensitize them. My last 2 were spooked by sunlight reflecting off car windshields that would cause a moving reflection inside the room. Me working a flashlight and doing my thing with them cured that fairly fast. A bit harder because they didn't realize that I was causing the light far from me.
Believe me, there is always a cure."
[YEA] 05/15/2010: Paula from Asheville, Nc: "My dog Sampson is a lab/hound mix, who is very afraid of thunderstorms and loud noises, such as fireworks and gun shot. During a thunderstorm, his whole body shakes, he pants, whines and paces from room to room. He tries to hide in closets and the bathtub. I have tried many different remedies, including Dog Appeasing Pheromones. After being up all night trying to calm him down, during a severe thunderstorm, I was at my wits end. I called the vet to ask for tranqulizers. The vet suggested I try giving him Melatonin. I give him one, 3mg Melatonin before a thunderstorm and he sleeps right through it. It is amazing!!"Replies
08/23/2010: Paula from Southampton, England replies: "Hi, I have a staffy who is also scared of thunder storms, fireworks, well anything loud really. Where do you get melatonin? My vet gave me Diazepam, but I don't really like giving them to him, only do it when very desperate and can't console him. I also have a gsd, gonna try Apple Cider Vinegar as she keeps getting ear infections and urine infections also bad skin smelly coat."
EC: Hi Paula, Melatonin is sold in all health food stores and some of the larger grocery store chains that carry vitamins.
04/21/2013: Worldover from Atlanta, Ga replies: "My German Shepard Dog (GSD) used to have trouble with skin eruptions, ears & eyes discharge. After switching to a raw diet everthing cleared up. Most maladies stem from ingredients in processed pet food. Even the high priced, grain-free foods did not clear my GSD's problems.
It took about 3 months to clear all of her irritations."
[YEA] 07/16/2014: Kathryn4 from Owings: "My dog used to freak out with being in a crate during thunderstorm. This crate was one of the steel types with bars. Solution: got a soft crate - now he does not hurt himself if I am gone out of the house and he happens to be in there with a thunderstorm."
[YEA] 09/23/2009: Violet from St. Pete, Fl: "Swaddling for thunderstorm anxiety: I recently saw an article about a special coat to put on your dog when they are experiencing anxiety due to a thunderstorm. I think it was called ___. I also saw a video on you tube that was pretty impressive with a shivering, trembling dog calming down completely when wearing the coat.
I tried it on my dog with a home-made version of it, the original costs about $40. I made my own little thing to wrap around my dogs torso and it fastens tightly with velcro. It really did work to calm her down, but not completely. I need to figure out how to wrap it across her front also, like the ____ coat does. Still, I was impressed with the effect I got. The key is to wrap them up real tight, you could probably even just put a tight t-shirt on them."Replies
04/21/2013: Worldover from Atlanta, Ga replies: "Along with the Bach RR, I have also used a large bath towel, wrapping it around my GSD's neck & shoulders. It really calms her down during storms. Thinking of trying a child's t-shirt. The swaddling works the same way it does for human infants, makes them feel secure."
[YEA] 08/03/2013: Jb from Atlanta, Ga replies: "UPDATE on Swaddling: Since wrapping the towel around my Girl's neck helped, I went to Goodwill & bought a child's sport shirt. It was an Old Navy, spandex knit shirt. WORKS like a charm! My Girl calms down so much now. Still doesn't like storms but, is so much calmer. Cost was $3. Much better than $40 for Thunder Shirt & less complicated to put on & take off."
[NAY] 08/09/2013: Js from Coloma replies: "I went out and bought a thundershirt for our dog. She has an issue with loud noises and lately the t.v. Anyway, the pet store said if it didn't work to bring it back for a full refund. My husband and I were so excited to try it(on the dog of course)..... It hasn't really worked. Since the shirt you tried worked so well, I'm wondering if we did something wrong or if it just isn't going to work for our dog. Any suggestions?"
07/02/2014: Theresa from Mpls, Mn: "Consider a thunder shirt or wrap style shirt for your pet to help keep him calm and reduce stress during a noisy celebration."