Anxiety in cats and dogs during thunderstorms and how to help them get through it with natural products.
Natural Ways To Help Dogs & Cats During A Thunderstorm
Warmer weather is approaching and with that brings thunderstorms. For our pets, it can be a pretty terrifying experience. Just imagine the sensory overload a pet can have during a thunderstorm. Our pets are so intuitive that they feel the drop in barometric pressure (often before we can) which is when the beginning of anxiety can start for our pets. They may notice the shadowing and darkness of the clouds rolling in. The sound of the wind and rain and then BAM! Clashing thunder and the flash of lightning.
It is only fitting that as I write this blog it is raining and next to me lays a completely unphased pup. I should probably add that it hasn’t always been that way and every storm and situation presents a whole different reaction. Although I myself enjoy a good storm, unfortunately, I share my home and love with a dog that is terrified by them. Jack is about 12 years old and we noticed at around a year old, he started to become fairly sensitive to loud noises. As the years went on, I learned more about his anxiety and noticed it actually had progressed to the anticipation of a storm. The simple rustling of leaves or the light sound of rain on our aluminum awning would cause him to tremble. Years of prescription medication and a few visits with a behavioral doctor and we were no closer to helping him and in fact, the anxiety only seemed to get worse as time went on. Thankfully, we have found a few ways to help him during storms.
Signs Of Thunderstorm Anxiety In Cats & Dogs
For Jack it is fairly obvious he starts by trembling and begins to pant. His posture becomes crouched and his tail tucked between his legs as he paces the room. Other signs of anxiety may be drooling, hiding, inappropriate elimination, restlessness, excessive barking, and even destructive behavior.
Natural Ways To Help Thunderstorm Anxiety In Pets
Jack is on two daily supplements that help his anxiety:
We started him on Pet Releaf CBD oil several years ago to help with some inflammation he has from arthritis. While it works well for his arthritis, we also saw some positive changes in his anxiety levels. CBD oil works with the body's endocannabinoid system that can be found throughout the nervous system, organs, and brain. CBD oil helps with anxiety by stimulating the body’s ability to create serotonin, a natural mood stabilizer. Pet Releaf also makes a great line of Edibite treats as well. For best results, I suggest the oil but we also love to supplement the treats. Additionally, we use Herbsmith Calm Shen powder as a daily supplement. If the powder isn’t the best form for your pup, it also comes in tablet form. Calm Shen has a unique blend of twelve herbs that help to maintain a normal and relaxed disposition.
Additional products that we use for situational anxiety like thunderstorms and fireworks are:
These two products have similar ingredients. I would choose one or the other to add onto a supplement routine to help with situational anxiety. I keep both of them on hand when I know Jack needs something a bit more than his daily routine. The calming herb valerian is found in both of these supplements. Valerian is known as a fast-acting nervine herb and promotes the brain to release a calming chemical, gamma-aminobutyric acid. This then allows your pet to relax even during the loud clapping of thunder.
Animal Essentials Tranquility Blend is a liquid blend that can be administered directly into the mouth. For maximum absorption, it is best to give on an empty stomach. If that is not possible it can be added to food. When possible I like to give a dose to Jack before the storm arrives to allow him to be relaxed. Anticipating the onset of a storm is not always possible. Sometimes Jack knows a storm is approaching before I do. In those cases, we are grateful that Animal Essentials Tranquility Blend is fast-acting. In addition to valerian, other active ingredients in this blend are skullcap herb, passionflower herb, and oat flowering tops.
Herbsmith July Third is very similar to Animal Essentials Tranquility Blend and gives us the same desired results. What I love about Herbsmith July Third is that it comes in a very easy and palatable chew. When giving this supplement I like to anticipate the storm and give a dose prior to the storm's arrival. The active ingredients in this supplement are valerian, chamomile, thiamine, l-tryptophan, and passionflower. We have had pet parents tell us that within 30 minutes of taking the supplement for anxiety that their dog has been able to relax while eliminating the panting and pacing that comes with the anxiety territory.
Some additional products that help with anxiety include:
- AromaDog’s aromatherapy line
- Stella & Chewy’s Hemp Oil Chews
- Colorado Hemp Honey
- Holistic Hound (Hemp oil and treats)
- Earth Animal Calm Down
- Dr. Harvey’s Relax
Animals Need A Safe Place During Thunderstorms
We all want our pets to feel safe and cozy. When they are experiencing anxiety this can be difficult and so it is even more important to create an area that makes them feel safe. For some dogs, this may be a crate, a closet, under a table or blanket. For my dog Jack it happens to be the bathroom. What I like to do is make sure this area is as cozy as possible by including a comfy bed and a favorite toy or chew. At The Pet Beastro, there are some great dog beds and blankets to choose from to create a safe space. If you have a pet that likes to burrow in blankets my favorite items are the Distinctly Himalayan Pet Caves and the snuggle beds by P.L.A.Y.
Natural Activities To Help Pets During A Thunderstorm
If your dog is food or treat motivated this may be a game-changer. I like to create a food puzzle for mental stimulation or give a chew during or in preparation for a storm. Chewing can be great to alleviate stress naturally. Chewing has a calming effect on the adrenal-pituitary axis in the brain that triggers the release of endorphins. This is a way for a dog to self soothe during moments of anxiety. We have a large selection of interactive toys and chews to keep your dog busy. Some great interactive toys are:
These can be made into some fun and time-consuming distractions by stuffing with treats, food, and longer-lasting chews like bully sticks. Other chews we love are:
- Barking Buddha Beef Cheeks (Say that 3 times fast!)
- Bully Sticks
- Himalayan Dog Chews
- Steve’s, Primal, or Tuckers marrow bones
- Earth Animal No-Hide Chews
- Buffalo Horns
- Moose Antlers
Not every dog is the same and because of this, The Pet Beastro offers a large variety of natural products to help your dog with anxiety. If you need help selecting the right product for your dog feel free to contact us and talk to a staff member to discuss what would work best for your pet's specific needs. In some cases, multiple products may create the best solution for your pet's anxiety.