101 1716 50 Avenue

Lloydminster, Alberta T9V-0Y1 Canada

(780) 872-7387

Open mobile navigation

Thunderstorm Anxiety

Things That Go Ka-boom! in the Night

Due to the positive feedback that our ‘Tick Talk’ series generated, we opted to continue writing informative articles for your enjoyment! Due to the increasing number of storms we will see in the next few months today our discussion will center on thunderstorm phobias, although a lot of this information can be extrapolated to pets that fear fireworks, gun shots and other loud sudden noises.

It always amazes me how pets know a storm is coming far before we can detect the upcoming change in weather. There are several theories about why this is, the combination of wind, thunder, lightening, barometric changes, low frequency rumbles that the human ear can’t detect, and static electricity can combine to overwhelm some pets and they become fearful. The behavior of the owner will also directly affect the dog; some dogs learn to be afraid of storms because their owner reacts fearfully to them. Herding dogs (like collies) and dogs with separation anxiety are predisposed to having a storm phobia, and older pets will develop the phobia as the years pass, and it frequently gets worse as each stormy season passes.

There is no easy fix for situations like this, but we can certainly talk about some changes to be made that will make your pet less anxious, and may eventually train them to be calm when a storm does appear.

 1. Reward calm behavior.

This is something that needs to be done year round, as the times when it’s not storming will be the easiest time to work on changing your pet’s emotional state about storms by teaching an alternative behavior. It is critical to not try to console a pet that’s frightened, vocalizing and climbing onto you, as that will encourage the fearful/panicky behavior. You also should not, under any circumstances scold your dog or punish them, as that will also increase their fear. When a pet is feeling anxious/fearful and receives a punishment they then think that they were correct to be fearful as something bad happened to them in the situation.

Instead, you want to teach your dog how to settle on command. One of the most effective ways to do this is to have an inside leash/tether that you use and then get your pet to lie down on a specified area like a rug, kennel or bed. It helps to have this placed in a location where your pet instinctively retreats to when it’s anxious. Then, praise the calm behavior, give treats for calm behavior, or consider using a food puzzle to keep the pet busy and calm in that location. By making this a habit when the weather is calm will give your pet the habit it needs to that when it is storming you can place your pet in the location it regularly spends calm time, and it will know the routine, which will help your dog settle. Your goal is to change how the pet feels about the storm. You want to replace the fear/anxiety with something positive (food and praise for appropriate behaviors).

 2.Set up a place where your pet can find refuge when it is storming.

Note where your pet goes during periods of fear/anxiety and set them up a safe haven in that location. These areas often are the most successful in places like basements or bathrooms, as the pet can’t see/hear the storm as much. Allow the pet to come and go freely from the place of refuge, as locking them in can increase their anxiety. In the ‘safe place’ put a comfortable resting place, play Through a Dog’s Ear, classical music or use a white noise machine to decrease the sounds of the storm and cover any windows. This will reduce the stimulus and therefore the anxiety your pet feels.

Through a Dog’s Ear (http://throughadogsear.com/)

3.Use over the counter tools that help reduce anxiety.

There are many of these tools that have different levels of efficacy for individual pets.

a)Thundershirts – these are snug fitting shirts that have been shown to decrease anxiety, much like swaddling a baby.


b)DAP – this is a pheromone that has been shown to level out emotional moods and can decrease anxiety and the behaviors associated with anxiety. Your pet can wear it as a body heat activated collar, or it can be plugged in as a diffuser in your house.


c)Zylkene – this is a casein tablet that has calming properties that promotes and enhances relaxed behavior.


d)Calm food – talk to your veterinarian about a specific food recommendation for your pet, as it’s not right for every pet. This food is research based and contains tryptophan and casein, both of which help to maintain emotional balance and enhance relaxed behavior.

 Cats: http://www.royalcanin.ca/index.php/Veterinary-Products/Feline-Nutrition/Veterinary-Therapeutic-Formulas/Calm-Dry

Dogs: http://www.royalcanin.ca/index.php/Veterinary-Products/Canine-Nutrition/Veterinary-Therapeutic-Formulas/Calm-Dry

Speak to a veterinarian about which of these options could be best for your individual situation, and often we recommend using more than one of these concurrently. It may take some trial and error to find out which works best for your pet as each one responds differently to the products.

4. Desensitization

You can play a CD of thunder recordings at low enough levels so it won’t frighten your dog, while giving him treats, a puzzle toy or playing a game. Over the course of several months you can gradually increase the volume, stopping if your dog shows any signs of anxiety. This sort of desensitization can have limited success because you can only recreate the noise, and not the other factors that may be bothering the dog, such as the static electricity or changes in barometric pressure, however it will help somewhat if done properly. The goal of desensitization in this manner is to replace the fear/anxiety your pet feels when hearing the sounds of a storm with a positive association.

Sound Proof Puppy Training App: https://itunes.apple.com/ca/app/sound-proof-puppy-training/id700513321?mt=8 

In conclusion, there are many things that can and should be done for pets that have anxiety with loud/sudden noises. Make sure to contact your veterinarian about your specific situation so that a plan can be made for you and your pet. Don’t give up, it will take time and persistence, but you can help your pet feel more comfortable when things are going ka-boom! in the night!

Pet emergency? Call us right away at 780-872-7387! 

Welcome to the Southside Veterinary Clinic! We offer a comfortable and home-like atmosphere to welcome you and your pet. We are a full service, small animal clinic, dedicated to the health of your dogs, cats, and other wonderful pets. 

To allow us to serve you better, we ask that you phone us at 780-872-PETS (7387) or click on the "Request Appointment" link above to make an appointment for your pets prior to coming in.  This helps us ensure that there is a veterinarian available to help you without delay. If it is an emergency during business hours, if possible please call to let us know that you are on your way into the clinic and the nature of the emergency. We may need to prepare for your arrival or direct you to our partner clinic, Lloydminster Animal Hospital, for further diagnostics, treatment or intensive care. Our goal is to provide your pet with the best possible care! 

Should you have an emergency or require veterinary care outside of regular hours, you can reach an on-call veterinarian 24 hours daily by calling Southside Veterinary Clinic.

**All after hours calls will be seen at Lloydminster Animal Hospital.

That hospital is located at 6002 50th Avenue, Lloydminster, AB.

Business Hours

Our Regular Schedule


9:00 am

6:00 pm


9:00 am

6:00 pm


9:00 am

6:00 pm


10:0 am

7:00 pm


9:00 am

6:00 pm


9:00 am

3:00 pm





Find us on the map


Featured Articles

Read about interesting topics

  • Lost Pets

    Has your pet wriggled their way through the fence or dashed out the front door? When searching for your lost pet, make sure you include these steps in your hunt. ...

    Read More
  • Should You Leave Your Cat Alone for a Long Weekend?

    So you have a trip planned for the weekend, but what should you do with your cat? Learn how to best care for your cat while you're away. ...

    Read More
  • Flea and Tick Season

    Want to protect your pet from fleas and ticks? These tips can help. ...

    Read More
  • Summer Grooming Tips

    Want to keep your pet cool and comfortable this summer? A few changes to your normal grooming routine can help. ...

    Read More
  • What to Do If Your Pet is Stung

    Don't get us wrong, we love the bees! But we don't love when our pets get stung. Follow our tips to treat and prevent bee stings on your furry best friend. ...

    Read More
  • Tips for Traveling With Your Pet

    Do you dread hitting the road with your pet? These tips may make the trip more comfortable and enjoyable for you both. ...

    Read More
  • 6 Questions to Ask At Your Senior Pet's Next Check Up

    Want to keep your senior pet healthy and happy? Ask these six questions at your pet's next check up. ...

    Read More
  • Why the Controversy About Pet Vaccinations?

    As with anything, pet vaccinations can be too much of a good thing. Similar to parents who are learning more about vaccinations for children, veterinarians and pet owners alike are beginning to question some of the standard wisdom when it comes to protecting pets. There are certain fatal diseases against ...

    Read More
  • Pet Clothes: A Fashion Statement or a Necessity?

    There is nothing cuter than a pet in a colorful sweater, but do our furry friends really need to wear clothing? Although clothing is not a necessity for every pet, some animals benefit from a little extra protection during cold or damp days. Others enjoy wearing festive clothing during holidays or other ...

    Read More
  • Introducing a New Pet to Your Current Ones

    Pet Proofing Your Home Introducing your new pet to your current one is only a single part of the equation relating to taking a new pet home. You also have to make sure your new pet is comfortable in your home, which is a foreign environment to the animal. Like humans, animals can experience high levels ...

    Read More

Newsletter Signup

Sign up for more articles