Don't be thunderstruck by your pup's panic: Tips for calm in the storm

Don't be thunderstruck by your pup's panic: Tips for calm in the storm


If it’s summer in Charlotte, you can count on a chance of thunderstorms most every day.

That’s why each afternoon this time of year, Richard Colven starts monitoring the weather radar from his office at Camp Wagging Tails, a highly rated dog boarding and day care center in Cornelius, North Carolina.

“All dogs are sensitive to sudden loud noises,” says Colven, a dog lover who’s owned Camp Wagging Tails with his wife, Mary, since 2005.

This time of year, which is the busiest for the dog boarding business, also happens to be the most likely for severe storms. So when bad weather approaches, he and the dog kennel staff go into “thunderstorm mode” to get his clients — the dogs — as comfortable as possible for the loud noises to come.

Storm anxiety tips

You can do the same, Colven says, if your dog is among the many that are frightened by booming thunder. Here are four ways to calm your pet like the experts do:

1. Be around them. Dogs are comforted by a familiar face amid unfamiliar noise. “That’s comforting to them,” Colven says. “If they see you aren’t upset by it, they will be less troubled,” Colven says.

2. Find an internal spot, such as the basement, to wait out the thunder. The key, Colven says, is locating a spot where there’s “less rattling of glass when the big boomer hits.”

3. Get a Thundershirt, a vest that applies a gentle pressure that has a calming effect on many dogs. “It’s like a straightjacket without arms,” Colven says. “It’s just like swaddling a baby. We’ve had tremendous success with it.”

4. Consider medication such as Composure Chews or Prozac, if the other strategies don't work. “I love to do without meds if possible,” Colven says. “But under a veterinarian’s care, I don’t think drugs are harmful.”

Taking a summer trip without Fido? Three experts offer tips on boarding your pets.

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