Arizona Humane Society Wants To Help Pets Weather The Storm This Monsoon Season
PHOENIX (June 11, 2023) – Monsoon Safety Awareness Week is June 11-17 and the Arizona Humane Society (AHS) is reminding pet owners that there can be an increase in injuries and animals escaping from homes and yards when a pet’s sensitivity to storms results in intense fear. It can also take a toll on the pet’s human family too, both emotionally and physically, by seeing their pet in distress or losing sleep at night while managing an anxious pet.
Storm phobia may be caused by a change in barometric pressure or an increase in static electricity in the air. A pet may be fearful of visual cues such as lightning, wind or blowing leaves and dirt. Auditory cues such as rain and thunder may create anxiety for a pet, as well. Storm phobia is one of the most common phobias in dogs and cats and may present as general anxiety, whining and barking, hiding, house soiling or destructive behavior.
The Arizona Humane Society Behavior and Training Team recommends the following tips:
- Never punish pets for showing fearful or anxious behavior. Act calm and interact with them like you usually would to show them a storm is “no big deal.”
- Create positive associations with storms by giving their favorite treats, toys and verbal praise for calm behavior during a storm. Start as early as possible during puppy and kittenhood and continue reinforcing this throughout their lives. Some pets may be unaffected for years and then develop storm anxiety symptoms.
- Better yet, desensitize pets to storms by playing a thunderstorm CD or music tracks found online at low volume during happy times, like eating and playing. Gradually increase the volume over time.
- Create a safe space. It could be a crate or a closet. Ensure proper ventilation and access to their space when you’re not home.
- Tire them out. Use obedience classes and daily exercise to help reduce anxiety.
- Drown out the noise by turning on the TV or radio and bathroom fans. Some pets will take comfort in repetitive, familiar sounds like dishwashers or washing machines.
- Reduce the effect of lightning flashes by closing blinds and turning inside and outside lights on.
- Use calming tools like a Thundershirt (pictured) or pheromones (available for dogs and cats).
- Always consult with your veterinarian or behaviorist. Some pets have such severe anxiety that medication is needed to keep them safe.
- Make sure your pet is microchipped, wearing a collar and is kept indoors. If they must go outside to potty, attach a harness and leash and go out with them.
AHS offers in-person, private and virtual behavior training courses, for more information visit azhumane.org/training.
If your pet goes missing this summer or you find a lost pet, visit azhumane.org/lostpet for tips on helping get them back home.