Milk Maid

Storms give the willies to Pixie the dog

Listening to the rain fall and thunder boom as you sleep is something that I miss during the winter. There is just something kind of comforting about it. It’s comforting until your dog jumps on your bed and scares you silly!

My dogs, Riley and Pixie loathe thunderstorms. Riley’s a Blue Heeler and Pixie is a Rat/Jack Russell Terrier mix.

They also hate gun shots, fireworks, vacuum cleaners, snow blowers, smoke alarms, and just loud noises in general.

They both get anxiety that can be severe. Riley has been known to run away if the noises scare him too much and Pixie will drive you crazy with her restlessness.

To calm them down, there isn’t necessarily a trick for them. Riley is pretty easy though. He needs to be put into the garage attached to the house. He then grabs his blanket and hides under the stairs which is his safe space. I’m still searching for a fix for Pixie.

I’ve tried rubbing essential oils on her and then diffusing some in a diffuser. I’ve tried blaring music and sitting with her in a quiet room. I’ve tried putting both Riley and Pixie in the basement during a storm, but that still hasn’t help with their stress.

Pixie has a special pillow under my bed that she will curl up on only during a storm and that seems to be her safe space. I’ve been told by friends to try a anxiety vest to put on them during storms. Riley will not go for it, but I may have to get one for Pixie.

With the Fourth of July holiday coming up and more storms likely on the horizon, I thought I’d look up some tips for getting animals like mine through the things that stress them out.

Thunder and fireworks are loud, unpredictable and often bring unexpected flashes of light. There are many reasons dogs may have astrophobia, or “thunder phobia,” though. I didn’t realize their was an official name for being scared of thunder.

Astrophobia can affect both humans and animals. Veterinarians aren’t sure what part of a thunderstorm causes fear and anxiety in dogs. As with fireworks, it could be the noise or the flashes of lights. For some, it could be the change in their daily routine. Others have more sensitive hearing.

Some dogs can sense the changes in air pressure or may hear the low-frequency rumblings of thunder long before humans can. This can cause anxiety before the storm even hits, which happens to Pixie. According to some veterinarians, dogs may experience shocks from the build-up of static electricity that accompanies thunderstorms.

If your dog has astrophobia, there are several things you can do to help keep him calm when a storm is on the horizon.

-Create a Safe Space: Give your dog a safe indoor space to go when he’s scared.

-Distract Him: Turn the TV on or play calming music to drown out the noise or play with them.

-Prepare for the Next Storm: Try desensitizing your dog to the sounds of thunder. Play those sounds quietly in the background as you play games or give him treats. Over the course of a few weeks, gradually increase the volume during your play sessions. This will help him associate the sounds of thunderstorms with happy times.

-Talk to Your Veterinarian: Your veterinarian is the best person to talk to when it comes to dogs and thunder.

They may recommend a vest, shirt or wrap that applies light, constant compression. If your dog’s storm anxiety is severe, ask your veterinarian for alternative remedies to help him feel calmer. I think my next step is to get Pixie a compression vest. It will help both her and I sleep better during storms, which I would appreciate.

If you have a dog or two like mine, I wish you luck this week and to give these tips a chance. Between the fireworks festivities and storm chances, it won’t be a howling good time for everyone.

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