Why are Dogs Scared of Thunder?

We’ve all been there. The eerie stillness. That “thunderstorm smell” that starts wafting through the windows in the hours prior. The grey sky that makes 3 in the afternoon look like 8pm, but fido is nowhere to be found. We like to poke fun at the fact that our dogs are so afraid of thunder, but the actual reasoning goes a lot deeper than their lack of understanding. Sure, that plays a part in it, but there’s a lot more that can influence your dogs reaction to acts of nature or even loud noises around the house. In this article, we hope to clear any and all of those questions up for you. It is a little funny and cute to see them snuggle up when the lightning flashes, but being able to soothe our dogs when they’re frightened or, ideally, prepare them for impending storms so that they aren’t bothered when the “booming” begins.

Why are Dogs Scared of Thunder?

Why Are Dogs Scared of Thunder?

Is it that dogs are scared of the thunder itself or the noises and changes in atmosphere around them? Dogs and cats are creatures of habit. Anxiety or fear can fester out of nowhere if even the slightest change is made to their daily routine. We’ve heard tales of dogs or cats refusing to leave the safe-space under a bed after the living room was rearranged. While thunder and lightning isn’t the same as you changing up couch positions, it does all stem from the same source. Some type of anxiety. The same kind of anxiety that sends them running for the hills when you fire up the vacuum or drop a heavy object on the floor. We like to believe that our dogs understand what we mean when we use certain words, but at the end of the day they are animals and don’t fully understand their environments. We’re going to take the next few paragraphs to break down the elements of a storm and why or how it might be a key factor in frightening your pup.


The Noise


Dogs can hear on a level that puts our own senses to shame. It’s “funny” or cute to watch them run to our laps or under the coffee table when a storm starts howling or when the 4th of July finale happens, but those loud noises are (basically) torture to a dog. Have you ever been to an airshow or at an airport when a 747 is landing? That high pitched frequency that makes our ears ring and our brain shake is round 130 to 140 decibeles (db). A volume that is so loud that it actually boasts a name: “The Threshold of Pain”. The higher frequencies that accompany those louder sounds are what make the difference. Humans hear on a lower frequency of hearing and we can actually hear them better than our canine counterparts, but their hearing puts us to absolute shame on the higher frequency end. So, in actuality, your dog isn’t “afraid” of those fireworks or thunder cracks, but more frightened by the possible pain accompanying it and looking to escape it in some way. Let’s be clear, this isn’t a pain that is actually injuring your dog, but more so loud that it rings their ears so intensely that it frightens them, because they don’t understand it. They have lived for hundreds of thousands of years, so you’d think they’d be used to it by now.


How To Calm Your Dog During A Thunderstorm


You’ve seen your dog book-it to the other room when the rumbling starts. You have let out the “awe, baby” sigh and rushed to their comfort when they’re cowering in the corner, but what else can you do to calm your fur-baby when they get so incredibly frightened during this random act of nature. The first and arguably the most important precaution to take is to be at home with them during a storm. If you can. When it comes to canine anxiety, or any anxiety for that matter, the worst thing for them is being left alone. Most dogs can develop anxiety upon you leaving for the day. It’s the change of routine or environment which can lead to this type of fear and having the most important person in their lives, you, be home to calm them and reassure them that they are safe will make all the difference in the world to them. Obviously life happens and you can’t rearrange your life to be home whenever a thunderstorm hits, but even something as little as leaving a TV or radio on can give them that illusion of comfort that they are looking for.


Another tactic you can try to soothe your frightened doggy is creating distractions or a place of calmness for them. If they see that you are not scared and if you are taking the attention away from the noise, they may begin to overlook it and, over time, even become immune to it in the future. Some ideas for creating that calm atmosphere are initiating a play time, bribing them with treats, offering a safer space in a bedroom or windowless area of the home where they can focus on their favourite toy or blanket. Doing this will help to distract them from the noise and soothe their anxiety. To assist in creating this sense of calming, try a few drops of CBD. CBD treats and tinctures are a perfect weapon in the fight against anxiety and will calm your pet during times of stress. If you know a thunderstorm is approaching, adding a recommended number of drops to their food, mouth or water will begin to work at easing their anxiety in 20-40 minutes.

Anxiety in Dogs

A dog being afraid of a thunderstorm could be a sign of another underlying issue: Anxiety. Anxiety in dogs is a very common affliction and affects breeds like Cocker Spaniels, Chihuahuas, Retrievers and Border Collies the most. Smaller dogs are more prone to it and for good reason. You’d be anxious too if you were the smallest one in the room. It usually presents itself through barking, pacing, drooling, urinating in the house and other symptoms. Find out more about anxiety in dogs here. If your dog is afraid of thunder and shows any of these symptoms, it could be an indicator of canine anxiety and require special treatment to be eased. CBD is known for a few main benefits: Pain, Inflammation and Anxiety. CBD’s ability to calm is one of the more focused on points of the substance. Because it works.


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We are pet parents. We worry about our fur babies and get upset when we see they are uncomfortable, in pain or scared. We want to do anything and everything in our power to try and alleviate the problem, but sometimes those problems are completely out of our control. An act of nature is one of those problems. The common joke is that dogs hate thunder, are afraid of thunder and run from our hair dryers and vacuums, but the reasoning for it goes much deeper than “they’re just scared”. Many different factors are at play for what is happening with your dogs. It could be, and most likely is, a lack of understanding what is happening, sounds being too loud and chaotic that they are overwhelming our poop pup senses. But canine anxiety could also be a root cause of why dogs are afraid of thunderstorms. The fact of the matter is that it changes on a case by case basis. The main thing dog wonders can do is create a warm, safe, calm space for their pets. Be around to comfort and reassure them as much as possible. Create distractions to take away from the anxiety or fear that they might be feeling or introduce calming remedies like CBD to help them weather the storm.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

How do you calm a dog down during a thunderstorm?

There are a few different ways you can calm your dog during a thunderstorm: stay home. Being alone will only make the feelings of fear and anxiety worse. Provide distractions like playtime or cuddling. Offer them a safe place to reside until the storm has passed. Give them a calming remedy like CBD to lower anxiety and ease their fright.

Why are dogs scared of rain?

Dogs aren’t afraid of rain, but more the sounds that accompany it. Thunderstorms are loud, sudden, confusing times for animals. They don’t understand what is happening and their sensitive hearing can only make matters worse.

Why are dogs afraid of thunder but cats aren’t?

This isn’t true for the most part. It depends on the pet. Most of the time if a dog is afraid of a thunderstorm, it’s due to the noise or anxiety. Cat’s can fall victim to the same fears, they’re just slightly better at hiding it because they don’t search out their owners for comfort. 

Can dogs sense thunderstorms?

In a way, yes. They don’t sense the storm itself, but more a change in temperature and pressure. If a dog is easily frightened by a thunderstorm, sensing it nearing could lead to heightened anxiety once they correlate the changes in pressure and smells with the approaching storm. 



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