Many pet owners will be alerted to an approaching storm through the unusual behaviour exhibited by their loyal cats or dogs rather than a news bulletin or weather website. While not much is known to date about their so-called “sixth sense”, what is certain is that these behaviours are indicative of how terrifying thunderstorms and lightning can be to them.
Dogs can hear four times better than humans and instinctively react to loud and sudden sounds by running away and/or seeking refuge; while storms can arouse anxiety in cats as they too seek the quietest and darkest place to hide.
Lost Dogs’ Home Frank Samways Veterinary Clinic, Dr Caroline Cook who helps treat distressed dogs following storms said pet owners should be aware of the signs distressed animals exhibit.
“Many dogs will have fear responses to loud sounds. They may run under the bed or jump into your lap to seek refuge. Fear however, is very distinct from phobia which can be characterised by an out of proportion reaction to thunderstorms.
“Excessive pacing, panting, whining, restlessness and going great lengths to escape are all signs that your dog may have a phobia.”
Ms Cook said dogs with a phobia often created a lot of destruction trying to escape from or trying to get into their home.
“We see cases of dogs breaking down doors and scaling fences getting themselves into all sorts of trouble – these are dogs in extreme stress.”
With many Melbournians taking to sky gazing last night as thunderstorms rolled over north-western suburbs for over two hours and more predicted this evening and tomorrow, The Lost Dogs’ Home is calling on all pet owners to be mindful of their cats and dogs.
The Lost Dogs’ Home general manager of shelter operations, Sue Conroy said the forecast was bad news for our pets, especially dogs and was crucial pet owners do their best to keep their pets safe and comfortable during the storms.
If you are concerned your pet has a phobia to loud and sudden noises or for further information, speak to your vet or make an appointment at the Frank Samways Veterinary Clinic.
TIPS FOR THUNDERSTORMS
For up to date information on weather go to Bureau of Meterology