Storms send dogs barking mad
WHEN Kelly Price sees the storm clouds gathering, unease sets in as she fears her screen door will be ripped down for the 19th time.
Kelly says her small dog, Harley, is terrified of storms. Harley is six years old and only started to get scared of storms in the past two years.
Kelly said Harley was normally calm and placid, and spent his time outside.
But when a storm comes he transforms into a distressed and alarmed canine.
"In the past six months he has destroyed 18 pet-proof screen doors. He has torn them from their runners," Kelly said.
The Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) said 60% of dogs are terrified of thunder.
The association said anxiety and stress in dogs often results when they were exposed to thunder, causing noise-related phobias.
Dogs such as german shepherds, border collies, hounds, sporting and working dogs are often more susceptible to phobias.
That may be because of their skills and enhanced reactivity causing them to be more likely to respond to thunder.
Dogs are often referred to as having a "sixth sense" because they are sensitive and can respond to air pressure, electrical activity and they can hear much higher and lower frequencies than humans.
That means dogs can predict storms even an hour before they arrive.
Like Harley, common symptoms of noise-related phobias are dilated pupils, ears back, hiding, barking, howling, trembling, drooling, urinating and pacing.
Harley's breathing rate increases and he trembles.
Kelly gave Harley pet-safe herbal medication every day for six weeks as a way to calm him but it has been unsuccessful.
Dr Andrew O'Shea from the AVA said it was important to help your dog cope, not punish it.
"Talk to your vet as soon as possible if these behaviours arise, as they can be dealt with more easily if they're caught early," he said.
A few methods used to help dogs adapt to storms can be playing sound clips of thunder gradually getting louder, rewarding your dog by patting, giving attention, food treats and providing safe havens for them to go in storms.
Keep in mind that rewarding pets when they are scared can encourage their fear of storms, and hinder further progress.
It is also crucial for the owner to act calm as well because dogs can pick up on their owner's behaviour easily and will often react to how you're feeling.
With the storm season approaching make sure your dog is stress free.