Pet Behavior

Why Do Dogs Get Anxiety with Thunder?


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Dogs are known for their loyalty, playfulness, and companionship, but just like humans, they can experience anxiety and fear in certain situations. One of the most common sources of anxiety for dogs is thunderstorms. The loud crashes of thunder, accompanied by flashes of lightning, can trigger intense fear and anxiety in many dogs. In this article, we will delve into the reasons why dogs get anxious during thunderstorms, how to recognize the signs of anxiety, and what can be done to help them cope.

What Causes Canine Thunderstorm Anxiety?

The exact cause of why some dogs develop anxiety during thunderstorms isn’t fully understood, but there are several factors believed to contribute to this phobia. Dogs have keen senses, and they can pick up changes in atmospheric pressure, static electricity, and ultrasonic noises that humans can’t detect. Thunderstorms bring a combination of these elements, making the experience overwhelming for some dogs.

Role of Genetics and Past Experiences

Genetics may also play a role in determining a dog’s predisposition to anxiety. If a dog has a parent or close relative with a similar fear, they might be more likely to develop anxiety themselves. Additionally, past negative experiences, such as getting caught outside during a storm or associating thunderstorms with traumatic events, can intensify the fear response.

Noise Sensitivity and Lack of Control

The loud noises associated with thunder, especially the sudden and unpredictable claps of thunder, can trigger a “flight or fight” response in dogs. Dogs might feel trapped and unable to escape the noise, which adds to their anxiety. Their heightened noise sensitivity makes them more susceptible to being startled by sudden crashes, exacerbating their fear.

Understanding Body Language

Signs of Canine Thunderstorm Anxiety

Dogs communicate their feelings primarily through body language. During thunderstorms, you might notice the following signs of anxiety:

  • Trembling or shaking
  • Excessive panting and drooling
  • Pacing and restlessness
  • Seeking shelter or trying to hide
  • Whining or whimpering
  • Destructive behavior
  • Loss of appetite

Helping Your Anxious Pup

Tips for Easing Thunderstorm Anxiety

Creating a Safe Space

Designate a safe and comfortable space within your home where your dog can retreat to during thunderstorms. This could be a cozy corner or a crate covered with blankets to muffle the sound. Familiar scents and comforting items, like their favorite toys or a worn piece of clothing, can also help alleviate anxiety.

Counter-Conditioning Techniques

Counter-conditioning involves changing your dog’s emotional response to thunderstorms through positive associations. Play calming music or engage in fun activities your dog enjoys during mild thunderstorms to create a positive connection. Gradually increase the exposure while ensuring your dog remains relaxed.

Thundershirts and Calming Aids

Thundershirts are specially designed vests that provide gentle, constant pressure to help calm anxious dogs. Calming aids like pheromone diffusers or natural supplements can also have a soothing effect on your dog’s anxiety. Consult your veterinarian before trying any new products.

Professional Help

If your dog’s anxiety is severe, seeking professional help is crucial. Veterinarians and animal behaviorists can provide tailored advice and recommend anti-anxiety medications if necessary. These medications are designed to help manage anxiety and fear, but they should only be used under the guidance of a veterinarian.

Thunderstorm anxiety is a real and distressing issue for many dogs. Understanding the reasons behind this anxiety and employing effective strategies to help your furry friend cope can make a significant difference in their well-being. By providing a safe space, using counter-conditioning techniques, and considering professional assistance when needed, you can support your dog through the challenges of thunderstorm anxiety and create a calmer environment for both of you.


  1. Q: Can all dogs develop thunderstorm anxiety? A: While not all dogs experience thunderstorm anxiety, it is common among breeds with heightened senses or those with past negative experiences during storms.
  2. Q: Can I use over-the-counter anxiety medications for my dog? A: It’s best to consult your veterinarian before administering any medication to your dog. They can recommend appropriate medications based on your dog’s specific needs.
  3. Q: How can I differentiate between mild and severe thunderstorm anxiety? A: Mild anxiety might involve restlessness and panting, while severe anxiety can lead to destructive behavior and excessive trembling.



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