Dealing with animal anxiety during thunderstorm season

Loud noises brought about thunderstorms can cause household pet distress.

Bandito the dog.
Bandito the dog at Homeward Animal Shelter resting after playing.
Mike McGurran / WDAY News

FARGO — The sound of thunder, lightning strikes, and pounding rain can cause some people to feel a little anxiety. But did you know that weather anxiety is something that your pet might experience too?

While some of us might enjoy cozying up at home during stormy weather, our pets might feel differently.

"I've heard anywhere from one out of three, or even two out of three pets deal with some type of fear of the loud noises," said Natalie Gruchow, a veterinary practice manager at the Animal Health Clinic in Fargo.

Gruchow said it's something they see all the time. She says the noise can spook your dog. If they're cowering, or barking nonstop, they might be feeling anxious. Cats can experience storm anxiety too, although they show it in different ways.

"Cats might go into hiding, and you don't really think much of it," Gruchow said. "But if your cat disappears when it's when it's storming out, they're probably terrified."


Many animals at Homeward Animal Shelter in Fargo deal with weather stress. Operations manager Heather Clyde says drowning out unfamiliar sounds with familiar ones often works for them.

"We try to turn up some music and keep it you know, keep the sound at bay with some music, so they can't hear it as much," Clyde said.

Gruchow says white noise can do wonders when helping out petrified pets. She also says if it's a recurring problem, you might want to look into anxiety medication.

Gruchow said one of the most important things to do is simply paying attention to your pet.

"Watching for those signs of you know, body language changes, the cowering, the shaking, trembling," Gruchow said.

Clyde suggests doing whatever you can to make them feel safe.

"Just do your best to comfort them," she said.

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