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Pets in panic, helping them through storms

8:43 AM, Apr 27, 2011   |    comments
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  • Clarkston resident Becky Rentz said her Lab knew right where to go when the storm hit. (Courtesy Becky Rentz)
  • "Our dog hides when bad weather is on it's way,and his favorite hide-out spot is in our closet, in one of our laundry baskets, full of DIRTY clothes...Oh, and he's a 95 pound hound mix."
  • "Our cats, Kingfish and Spooky, do not sit together; however, during a storm, especially if they hear thunder, they snuggle and comfort each other in a favorite chair until the storm passes."
  • "Baxter is my six year old havanese and he's terrified of storms." Linda Sand
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ATLANTA -- Your cat, dog, maybe even your bird is going nuts! You don't know what is going wrong until suddenly you notice the blue sky has suddenly grown dark.  A storm is coming from nowhere.  Somehow your pet had a clue before you did.

Many pet owners will tell you, their dogs and cats can do some pretty strange things when they're stressed by severe weather.  "A lot of them can hurt themselves," Dr. Shannon South, a veterinarian at the Briarcliff Animal Clinic said Monday. "I've seen dogs jump through windows.  I've seen them going missing for a couple of weeks at a time."

Dr. South said dog's habits can be changed, if they're young.  "Try to redirect their activity.  Get them to play. Make the storm a good experience," she advised pet owners.

But it's harder to teach older dogs new habits and it may take medication to get them through a storm, Dr. South said. "By medication I mean prescription medication that your Vet can prescribe for your dog because there are some underlying conditions where they might not be able to take a certain medicine."

Dr. South said pet owners can also try a Thunder Shirt or Thunder Vest to help calm dogs during severe weather.  It's a jacket that wraps around your dog with Velcro. "The thought is that it puts pressure around their chest," she said.  "Pressure is kind of a comforting thing for animals."

Dr. South said some people believe animals can sense barometric pressure, which could explain why animals react long before a storm hits.

Do you think it's possible animals have a sixth sense about the weather?  Do you find yourself spending hours calming your pet down before, during and after a storm?  We would love to hear your stories, even see your pictures. Email us at

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