ATLANTA — As metro-Atlanta prepares for the possibility of severe weather, pet owners will deal with the possibility that their animals will go crazy before the first crack of thunder.
Dogs bark. Cats hide. The anxiety can get so bad that your pet may chew on furniture and even claw through the drywall.
“Sometimes, what is a normal fear can grow into a phobia,” says Dr. Leticia Dantas of the University of Georgia’s College of Veterinary Medicine.
Wind, thunder, and a drop in barometric pressure all contribute to a pet’s displeasure. Dr. Leticia Dantas points out that humans and our pets react to loud, unexpected noises with some level of fear. Both human and animal brains produce hormones that help us cope with that fear. It’s all natural to humans, but not our pets.
“What they don’t have is the understanding of why this going on, why is this happening to my body,” says Dr. Dantas. “They just know all of a sudden they feel really bad. They feel distressed.”
Dogs may react by barking aggressively. It may seem brave but it’s really fear. It could begin with one storm then turn into a full-blown case of noise phobia.
“Sometimes they start with storms, then it’s fireworks and light rain and just getting dark,” says Dantas.
Comforting them is okay but sometimes it provides only temporary relief. Your pet might need to see a vet for treatment.
“Management changes to make the animal feel safer in that given situation and behavior therapy,” says Dantas.
Serious cases left untreated can result in your pet harming themselves or possibly doing serious damage to your home.