Helping Your Pet Handle Severe Weather

Merritt Milam | April 1, 2021

As we’ve experienced recently, severe weather is devastating to families and their property. The destructive power of these storms can also be life-changing for their pets. Whether it’s the anxiety a storm can create or the unexpected loss of shelter and basic necessities – pets suffer, too. Symptoms of canine anxiety include:

• Lowered ears and tail, wide eyes
• Pacing
• Panting and drooling
• Trembling
• Whining or howling
• Hiding
• Involuntary indoor urination
• Destructive behavior or even self-harm (i.e., clawing in an effort to escape, running away)

To help your pet cope with the stress caused by severe weather events, here are a few useful tips to make their experience less traumatic.

The wind howls; the thunder rolls; and the rain comes pouring down. While all part of Mother Nature, these natural phenomena leave many pets panting, shaking, and looking for a safe place to hide. New puppies with limited severe weather experience or pets with a mild case of anxiety might find a simple distraction technique is all that is needed. At the first signs of worsening conditions, try playing a game of fetch or tug-of-war with your pet. Treats also help distract their attention, helping condition them to other things instead of the sounds of bad weather.

Play Dress Up
Pets with a greater level of stress and anxiety during severe weather events may find comfort in being wrapped in a blanket or wearing a close-fitting sweater. ThunderShirts® are a type of clothing that offers a calming solution for pets. Like swaddling an infant, these dress-up options may help your pet feel more safe and secure. They are also helpful for firework noise and travel anxiety.

Find A Safe Place
A storm’s loud noises will often send pets running for cover. Whether it’s under a table or bed, pets will seek a place to avoid the thunder, lightning, and rain. Try setting up their bedding in a small room like a closet or laundry room where the storm’s thunder is muted, and they can’t see the lightning flashes. This was one of our pet’s favorite places any time a storm was in play. Adding the soft sounds of a TV or radio can also help reduce the storm’s noise, providing a calming effect.

For pets who exhibit destructive behavior during a storm or are difficult to handle in their own home environment, boarding your pet might be the best option. With trained staff and the comfort of a safe, confined space, a Wags ‘N Whiskers kennel or suite will provide a choice for your pets. If your pet is already a frequent guest at Wags, the familiarity of the facility can help reduce their stress level.

Those pets who have more difficulty managing their stress and anxiety as a result of severe weather, may need a veterinarian’s intervention. Your vet can design an effective medication plan. Sedatives may help them sleep through the storm. Antidepressants can help relieve anxiety and be paired with behavior modification training during the storm. While some pet parents view medication as a little uncomfortable, it may be the answer if your pet’s stress and anxiety levels are severe enough. Always consult your veterinarian for the best medical treatment option for your “best” furry friend.

One More “Important” Thing
Pets with a strong fear of storms will often bolt from their home if given the chance. They don’t fully understand that they are in a safe place and instead only feel they need to get away. Many pets become separated from their families and injured as a result of severe weather events. Microchipping your pet will give you the best chance of being reunited with them should they run away.

Recent severe weather events in our state left many of our neighbors with the need for shelter and basic necessities. It also created a difficult situation for families whose pets have no place to stay while the parents repair or rebuild their homes. Wags is offering free boarding for displaced pets as a result of the tornado damage. Free boarding will be provided for the foreseeable future until further notice.

We are also collecting new or gently used donations for families in need of basic items. If you would like to contribute any of the following items below, we will be accepting donations at our Homewood location.

Thank you for supporting our neighbors and their pets in their time of need.


The Wags Family