Thunder and dogs | Dogs Trust

Dogs Trust

Thunder and dogs

Before the storm:

  • Positive ions increase significantly in the air several hours before a storm; this can lead to a release of the hormone serotonin, which can cause feelings of tension, irritability, depression and headaches in dogs
  • Dogs with a fear of fireworks often associate dark skies with loud noises and bright flashes: the darkening skies before a storm may reveal to a dog that loud noises and flashes are about to happen
  • Wind and rain may also indicate that loud noises and bright flashes are coming, as these too are usually associated with thunderstorms
  • Other visual cues may be people carrying umbrellas

During the storm:

  • As with other noise fears, the unpredictable nature of thunder and lightning storms can lead to dogs showing fearful/avoidant behaviours
  • Dogs don’t understand where these unexpected noises are coming from, and this can add to their fear and anxiety.

How you can help your dog:

  • Make sure home and garden are secure
  • Give your dog options – a safe, cosy den to hide in (and let him hide if he wants to and for as long as he wants to) or play games and distract with chews etc. Giving your dog a choice helps to make him feel safer.
  • Don’t be afraid to comfort or reassure – you can’t make him any more frightened by doing so and it might make him really confused if you ignore him, as you wouldn’t normally!
  • Never force your dog to go for a walk if they’re worried – they might be feeling the oncoming storm way before you notice it!
  • Think about shutting the curtains and leaving lights on, even during the daytime, to block out flashing (lightning) and playing the radio to help reduce/muffle noise.

You'll find our firework advice here.