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renkma April 18th, 2013 09:21 AM

Thunder Phobia Dog
I have read through the other threads on this topic, but because the questions I want to put out there isn't on how to fix or cure my dog's phobia, but on the effects of phobias like this, I thought it would be OK to start a new thread.

My girl Honey is a 13 year old Brittany Spaniel. She has always been a bit of a nervous girl, but mostly spunky and happy. She went 10 years without caring about storms or rain, but when I married and my husband and I blended our dog families, his German Sheppherd's VERY slight thunder bark (he wasn't phobic, just barked after every thunder rumble - and his bark was massive) caused my Honey to become frightened. That wonderful big dog passed two years ago, but Honey's fright remains. She is now diagnosed with a pretty serious phobia.

When thunder happens, she starts to shake REALLY HORRIBLE and pant REALLY HEAVILY. She is restless and can't calm down. And this panic goes on and on until at least a hour or two AFTER the storm has passed - and she stays on edge and very alert for 12 to 24 hours afterward. She wants to run, but there is no where to go so she ends up sitting somewhere and just shaking and panting. It get's so bad that I become terrified that she will have a heart attack. My vet assures me that the odds of that happening are beyond slim - that her health is good and her heart is healthy. I also worry about dehydration because she won't drink until the storm is over - and for example - last night the storms started at 9PM and didn't stop until 3AM. Her tongue was huge from panting - like a soup ladle. When she did drink - she wouldn't stop. We had to take the water away just to make her slow down, and give her sips every few minutes for a half an hour.

We have tried a safe-room/crate with a blanket over the top and her toys - doesn't help - she doesn't want to be anywhere confined (even though the crate door is wide open). We have tried a special yummy smelly chew that she LOVES to distract and busy her, but it doesn't help - she doesn't want it. We have tried consoling and holding her - makes her shake more and pant harder. We have tried the Thundershirt - doesn't help. We have tried Benadryl - didn't help. We have tried acting like everything is completely normal - doesn't help. The only think that did seem to help a little was turning on several loud fans, turning the TV up to irritating levels, and talking to each other loudly - but the only reason that helped was because she couldn't hear the far off thunder. Once she hears the thunder - forget it - full-on phobia.

She has a vet appointment in a couple of weeks but until then... And the weather has been nuts around here. Tons of April storms and thunder almost every couple of days. I haven't slept more than an hour at a time for a few days - not that I care. It's is Honey I'm worried about. She is elderly and I am still so scared of the amount of cortisol pumping through her during an episode. I'm worried about her heart. I'm worried about all the different kinds of serious conditions that can be a result of flooding her with cortisol and adrenalin so often and for so long.

So my question is: Are there any fur-kid parents out there whose dog suffers the way Honey does, and has had a resulting medical condition because of it? And - is there anything we can do as fur-kid parents to prevent these resulting problems? Stopping the phobia seems almost impossible, so how can I protect her health - her organs - her health from the systemic exhaustion these attacks can very possibly cause.

I will be discussing this with Honey's doctor when we go in - but until then - I just wanted to see how others with phobic dogs felt on the subject of overall health.

Thanks all.

We have more storms on the way - and are under a tornado watch right now. The line of storms will start this afternoon and wave after wave until tomorrow morning. I am going to go and try to prepare the garage for the impending phobic episode. :eek:

Jull April 18th, 2013 09:46 AM

My dog is terrified of storms as well, like your girl he just shakes really bad. I use the "rescue remedy" which is a flower essence - it works for some pets and for others it doesn't but it has no side effects -

PetAlive also has a homeopathic remedy called Pet Calm, but I have not tried that one yet.

Lavender is also good for calming dogs.

renkma April 18th, 2013 11:29 AM

Thank you so much for your suggestions. I'll look into those tips.

I just called the pharmacy in town and had them put a bottle of Melatonin 3mg tablets on hold for my husband to pick up on his way home. Honey's vet said to give it a try if the Benadryl doesn't work. I researched it and found that some dogs do benefit and there are very rarely any side effects in healthy dogs. It's worth a try.

I have the garage all set up for escape. A fan, a humidifier, and the air purifier all make a comforting hum that seems to help block out rain sounds some distant thunder sounds. I will also play some piano classical music or click on the TV at a good volume.

These storms are getting close and I'm actually feeling panic. I think I am getting a bit of a phobia of storms because of Honey's phobia. Maybe it is a phobia of her phobia. I'm pretty spooked of what is to come.:cry:

Hunker down - here it comes!! Wish us luck.:fingerscr And again - any others out there with thoughts on preventing negative health effects of cortisol flooding in phobic dogs - I'd love to hear them.

pattymac April 18th, 2013 12:37 PM

You have to try to stay calm as well. I've seen online where you can get recordings of storms to help desensitize the dog/cat etc. That's about all that I can suggest. I have one cat who doesn't like storms and will go find a cupboard to hide in. My first dog didn't like storms but she'd just shake a bit and come sit near me. Bayley (dog) isn't affected at all.

Winston April 18th, 2013 02:05 PM

Have you ever heard of Thundershirts. We have a member here that probably knows more than I do and hopefully she will stop by but here is a link. Maybe you could just google Thundershirts.

Good Luck



renkma April 18th, 2013 02:40 PM

She does have a Thundershirt actually - unfortunately, it seemed to help a tiny degree a year ago, but it does nothing for her now. Thank you for the thought though.

I was looking at Mutt Muffs but reviews seem to be 50/50 - and having half the people say they are a rip off makes me tend to think they are probably right. The other half say they "are cute" and things like that. I don't care I Honey looks ridiculous - or even I look ridiculous - I just wish for a little peace and comfort for her. I would do anything to take this from her.

The first round of the storm is almost on top of us. I have turned on all the fans, blinds are closed, TV up loud. She had a nap earlier so I'm happy she had some rest from last nights trial. She is dozing right now. I will get the washer going the moment I hear the first rumble.

All the appliances going might raise the hydro bill a little but anything for my little goombah.

renkma April 18th, 2013 03:54 PM

First line of storms started breaking apart as they approached. Ended up to be nothing serious at all. A couple of distant rumbles and a bit of rain. But Honey is in full on freak out. Trembling terribly, panting very heavily, eyes bulging and looking around for something to help or somewhere to go. I'm acting like nothing is different at all. Our other dog Daisy enjoyed a chew, played tug with me, and is now napping on my foot.

I have no idea why this has become so bad for her so rapidly.


Two more lines of storms coming. 1 in a few hours - 1 overnight. Here's hoping they will break apart too. And here's hoping the melatonin takes a bit of the edge off for her.

Jull April 18th, 2013 04:05 PM


These storms are getting close and I'm actually feeling panic. I think I am getting a bit of a phobia of storms because of Honey's phobia. Maybe it is a phobia of her phobia. I'm pretty spooked of what is to come.:cry:


Lavender and the rescue remedy are good for people too ;)

renkma April 19th, 2013 07:45 AM

A Small Success
The melatonin seemed to have worked!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Although the next two waves of storm activity that came through last evening and night were not nearly as bad as the media has warned - there was still a couple of rumbles of thunder and lots of very heavy rain. Normally Honey would have been totally freaked - even with just the rain. Twenty minutes after I got one - 3mg tablet of melatonin in her, she relaxed completely, laid down, gave herself a wonderful foot bath, and went to sleep. She had a tiny bit of anxiety at bedtime (she has connected bedtime with scary thunder and panic attacks), but after a few minutes she sprawled out and went back to sleep. I was prepared to give her her second dose at 1AM, but she didn't need it - she slept through the night, had a couple of barky dreams, snored a lot, and woke up spunky and hungry.

We don't know if the melatonin worked because there were no big booming thunder rumbles with the rains, but the rains were heavy and she always freaks when it rains, so I am extremely optomistic. We will need another BIG storm to pass through to know for sure but so far....:thumbs up:dog:

I will continue to post how she is with melatonin during storms in hopes that maybe this can help other dog's that panic the way Honey does. I'll also post how her vet appointment goes. Maybe Honey's journey to find something that helps will help other pooches.

marko April 19th, 2013 09:00 AM

I've used melatonin myself as a sleep aid a couple of times. Seemed to help.

I'm glad you spoke to your vet about this and that you got a safe dose for your particular dog :highfive:

renkma April 19th, 2013 12:35 PM

Oh of course! I would never give any of my dogs anything medicinal (or even otherwise) without the OK from their doc who knows their histories and each of their specific needs.

pbpatti April 20th, 2013 09:49 AM

Hi, thought I would pop in and give some info on how you may be able to help Honey not only when there is Thunder but as a daily treat for her and you. I am a Tellington TTouch Practioner and I have seen wonderfull things happen for any of our companion animals. I have posted a youtube video to start you on your way with TTouch. Honey will love you for this. Sasha asks for TTouch every morning before we get out of bed so be careful becasue it can be addictive :cloud9::lovestruck:.


renkma April 22nd, 2013 07:34 AM

Still Frightened
Unfortunately, the melatonin isn't the magic cure that I had hoped. Even though we haven't had any storms or even any rain since last weeks trials, Honey is still having panic attacks. Because a couple of storms happened after bed-time, she now has made the connection between her bed and being terrified and has a panic attack One evening there was a boom of thunder just as she started eating her dinner - for two days afterward she didn't want to come to her bowl to eat. And as well as bed-time, night in general after we go to bed scares her. I have to give her a melatonin an hour before bedtime and so far it seems to take a bit of the edge off, but I don't know if those were just good nights for her or if it is really working. Last night she got into her bed all by herself and curled up for the night. After 30 minutes a truck went by and the trembling started - then soon after, the panting and full on panic attack. I got a melatonin in her and it took an hour for her to calm - but she left the room to stay out in the living room.
So I've basically tried everything I can try without our vet appointment and perhaps some prescription help. She can't live this way - and neither can I. It kills me that I can't comfort her or help her. I'll be researching all the possible precription drugs her vet might suggest and make sure that whatever he thinks might work, will be something I can be comfortable giving her. I hope I don't get tackles with a lot of disapproval from people. To just let Honey suffer this way is what would be wrong. And I would never give her anything that would be in anyway dangerous to her. But she is an old girl and she deserves to enjoy her last few golden years feeling relaxed, comfortable, and content. If a tiny bit of anxiety drugs is what is needed to reach that place for her, then that is what we have to do for her.

Thank you to everyone for all the great suggestions.:)

renkma May 1st, 2013 08:06 AM

Honey's vet appointment went well; she is in great health. Her doc actually said she is looking amazing for a senior her age.

BUT because she is older, he didn't want to get into any heavy blood pressure altering drugs if he didn't have to, and gave us a trial amount of valium (diazepam). I am to give her 2 or 3 tabs two hours before a storm. The dosage can be elevated slightly if needed. And if the valium doesn't work, we'll try something else.

We have a front coming through tomorrow so I'll be giving Honey her first dosage. I hope it will help her.

BTW - the reason I keep posting is to possibly help others out there that have a dog with the same phobia. Maybe our experiences and trials can help others know what to do and be of some comfort.

Barkingdog May 1st, 2013 09:35 AM

[QUOTE=pattymac;1056622]You have to try to stay calm as well. I've seen online where you can get recordings of storms to help desensitize the dog/cat etc. That's about all that I can suggest. I have one cat who doesn't like storms and will go find a cupboard to hide in. My first dog didn't like storms but she'd just shake a bit and come sit near me. Bayley (dog) isn't affected at all.[/QUOTE]

I agree with you about having to stay calm too. My Standard Poodle was frighten of thunder too and Finlay would look at me to see how I was acting . When he saw me acting calm he would get less frighten and settle down.

renkma May 6th, 2013 08:20 AM

We actually haven't had any rain at all in over a week!!! For Honey, she is just her happy-go-lucky self having a wonderful Spring. She still won't come to bed though - she stays out in the living room. If that is where she is comfortable, than so be it.

We have rain coming in a few days so I'll be able to try the diazepam. And yes, I will stay calm. I made a joke to the vet about the valium...

1 for Honey
2 for me
1 for Honey
4 for me

We had a bit of a laugh. But seriously - for her, I will be very calm - like nothing is happening at all.

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