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.
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.