Three helpful tips to calm your dog, cat, bird, rabbit or rodent's nerves during a thunderstorm.

Today Melbourne is experiencing its first thunderstorm of the Spring season. It started around 1am this morning and thunder and lightning could still be seen sporadically filling the sky as everyone headed to work and started their day. Like us, our pets can become unnerved by the flash of lightning and the deep roll of thunder as well so here are some tips to help them feel more at ease.

  1. Provide comfort but try to remain upbeat about the situation. Frightened animals often need reassurance that everything is ok - just like we do. A great way to calm your pet is to hold them close, give them a big cuddle and reassure them that everything is ok. Try to remain positive about the situation and talk to them calmly so they feel safe and secure. Pets are great at reading our emotions so the more neutral you can be about the situation, the quicker they will start to relax and feel safe.
  2. Give them a cozy hideaway. If your pet spends a lot of time outside, it's worth bringing them indoors during a thunderstorm so they feel secure and don't panic. Let them relax with you during the day and at night sleep on the floor in their bed or in the laundry if you don't want them wandering the halls or sleeping on the couch. For dogs and cats, most laundries are big enough for a mat or bed to be placed on the floor and the small, contained space usually helps them to relax. If you have a window in your laundry, close the curtain or put up a sheet or towel to stop any flashes of lightning filling the room. Being around others will help your animal feel safe and less likely to go into a fight-or-flight response, which can sometimes see dogs and cats escaping the yard or getting stuck in hard to reach places. If you have a bird or rodent a good way to help calm their nerves can be putting a cover or light sheet over part of their cage to help them feel safe.
  3. Play some music or gentle noise to lower the impact of the startling noise. During the day turn on some music to drown out the loud noise of thunder. This will make you feel happy and will help your pet feel more at ease. During the night you can try playing some white noise which is easily downloadable on your phone or computer and may help to ease the startle effect that thunder can create. 

Remember New Years Eve isn't far away either and over the summer season there can be fireworks displays around the city. These tips may be helpful on these nights as well for your pets.