KEARNEY — Pets have advance warning systems when it comes to weather, said Dennis Larsen, a retired veterinarian from Kearney.
“Pets can identify a storm before you even see storm clouds. They can hear the thunder when it’s far away, and they can smell the air. That’s when they start to get nervous,” Larsen said.
He said pet’s uncontrollable fear of storms, lightning or thunder is a phobia. Medical treatments can help the pet cope with the anxiety and fear, and it may be possible to train them in a manner that desensitizes them to the elements of storms that cause them fear.
“They’ll get nervous way before the storm hits. That’s when you can give them medication to help them get through it,” Larsen said. “It takes an hour for the medicine to take effect.”
Fear of storms may be a hereditary condition, or it could be the result of a bad experience earlier in the pet’s life.
Training may help to desensitize the pet to the noises that cause them fear, Larsen said.
Start by allowing your pet to hear a recording of storm sounds at very low volume. Increase the volume for the next session, but be patient, Larsen said. It could take a dozen or more sessions before your pet no longer notices storm sounds.
“Now is the time to start the training because it’s going to take some time,” he said. “Be there for your pet. Give them comfort. You need to be with them if you can.”