By Angela Ardolino
Updated on June 9, 2021
It’s that time of year that our dogs HATE! Thunderstorm season. While thunderstorms can occur year-round, they are most likely to occur from May-August. And for those of us living in Florida, boy do they roll in! What’s even worse is learning that as many as 40 percent of dogs experience noise anxiety, which is more pronounced in the summer. A dog’s reaction to noise anxiety can range from becoming clingy, panting, and trembling, to even running away. Dogs naturally tend to look to their owners for help and nothing is worse than feeling helpless at that moment. That leaves most of us wondering, “What can I give my dog for anxiety during storms?”
Symptoms of Noise and Storm Anxiety in Dogs
Exhibiting signs of fear can mean a wide range of things for different pets. For some, it means they are suffering from general anxiety, which often manifests through barking, pacing, and panting. But for others, fear and panic can lead to dangerous results.
In recent years, multiple reports have surfaced of older dogs and even puppies suffering heart attacks which lead to their death during triggering events, such as thunderstorms or fireworks displays. Additionally, during these triggering noisy events, there are increased incidents of dogs running through sliding glass doors or running away. In fact, more dogs are lost on July 4th and January 1st than any other days of the year.
Some symptoms from Thunderstorm and Noise Anxiety include:
How To Calm Your Dog During Thunderstorms
Provide a Safe Place inside. Create a safe place in your home that your pet can retreat to. Make sure they can access this spot, even when you’re not home.
Keep their environment calm. To avoid the view of the storm contributing to your pet’s anxiety, close the curtains or blinds. You may find that playing soft music helps keep them calm as well.
Keep guests away from your pet. New people can cause more anxiety in a panicked dog. If there are lots of people around, keep pets in their own calm space, rather than letting them roam.
Wrap or Swaddle your pet. Putting something with weight or slight pressure on your pet creates a calming effect, according to a recent study. Just like weighted blankets can help people with anxiety, a comfortable weighted shirt or swaddle can give your pet a sense of feeling grounded and calm. Though be sure they are still able to move around freely. You can find vests, like the Thunder Shirt, at your local pet store. You can also save money by wrapping your pet’s chest in an ace bandage (but not too tight!!) to create the same effect.
What Can I Give My Dog for Anxiety During Storms?
Despite all of the frightening facts about storms and noise anxiety, there is a safe way to help your pets and even yourself: Full Spectrum CBD. Full spectrum CBD has been proven to help manage PD, C-PTSD, and PTSD during triggering events such as fireworks or thunderstorms.
CBD works by interacting with the body’s Endocannabinoid System, which is responsible for maintaining homeostasis in the body. Within the brain, CBD can mimic serotonin by binding and activating your body’s 5-HT1A serotonin receptors. Often called the ‘happy’ chemical, these serotonin receptors are responsible for emotional balance.
A 2013 article published in Neuropharmacology also found that: “In addition to modulating basal anxiety states, recent studies suggest an important role for the endocannabinoid (eCB) and glucocorticoid systems is the modulation of emotional states and extinction of aversive memories in animals.” This means that CBD can help in facilitating extinction of negative emotion surrounding triggers, like thunderstorms, and helps manage PTSD and anxiety or panic disorders in people and animals.
Even more interesting: 2019 study published in the Permanente Journal found that CBD also has a calming effect on the central nervous system and is better tolerated than other psychiatric medications.
Although many vets recommend giving your pet children’s Benadryl, it is important to remember that this drug is not intended for animals and may have side effects. For example, Benadryl can put a strain on a dog’s liver and kidneys if they are already experiencing issues in those areas. So when you’re wondering, What can I give my dog for anxiety during storms? Remember, CBD is a safer, natural solution to keeping your pet relaxed.
Related: How CBD helps with separation, noise, and everyday anxiety
CBD and Lavender Essential Oil
Lavender essential oil has been used for its calming effects for a long time. In a study done on mice, “continuous exposures to lavender essential oils significantly inhibited anxiety and depression-like behaviors.” CBD and Lavender have the same aromatic compound (terpene) called Linalool. Linalool is believed to promote relaxation and calming effects. Linalool also helps the immune system combat the effects of stress. Stress causes a shift in the distribution of white blood cells in the body. In a study of rats, Linalool prevented the stress-induced changes in how the rat’s DNA was expressed.
This is why we formulated our CALM tincture – specifically for anxiety, stress and fear – to combine the incredible therapeutic benefits of both CBD and Lavender.
Dosing CBD for Thunderstorm Anxiety in Dogs
Cannabinoids in the hemp plant, including CBD, interact with the endocannabinoid system. Every mammal has an endocannabinoid system, which has receptors that instruct the cells how to heal and restore homeostasis in the body. Dogs have twice the amount of receptors than people, which means that CBD and other cannabinoids are incredibly effective.
Despite common misconceptions, dosing CBD has very little to do with your dog’s size and weight. Some dogs have a more sensitive endocannabinoid system than others, so the optimal dose of CBD can vary between dogs.
For example, even though Nina is four times the size of Odie, she only needs around 9 mg of CBD to relieve her noise anxiety. In contrast, Odie needs 20 mg or more to calm down. Two dramatically differently sized dogs who require dramatically different CBD dosages for the same ailment, because their endocannabinoid systems are not identically sensitive.
That’s why we have a range of dosage recommendations based on our experience and research. For noise and thunderstorm anxiety, we suggest a dose of 9mg before the triggering event. Then, if your pet is still anxious after 15-20 minutes, you can administer another 9mg until you see results.
If your dog doesn’t seem to be responding to the initial dose, it is perfectly safe to give them more without fear of overdosing. If you feel nervous about experimenting to find the upper limit of their sensitivity, rest assured, it is completely safe. Numerous studies have proven the safety of cannabis based medicine at even extreme high doses. Doses of up to 640 mg of CBD rich extract were well tolerated by dogs, with only mild adverse effects such as diarrhea.
Related: CBD Dosage for Dogs
Success Story: Thunderstorm Anxiety
Meet our boy, Odie. This feisty 12-year-old miniature Schnauzer HATES thunderstorms. He can sense their arrival way before we can, and he immediately starts to tremble and cry. It pained me to see him suffer and I hated feeling helpless when he looked up at me with those eyes! Since using CBD, Odie no longer shakes, paces, or panics during thunderstorms. Instead, Odie, and my other anxious animals on the farm, are able to rest and nap despite the noise.
Want to see it for yourself? Check out this video and see how fast it helps our Odie:
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Related: What Can I Give My Dog for Fireworks Anxiety
About Angela Ardolino
Angela Ardolino is a holistic pet expert who has been caring for animals for over 20 years. She operates a rescue farm, Fire Flake Farm, in Florida. Angela is also the owner of Beautify the Beast, a natural pet salon and shop. After getting her certificate in Medical Cannabis Biology and Therapeutic use from the University of Vermont School of Medicine. She founded CBD Dog Health to provide high quality, all-natural medical cannabis products designed specifically for pets.
Angela has seven dogs, Odie a 12-year-old mini-schnauzer, Nina an 8-year-old Doberman. Jolene a 7-year-old mutt, Maza a 7-year-old mutt, Rhemi an 8-year-old poodle, Potato a 15-year-old shih-tzu, and Miss Daisie a 15-year-old black lab, plus 4-10 more at any time she is fostering or boarding. She uses Full Spectrum Hemp Extract on all her pets at her rescue farm every day, and has since 2016. She is a member of the Society of Cannabis Clinicians, the Veterinary Cannabis Association and has trained hundreds medical doctors and veterinarians about the therapeutic uses of medical cannabis on animals. Visit www.angelaardolino.com for more information.