Predicting when a thunderstorm is coming is not always easy. Sometimes there are signs of bd weather, but often times it will hit within five minutes. Thunder booms can be so loud that the house shakes, that loud noise compared with the rain pounding down and flashes of lightning can cause your Chihuahua to go into a frenzy. However, the big boom is not the only reason Chi’s are terrified of thunderstorms. Here are some reasons thunderstorms can upset your Chi and how to comfort them during this anxious time.
When storms approach, Chi’s can feel the uncomfortable air change and static electricity. Their fur with tingle, which sets off a bitter alarm that makes them want to pace and whimper. According to studies, Chi’s can experience numerous shocks of static electricity during thunderstorms. If your Chi tries to hide under a surface, the bathtub or basement then they may be experiencing these shocks. One way to help with static electricity is by using unscented dryer sheets on your Chi. This method depends greatly on whether your Chi is a frequent groomer and if they are super sensitive to unknown chemicals.
The Smell of Change
Chihuahua’s can sense change in the air and they can smell the approaching wind and rain. The smell of ozone in the air is a characteristic of lightning and this alone puts your Chi into panic mode. Due to their strong senses, they can detect the implication of weather changes. Chihuahua’s can also feel when the barometric pressure changes and knows that something different is coming.
Calming Your Chi
When Chihuahua’s are scared, particularly during a thunderstorm, there are several incidents that can happen. If not properly confined, some Chi’s will escape through windows and cracks or hide in unfamiliar places. Severe reactions include destructive behaviors such as destroying furniture and using the bathroom in the home. There are plenty of ways to calm your Chi, you just have to know what works best for their personality.
The first method to try is finding a comfortable place for them to rest and feel safe. Chi’s love plush beds and rugs, but even places such as a covered crate, a space under the bed, or a bathtub can help. It’s important to remember not to appear anxious yourself. Your fearful Chi can sense your anxiety which will make theirs worse.
Another method to try is background noise. There are many soothing sounds for your Chi and sometimes even the television can help distract them from the storm. If your Chi has severe anxiety there is an over-the-counter medication known as melatonin that will help calm them. Melatonin will keep your Chi alert, but the thunder will not cause panic to them anymore. Note: the recommended dose for dogs is 1mg per 20lbs, an average 6lb Chihuahua would only need 0.25mg. There are dog specific anxiety products containing melatonin such as Advanced Calming Soft Chews or Natural Calming Treats for Dogs.
A popular product that launched a few years back to help calm dogs, including tiny Chi’s, is the Thundershirt. The thundershirt is not really a “shirt”, it is a series of flaps that wrap and strap around your Chi to provide pressure. The constant, gentle pressure provides assurance to your Chi that things are going to be okay. If a Thundershirt is out of your price range, ACE bandages work in the same manor. Anything that can provide gentle pressure to your Chi’s chest and neck will help keep them calm.
Prepare in Advance for a Storm
- If you know a storm is coming, take your Chi out on a leash to use the bathroom.
- Have a crate prepared by having it covered and away from windows.
- Keep your windows and curtains close. It’s ideal to have them in a closed room.
- Have games/toys to distract your Chi.
- Have background noise ready to go.
- Make sure your Chi has their ID tag in case they escape.
- If your Chi likes Thundershirt, put it on them.
- If you know your Chi requires medicine to help them calm down, administer it.
How to Help Your Chi
Thunderstorm anxiety may not be completely curable, but there are several ways to help your Chi stay calm.
Start by keeping them indoors and having them get plenty of experience and outdoor play when you know a storm is not predicted.
Putting Your Chi in a Crate
When Chi’s are scared, they want to hide. If your Chi uses a crate and goes there when they are stressed, this is the time to take advantage of those confined spaces. A crate covered with a thick blanket may be suitable for the night. Never leave your fur baby in a crate alone if they do not want to be there and do not find comfort there.
Stay Away from Windows
With you Chihuahua indoors, you still want to limit outside exposure. Keep the windows and curtain closed. Move away from the windows and into the middle of your home into a closed space for your Chi.
Studies have shown that smooth electronic notes mixed with whispering winds and scuffling calm hyper Chihuahua’s down.
Tight Fitting Clothing
As mentioned above, a thundershirt is a great investment for anxious Chi’s, however if you don’t want to invest in a thundershirt, something as simple as a tight-fitting shirt may help. ACE bandages can work as well since they provide a snug and gentle pressure to your Chi’s body.
If your Chi is nervous, direct their attention to something else such as food and toys. The less attention to the noise, the less obsession they have with behavioral issues. Chewing is often a form of comfort, so this is the time to break out an extra special chew toy or treat for your fur baby.
Sometimes a comforting hug and snuggling under a warm blanket is the only method a Chi needs to stay calm. If you are calm and loving, these feelings will reflect back on your Chi. It is also a great time for bonding!
Medications that are safe for your Chihuahua are pheromones, melatonin and several prescription medications. Pheromones are available in sprays, collars and even diffusers. Melatonin is shown to not always be effective for pets, but with some Chi’s it will relax them enough to make it through the commotion.
Chihuahua’s are naturally anxious pups. Thunderstorms create a whirlwind of change that they are not accustomed too. It’s your job as their owner to find out which method works best for your scared fur baby. If it takes huddling in a closed room snuggling under a blanket, then you can take that extra time to calm your Chi!