With winter upon us, I got to thinking… We are all aware lightning, thunder and hail can be unsettling for cats and dogs.  But what about our other Pets?

Well, it seems if we watch our Pets closely in the lead up to a storm some interesting and unusual behaviour is likely to be seen.  And there are steps we can take to help them feel and BE safe.

The signs.

Birds may forego their usual morning preening session and start feeding instead. They may become a little aggressive and show signs of distress.

Guinea Pigs may start shaking or run for cover before a storm.  Rabbits will likely start ‘screaming’ and pacing in the lead up to a thunderstorm.

Don’t forget the chickens!  They will often start clustering together. This isn’t always the case, mind you. Some chickens seem to not be bothered by storms at all, even enjoying a soaking in the rain!

As Human Carers for our Pets, it is our responsibility to ensure our little buddies are safe and secure in the lead up to and during a storm.  In the wild, animals instinctively know what to do.  As we Humans are responsible for domesticating our Pets, it goes without saying it is our responsibility to ensure they are safe in a domestic environment.

Steps to take.

There are many simple steps to take to ensure your Pets safety and comfort in the lead up to and during a storm.

Keep your cat inside. It is likely your cat is already hiding under a bed or in a cupboard leading up to and during a storm.  Cats generally will simply hide out for the duration of the storm and then pop out as if nothing has happened!  Just remember to provide a hiding place for your cat before the storm.  Open a bedroom door or wardrobe door so they have somewhere to ride it out.

Keep your dog inside during a storm and provide a safe place.  An example of a safe place is your bedroom.  Maybe spend time on your bed with your dog during a thunderstorm.  Distract him/her with fun games and toys.  Pop some calming music on and sit or lay with them.  Be sure to watch your own body language, as your Pets will pick up on your mood and body language.  You could also put a snug fitting t’shirt or pet jacket on your dog as this has been proven to calm some dogs during storms.

Bring your rabbit/guinea pig hutch inside.  If the hutch doesn’t fit through the door, place your rabbit/guinea pig in a bathroom with a carboard box and bedding.  Comfort your rabbit/guinea pig during a storm.  Spend time with them and place the hutch in such a position that your rabbit/guinea pig can see you during the storm.

Transfer your birds to a smaller cage and bring them inside, ensuring they have food, water and something to entertain themselves with (eg a mirror).

Let’s not forget the chickens!  If there is no way for them to be brought into the ebathroom, garage or shed, ensure their coop is free of objects that can be blown around in the wind (food bowls, water bowls etc).  Ensure the doors/latches to the coop are securely closed.

And finally, to help soothe the nerves of both you and your pet during a storm, pop some calming music on and try to stay calm yourself.  Your Pets will be looking to you for comfort and reassurance, so take a deep breath, put a smile on your face and project a sense of calm.  Your Pets (and you) will appreciate it.

Paws and licks, Loren & Scout

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