The Star-Herald

When storms are brewing

Here in Aroostook County we have experienced a pretty nice summer so far.  Although we had record rainfall for June, we haven’t seen too many storms, but it doesn’t hurt to know some handy tips when the skies darken and the rolling thunder begins.

My two previous kitties were definitely not fans of thunderstorms.  One would head for under the bed and the other would cuddle close.  Dogs can have an even greater fear of the storms.

These loud weather events can strike fear in the hearts of even the most normally laid-back dogs or cats, according to Dr. Karen Becker of Healthy Pets. But many pet parents aren’t aware that isn’t just the thunder that can make pets afraid.

“Lightning, wind, rain, dark skies, changes in barometric pressure, and even odors can trigger a panicked reaction in susceptible dogs and cats,” Becker said.

Here at the Central Aroostook Humane Society, we suggest creating a safe place where your pet can go to avoid the storm.  

If your companion is a cat, observe where she goes to “hide out” when she feels the need, and if possible, turn the area into a cozy little safe spot for her. For example, if she heads for a corner of your bedroom closet, consider placing a cat bed there on one of those plastic storage tubs most of us have. This will turn her closet hideout into a warm, slightly elevated, safe spot.

For dogs, your basement may be just the ticket, or alternatively, a room with soundproofing wallboard and heavy window coverings. Your dog’s safe place should ideally have small, covered windows or no windows at all, so he can’t see the storm. In the space you set aside, add a solid-sided crate, and leave the door open. The crate should contain food, water, treats and toys. When you know a storm is approaching, turn on the lights in the room so lightning flashes will be less obvious.

Play calming music in their safe spot at a volume just loud enough to drown out distant thunderclaps.  Make sure to spend time playing with your pet in his safe room when it’s not storming, and then see if he’ll go there on his own when he senses a storm is on the way. Your pet should have access to his safe spot at all times, and especially when you’re not at home.   

Engaging your dog in a fun activity, such as a game, or giving him a treat release toy or bone to chew on is a great way to distract your pet and divert his attention until the storm passes. 

We have many wonderful animals that are at the shelter just waiting for a new loving home.  Stop by for a visit at 24 Cross St., Presque Isle.  We are open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., closing for lunch from 12 to 12:30.  You can also check us out on Facebook. 

Always be responsible: spay and neuter your pets.

Gloria J. Towle is the secretary and a member of the board for the Central Aroostook Humane Society.

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