Dealing With A Simple Storm Isn’t Always So Simple

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Did you know that Wikipedia defines fear of storms in this way?

      Astraphobia, also known as astrapophobia, brontophobia, keraunophobia, or tonitrophobia, is an abnormal fear of thunder and lightning, a type of specific phobia. It is a treatable phobia that both humans and animals can develop. 
Taken from Wikipedia

      Spring has sprung and here in Ohio, the spring season thunderstorms started last week with a loud bang of thunder and because this is the beginning of the stormy season, I thought I would do a bit of research and see what I could find.

      Have you ever thought about your reaction or the reactions of your furkids?

      Personally I don’t have too much of a problem with thunderstorms. Whether I’m alone or with someone I don’t really give it too much thought. If I’m home and the lightning is bad, I make sure that I don’t have anything electrical on, like the tv or a radio, (unless it’s running on batteries) I don’t wash dishes, bathe, bathe Mary or talk on a landline phone because it’s too dangerous in case of a lightning strike. I dislike going out into a thunderstorm if the lightning is bad, but then considering I don’t have a car I have to walk to and from the bus stop to get where I’m going, it’s kind of understandable I think. Of course I’ve never been a fan of being in wet clothes either but that’s a whole other subject.

      Now my dog? She sleeps through them. They don’t bother her, she’s as cool as a cucumber in the fridgie. Not that I want her to be afraid of anything, I really don’t want her to be fearful. It’s just I’m truly surprised that she’s so calm during the thunder. Now if it’s a really really bad one? Then she’s a little nervous and she sticks closer than she usually does to me, but she’s not really fearful of them, at least to the extent that I’ve seen in others be it two legged people or four legged furkids.

      One of my best friends (Jeri) has a pitbull named Maisy. They’ve been together for a couple years now, Maisy was a rescue and who knows what sweet Maisy has been through and seen in her life. She’s a young girl, they don’t think she was even a year old when she was found/surrendered to the local Humane Society here in town. Thunderstorms… be it spring, summer or autumn freak Maisy out. At any given time during a storm she will do all of the following…

*Panic

*Pant

*Pace

*Drool

*Shake

*Hide under a desk & under the bed

*Eyes wide, full of panic and terror

      Jeri has tried lots of things to help her and so has her vet, but nothing took away the sheer panic and terror that Maisy felt. Finally after all else was tried and failed, Maisy was put on medication for her nerves, preferably a few minutes to an hour before the storm starts, but it’s not always possible to give the medication that early, sometimes storms can happen sooner than we think. Even that medication unfortunately doesn’t take the panic completely away, but she does end up taking a nap for just a little while.

      Another close friend of mine named Jenny has a basset hound named Lily that is a sweet girl and very loving but also has panic attacks. Jenny has tried everything to help her poor four legged girl but to no avail. When thunderstorms start Lily has about the same reaction as Maisy, but with a slight difference, when Lily gets that scared, that panicked she can’t be restrained or restrained for very long, because in her panicked state, Lily will ram into whatever is around to get out. Her panic is THAT bad with all loud sounds, but especially thunderstorms. She will ram herself into any door that she finds, until she’s brought blood on herself to escape.

      I confess I never really thought about others being so scared, panicked or even worried about storms until I started hearing about the panic involving Maisy and Lily. Really I hadn’t. Rarely do I watch the weather (or the news either for that matter, it’s so depressing) but when I hear of an upcoming storm or possible storm in passing I pass on the news to my friends incase they haven’t heard and can take steps to take care of Maisy and Lily. I hate it that they feel so much fear.

Symptoms of Astraphobia As Described By Wikipedia

*Trembling

*Crying

*Sweating

*Panicked reactions

*The sudden feeling of using the bathroom

*Nausea

*The feeling of dread

*Rapid heartbeat.

Unique Reactions To Astraphobia

*Reassurance from other people is usually sought, and symptoms worsen when alone. Many

*People who have astraphobia will look for extra shelter from the storm. They might hide underneath a bed, under the covers, in a closet, in a basement, or any other space where they feel safer.

*Efforts are usually made to smother the sound of the thunder; the person may cover their ears or curtain the windows.

If you have any of these signs or symptoms, I encourage you to seek some type of help to deal with them, either by seeing a counselor or talking to your family doctor. No one should ever have to feel this way.

A Word About Dogs Dealing With Astraphobia..

Ask any devoted dog owner, dogs can and sometimes do show extreme anxiety during a thunderstorm. Between 15 & 30 percent are affected.

According to Wikipedia, “Remedies include behavioral therapies such as counter conditioning and desensitization, anti-anxiety medications, and Dog Appeasing Pheromone, a synthetic analogue of a hormone secreted by nursing canine mothers.

Unless otherwise directed by your family vet, if your furkid is scared, anxious or generally uncomfortable during a thunderstorm or other very loud noise it is generally advised to….keep acting normal, don’t start trying to comfort them in any way because that behaviour tells them that there really IS something to fear and makes them even more afraid of what is going on and reinforces that idea to be afraid.

Kari

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