Use this 'thundershirt' to soothe pets spooked by storms

Michelle MackeyVideo Journalist

They'll thank you for it: Studies show at least half of pets are scared of thunder and lightning.

The numbers are in and it’s confirmed: The majority of cats and dogs are afraid of thunder and lightning.

The statistics are the result of a PetSmall Poll conducted by DART Insights wherein 800 cat and 800 dog owners across Canada were surveyed.

In Ontario, 54 per cent of dogs and 49 per cent of cats were reported by their owners to be afraid of thunder and lightning, while 56 per cent of dogs and 77 per cent of cats were said to not like going out in the rain.

To know if your pet is anxious in active weather, “Things like panting, trembling, hiding, sometimes even itching and scratching nervously, are all signs of stress,” says Julian Bronk, Area Pet Training Instructor with PetSmart.

Bronk recommends a thundershirt, a jacket designed to provide gentle, constant pressure, “it reduces anxiety, fear, stress ... kind of like swaddling an infant.” The jacket can be used for both dogs and cats.

Thundershirts have an over 80 per cent success rate, but for the pets that still feel anxious, PetSmart recommends sending them calming messages to help them relax. This can be achieved by cuddling, speaking in a calming voice, offering treats or playing soothing sounds to muffle the noise.

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To prevent active weather anxiety, get your pet comfortable with loud sounds. Play CDs of thunderstorms or other loud noises at a low volume and gradually increase the volume over a few days or weeks.