A Shocking Theory in Thunderstorm Anxiety

June 26, 2014 in Aerowood Animal Hospital

In this post on thunderstorm anxiety in pets, we explore the theory that dogs are having a strong reaction to ambient static electricity present during thunderstorms and discuss a possible solution.  Have you ever heard of dogs trying to get into the shower during storms or trying to get on top of the toilet tank?  Nicholas Dodman of the Cummins School of Veterinary Medicine, a published researcher in animal behavior who has done research with Temple Grandin, writes that multiple clients have told him about strange behavior of German shepherds during thunderstorms.  Clients told him about German shepherds taking refuge in specific locations including a wading pool ankle deep in water, sinks, showers, empty hot tubs, and the backs of toilet tanks.  When a student of Dodman’s noticed that all these locations could be electrical grounds, the static electricity theory of thunderstorm anxiety was born.

The theory is that one night, during a thunderstorm, a particular dog gets an unexpected jolt.  The dog is frightened by the unknown and associates it with an ability to sense electrical build up. Through trial and error, the dog finds a location that it believes will offer protection from electricity, and a phobic behavior is born.  Dodman had trouble proving the theory experimentally.

Then, along comes an electrical engineer, Tom Critzer, who has read about this theory and has developed a device he calls The Storm Defender.  The Storm Defender is a cape with a silver-colored, anti-static lining.  Critzer had already tried the anti-static cape successfully with 180 dogs before contacting Dodman.  Dodman put the cape through two experimental trials, and they found that the cape alleviated thunderstorm anxiety in most cases!  But only after two or three storms.  Later versions of The Storm Defender have been designed with tighter fits to approximate the constant pressure effects of the Thundershirt and the Anxiety Wrap.

Scientifically, the theory still has a long way to go before we could consider it proven and fully understood.  However, the efficacy of this type of vest seems fairly well demonstrated. If you have a pet with thunderstorm anxiety and electricity avoidance seems to be part of the behavior pattern, this product or other strategies to protect from static electricity may be part of your solution.

Check out: www.StormDefender.com

Other clothing designed to moderate all types of anxiety in pets operates on the constant pressure concept and includes:

www.AnxietyWrap.com

www.ThunderShirt.com

 

Thunderstorm Anxiety Electrical

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