Lightning storms can be so exciting to watch. They can be beautiful but also dangerous, and even scary to some, but does this go for your dog too? Can they even sense lighting?
Yes, they can. In fact, some evidence suggests they can sense lightning storms even before you know they are coming. It can also be dangerous for dogs who get scared of loud noises because of thunder, as they may be prone to bolt.
Signs That Your Dog Might Be Scared of a Storm
The first to keep in mind is that lightning and thunder go hand in hand. It’s not possible for lightning to be present without thunder. If you see lightning but you don’t hear thunder, it just means it’s too far away for you to hear.
In most cases, before you or your dog sees lightning, you both will probably hear the thunder. If your dog is present during a lightning and thunderstorm, they’re probably reacting more to the thunder than the lightning. Thunderstorms can be very distressing for dogs, so it’s crucial to keep an eye on their behavior. If your dog starts panting, pacing, or whining, these could be a few of the first signs that they sense a storm is coming your way. They also might jump up, bark, or even put their ears back. Loud noises can be very startling for a dog’s sensitive sense of hearing.
If your dog gets scared enough, they might try to run away. If you notice them exhibiting the signs above as well as shaking, cuddling with you, howling, and trying to get outside, keep an eye on them. They might try to escape. This isn’t to get away from you, it’s to try and escape the sounds from the storm.
History of Dogs and Lightning
Thunderstorms have been around for as long as humans can remember. There isn’t a huge amount of information on when they came into existence, just that they seem to be a part of life. Again, the storms can be very pretty to watch, but they can start fires and cause injuries.
Britannica online says that thunderstorms occur in almost every region of the world, but they are “rare in polar regions and infrequent at latitudes higher than 50° N and 50° S.” As far as dogs and thunderstorms, many dogs have had a very heated relationship with thunder and lightning. A lot of dogs really don’t like the sound and this has caused problems for pups for many, many years.
One dog owner recently mentioned a summer trip to the lake with her family where the family dog came along as well. The lake had many lighting and thunderstorms during the summer, and their pooch hated the storms. The dog would tremble, pant and even hide in the basement before the storm was visible or audible to the family. So, they went and got her some calming treats at the local pet store to help her. It seemed to help, but she still had a very rough time with the storms.
Science Behind Dogs and Lightning Storms
As far as thunder and lightning storms go, like the dog in the story above, your pooch might seem anxious even before the storm is noticeable to you. This is because research points to dogs being able to sense storms before you can for a variety of reasons.
The main reason is that they probably hear it before you. Dogs can hear noises between 67-45,000 Hz while humans can hear noises between 64-23,000 Hz. Also, dogs can sense other things about storms.
According to The Dodo “Dogs are capable of sensing the barometric pressure drop and any shift in static electric field. Change in air pressure and electricity are indications of adverse weather.”
Training Your Dog to Sense Lightning
So, can you train your pooch to sense lightning? There’s no real way to do that. Dogs just have amazing senses that can pick up on things. So, the best thing you can do is to keep your dog healthy. Make sure they get a well-balanced diet and stay hydrated. Take them for walks and play with them. Also, make sure they see the vet and are up-to-date on their shots. A healthy pup means healthy senses.
It’s also crucial to keep your eye on a panicked pup. These storms are no joke to them and as mentioned, they can cause them to try to run away. Many dogs get hurt, lost, or even killed when they run away from home. So, if a storm is coming, there are several things you can do to help your pooch to be more comfortable.
According to pethealth.com, it’s important to keep your pup inside during a storm, stay home with them, use noise like music or white noise to mask the sounds from the storm, and make them a safe place to hang out that is away from the noise. You can also try pheromones or medication if you clear it with your vet first. The bottom line is that during a storm, do everything you can to keep your pup safe.
So, can a dog sense lightning? Absolutely! They can sense it even before you know it’s coming! So, keep that in mind when your dog starts exhibiting signs that a storm is brewing.
By Katie Anderson
Published: 07/06/2018, edited: 04/06/2020