How Weather Can Change Your Dog's Behavior.
With all this crazy weather we have been experiencing, The Beach Dog thought it would be valuable to address how weather can change your dog's behavior. There have been record-breaking weather patterns recorded worldwide this summer. Severe thunderstorms accompanied by tornado warnings, and summer heat temperatures that are breaking records. Understanding how weather can change your dog's behavior is essential in how you care for your dog.
Not only does the weather have a direct impact on how we care for our dogs. Dogs are like children and they have a routine in their daily lives. This routine is embedded into every dog owner's life. If you feel the disruption of endless rainy days, coupled with back-to-back thunderstorms and tornado watches, it affects your dog too. Likewise, if mini heat waves in between these storms are making life intolerable for you, then think about how it affects your dog. Behavioral patterns are not the only change your dog might experience. There have been many studies on how weather can change your dog's behavior, both biologically and in routine.
Thunder and Lighting
Penn State University conducted a study that showed an increase in cortisol levels in dogs during thunderstorms. Cortisol is known as ‘the stress hormone.’ Cortisol is one of the hormones responsible for the ‘fight or flight’ response. This reaction increases heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing rate. Any human that has ever experienced this reaction knows it’s not fun, and it’s reported this reaction can last from 20-60 minutes. So if you have a dog that gets anxious during a thunder and lightning storm know that weather can change your dog's behavior by way of real biological chemical reactions.
A drop in barometric pressure can result in a bit of changed behavior in your dog as well. Some humans are sensitive to this drop too, so you and your dog might be in sync. If you're not sensitive to these shifts and you notice Fido acting odd, it could be a drop in barometric pressure. Some dogs will sniff at the air in funny ways when weather pressures drop. Low pressures make smells travel differently. A dog that is familiar with his surroundings, including smells, might start picking up on scents unfamiliar to him. A drop in barometric pressure can also cause joint pain and stiffness. If your dog seems grumpy, and physically off, you could be experiencing a barometric pressure drop. Dogs can sense shifts in barometric pressure when many humans can not. If your dog starts showing signs of a pressure low it’s just more confirmation as to how weather can change your dog's behavior.
Sensing Bad Weather
The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), states as electrical storms approach a dog's behavior can change as a direct reaction. Some dogs seem to predict the weather pattern before the storm is recognized by humans. Dogs have been known to warn their humans of incoming weather by seeking a safe place. Some might immediately want to transition from outside to inside, some might go directly to their crate or bed, and some even jump into the bathtub. Dr. Nicholas Dodman with the Center for Canine Behavior Studies at Tufts University, has devoted his career to researching animal anxiety, particularly dogs with storm phobia. He states that studies suggest dogs can sense and even feel storms in the form of static electricity in their body. There are even more reports stating a dog's behavior was very odd when approaching weather, such as a tornado touched down without warning. Some owners accredit their dogs' reactions for saving their lives. It's speculated that some dogs are hearing, and smelling this chaotic weather approaching. Have you ever experienced how weather can change your dog's behavior by alerting you to a sudden shift in weather patterns?
We don’t need a study to tell us how a dog's behavior can change when an endless week of record-breaking heat blankets us all. Your dog eats less and seems lethargic, grumpy, and disinterested. My dogs become ‘rule breakers.’ Normally they are not allowed in the kitchen, but break the rules just for the comfort of the cold tiles on the kitchen floor…and I let them 🤫. Beyond overheating, heat stroke can be very dangerous for dogs. Because dogs don’t sweat through their skin like humans, they release heat to lower their body temperature through panting and their paw pads. If your dog is experiencing symptoms beyond lethargy, grumpiness, and acting disinterested, pay close attention. Try to keep them in a cool area and offer plenty of water. If a dip in a cool body of water is an option, trust it’s worth the effort. If your dog collapses, starts to vomit, or has diarrhea, notify your veterinarian right away. Heat exhaustion and dehydration are serious consequences as to how weather can change your dog's behavior.
Understanding how crazy weather can change your dog's behavior, will help you take care of them as you ride out the storm together. Know that the changed behavior is simply a reaction to your dog's surroundings. Sometimes your dog might sense weather shifts before your human senses recognize them. Be patient and watch for triggers or patterns that replicate behavior shifts from past storms. You might come to find that these new behavioral changes might not be changed after all. It might just be your dog's natural behavior to storms or barometric pressure drops. Chances are you are just noticing now because in recent months these storms have been ever-present and relentless. Which results in more noticeable changes in your dog's behavior.
Now that we have addressed how weather can change your dog's behavior, please join us to see how we can better care for our dogs during these crazy weather patterns.