Georgia Taylor, 21, keeps her cavoodle Lucy inside during storms. Picture: Tara Croser
Georgia Taylor, 21, keeps her cavoodle Lucy inside during storms. Picture: Tara Croser

How to calm your dog in a storm

STORM season has begun with a bang, leaving the state's furry friends trembling in its aftershocks and owners scrambling to help.

In the last round of severe thunderstorms that ripped through the southeast, the RSPCA received 40 calls about missing dogs and Animal Emergency Service centres around Queensland housed nearly 70 dogs that escaped.

Georgia Taylor, 21, keeps her cavoodle Lucy inside during storms. Picture: Tara Croser
Georgia Taylor, 21, keeps her cavoodle Lucy inside during storms. Picture: Tara Croser

Animal welfare experts have urged pet owners to keep their dogs inside, or to secure their properties so they cannot escape out of "sheer fear".

Animal Welfare League senior veterinarian Dr John Gilmore said there was no "magic solution" to cure dogs from becoming distressed in storms. However he said there were several things owners could do to calm and protect their pooches.

"You can get a mild sedative tablet from your veterinarian that you give to your dog about an hour before the storm or fireworks begin."

Dr Gilmore said owners could give Adaptil, which manufacturers claimed had a 90 per cent success rate in reducing signs of stress and fear.

"Adaptil is a pheromone, it's a feel-good hormone that is released by a mother dog to calm and reassure her puppies. The manufacturers have made a synthetic version of this, so when a puppy or a dog inhales it's picked up through a gland in their nose and has a calming effect," he said.

Dr Gilmore said it could work effectively "some of the time, but not always".

He also said a thunder shirt bought from pet stores could work, but all alternatives depended on trial and error as each dog was different.

Vets stress the best advice is for owners to keep their pets inside.

Animal Emergency Service director and veterinary specialist Rob Webster encourages people to bring in lost pets to his centres, where they are provided with a warm bed, food and first aid.

"I'd like to encourage people to bring lost pets to us when we are open outside normal business hours. There is no fee for dropping off a lost pet or injured wild animal," he said.

"They are safe when they get to us, whereas on the streets they are at high risk of vehicle trauma, ticks, snakes and other animals.

"We don't release pets to people without ID, and work closely with council and RSPCA to get everyone back to their families. We are one of the few places people can bring lost pets out of hours, especially if injured."

Dr Webster said he expected to see more missing dogs over the new year and urged people to know where to take missing dogs.

Georgia Taylor, 21, said she made sure her cavoodle Lucy was kept inside during a thunderstorm with a few treats and her favourite toy.


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