Veterinary Hospital Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico; Private Practice in Small Animal Behavior
Fear could be part of a normal behavior and can be adaptive. We have to determine if fear is abnormal, inappropriate or maladaptive by the context in which it occurs.
Phobia: is the term used to refer to fear responses that are persistent over time, consistent in terms of what causes the fear. Phobias are learned, irrational and not adaptive.
Normal dogs may exhibit alerting responses and may show mild anxiety if there is a severe storm immediately around the house.
You can call a dog thunder phobic when symptoms are disproportionately intense relative to the stimuli and or when symptoms occur in response to innocuous stimuli.
Severe storms are a real challenge because there are multiple stimuli involved.
During a storm, animals show fear to various stimuli: wind, rain, lightening, thunder, clouds, luminosity variations, barometric pressure, etc. which may result in serious injury to the dog and significant damage to property. It also generates ill feelings on the part of the owners, thus damaging the human-animal relationship.
An important factor to consider is that an animal with storm phobias is subjected to a high degree of suffering, but most dogs if treated will get better, even though they can relapse during severe storms.
The purpose of this paper is to present an easy description of the common clinical signs showed by storm phobic dogs and the treatment methods used at the behavior service of the VH UNAM