Dogs are known for their acute senses.
Some people believe that dogs can sense when a storm is coming, and that they know to take cover.
Do dogs really have some sort of sixth sense when it comes to thunderstorms?
There is no exact science to say that dogs can sense lightning but their superior senses of smell and hearing means that they may be able to smell atmospheric changes caused by lightning and hear the sound of thunder long before humans are able to.
How can a dog smell lightning?
Dogs have a sense of smell that is up to 10,000 times stronger than a human’s.
They also have the ability to smell in stereo, meaning they can locate the source of a scent.
Some believe that dogs can smell static electricity in the air before a storm, which may be what alerts them that something is coming.
It is known that lightning can cause ozone in the air due to it’s violent heating of the air around the lightning bolt and most people are able to discern this smell.
If this odour is detectable to humans then it is highly likely that dogs can also detect it, at great distance and in very small quantities.
Can dogs hear thunder?
Thunder is the noise that is produced when electrical discharges occur in the atmosphere, which are known as lightning.
Given that dogs have much better hearing than humans they will be able to hear thunder at much greater distances than people as well as detect the sounds at different frequencies and intensity levels.
They can hear sounds at frequencies that we cannot, which means they may be able to hear the sound of thunder long before we can.
What do dogs do when they sense a storm?
Some dogs will seek shelter when they sense a storm is coming.
This could be because they can smell the lightning or hear the thunder.
They may also show signs of anxiety, such as pacing, panting or shaking.
Some dogs will try to find their owner when they are afraid, while others will hide under furniture or in their crate.
If your dog is showing signs of anxiety during a storm, it is important to try to stay calm and provide reassurance.
You could put on a Thundershirt, which is a type of vest that applies gentle pressure to help calm dogs during a storm.
You could also try using calming aids such as pheromone diffusers or sprays, which can help to reduce your dog’s anxiety.
If your dog is extremely fearful of storms, you may need to consult with a veterinary behaviourist to help them manage their fear.
What does lightning do to dogs?
Although there is nothing substantial to prove this, some suggest that the static electricity in the air, that is caused by lightening, is picked up by the dog’s hair and that this results in strange behaviour in some dogs during storms.
It is also suggested that dogs can detect changes in barometric pressure, which occur during lightning storms, and that this can also trigger reactions in some breeds.
Can dogs be struck by lightning?
Dogs can be struck by lightning and, although there are no real statistics that hold details of dog deaths, the potential for a dog to be injured or fatally wounded is as real as it is for people.
If you are outdoors with your dog during a storm, make sure you stay away from open fields, tall trees or anything else that could attract lightning and, if you do get caught out in the open, the best option is to get as low as possible to reduce the chances of being struck.
Vehicles and buildings are among the safest places to take cover and you should try to remain indoors with your dog until the storm has passed over.
It is also important to keep your dog on a leash during a storm so they cannot run off and put themselves in danger.
Dogs do seem to be able to detect lightning well before humans know that a storm is on the way.
Whether this is due to superior senses of smell and hearing or some other ability that we do not know about, remains to be proven by science, but, as any dog owner knows, their pet does seem to know when a storm is on the horizon.