Is My Dog Having a Panic Attack? How to Know

Imagine waking up one-morning expecting sunshine with a clear blue sky only to find out it is going to rain and thunderstorm for the next several days.

Checking the weather app on your phone, you plan around the rain for the rest of the week and reschedule that one appointment you just made the day before.

Suddenly, the rain outside pours harder, beating on all the windows and the roof loudly, and the thunder outside shake the entire house as if it was mimicking an earthquake.

Thinking nothing of it, you sink back in bed, drifting back to sleep. Your furry friend dart into your room, yelping and barking like a mad hound from hell, and confused why he is not calm like he used to be.

Glancing out the window, you see the water flooding the driveway. Looking back at your dog, you see that he’s scared and does not know how to handle this instant change of events. You sink deeper into your bed, trying to figure out how to prepare for your dog’s panic attack better.

Understanding the panic attack in dogs

Going online to research why your dog is behaving weird, you discover that he is having a panic attack as a result of the thunderstorm. For dogs, a panic attack is an intense, unidentifiable, or unpredictable fear that happens with little to no warning.

Even if the thunderstorm wasn’t the cause, it can still happen if there are loud noises, surrounded in unfamiliar territory, or isolated from his owner. Just like people, it can last for as little as a few hours up to several weeks, depending on the severity of the attack.

A panic attack versus an anxiety attack

Taking another step further is knowing the difference between a panic attack and an anxiety attack. You may ask yourself, ‘What if he’s having a nasty case of anxiety and this isn’t necessarily a panic attack?’

Truth be told, there is a major difference between panic and anxiety attacks. The core factor between the two is the timing of the effect of the attack. With panic attacks, it flashes with no notice.

The feeling of the panic attack also creates rapid heart rate, shaking, shortness of breath, and lightheadedness. With anxiety attacks, the feeling is gradual. Over time, whether minutes, hours, days, or weeks, signs of anxiety build up to where it can linger over for interminable periods of time.

Never fear, prevention is here!

After knowing what your dog is going through, now it is time to practice with calming him down. Starting to get up, you walk over to your dog like normal to pet him behind the ears.

He notices you moving towards him but runs to the other room and hide under the bed. Confused, you follow him to the room and turn on the light. Now what?

Remember, your dog is not in a stable state of mind and is very jumpy. The best way to approach this situation is through exposure and stimulation. For example, the thunder was so loud to where the vibrations shook the house.

Carefully, play low recordings of thunder crashing, or a calming rainforest storm to help reduce his panic attack.

If that method does not work, then try body movement. Please do not physically move your dog around while he is having a panic attack. The chances of him retaliating can be high, and the outcome of a cheerful home will dwindle away.

Begin helping him control his breathing by slowing it down. Then gently extend your hand towards your furry friend while calmly saying ‘yes’ or ‘good puppy’ to show that you mean no harm.

Reminding your puppy he’s in a safe place, even if it is under the bed is a wonderful way to reduce his attack.

Finally, slow strokes on the head and behind the ears will encourage your dog to regulate his breathing and relax. The goal is to calm your baby down and prevent any chances of a future panic attack to occur.

Yes, people are the same way

Believe it or not, dogs and their owners go hand in hand with panic attacks. Preventing a panic attack may sound easy to do, however, it takes time and quick thinking.

Just like with your pet, doing slow and deep breathing exercises help reduce the chances of the attack from happening.

Also, focusing on a specific object that you find, relaxing your muscles, and going to your happy place also help with reducing a panic attack. Once you have a clear state of mind, you’ll be able to think more effectively and not spiral out of mental or emotional control.

Therapy is always an option

If your dog is still having trouble with handling loud noises, isolation, or battling panic attacks, then therapy can be an option to consider.

Yes, it is common for your dog to see a pet psychologist get the necessary help and support he needs.

Sometimes their panic attack can come off as a behavioral problem. In other situations, your pet is trying to find a way to fully express themselves without feeling like he is a “bad dog”.


Dogs have organic treats to help calm them from anxiety or a panic attack. Brands like PetHonesty, Panic Aide, Petlab Co., and NaturVet are great to use with your furry friend.

You can go to your local PetCo, PetSmart, or shop online with either Chewy or Amazon, to find the right treats for your dog.

There’s also aromatherapy available to soothe you and your pet when having an emergency meltdown. Of course, the best medication, if all else fails, is to give your dog will always be love, affection, and an abundant amount of attention.

Understanding emotions

Do you think that dogs are complex creatures? Do you believe that no matter how many times we give them basic commands, they just won’t listen? Have you ever considered understanding what your dog is going through, and how they are feeling?

Once you know what your dog is going through, communication will be so much easier between pet and owner. For humans, we communicate with verbal and body language.

It is easy for us to express ourselves, whether if we are happy or sad. Our dogs can express themselves the same way but in a more unique manner. Dogs can read and sense human emotions.

They observe people’s facial expressions, body language, and tone in their voice. Even if the dog cannot understand the current language currently being spoken, they can still pick up on positive or negative sounds from that person.

In a nutshell, taking the time to know your dog’s strengths and weaknesses can help strengthen the bond between owner and pet.

Dog’s are not complex creatures, and they are out of the box thinkers in their natural way. By making time to spend with your dog, you can learn a lot, and prevent any future panic attacks from occurring.

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