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Most dogs are scared of thunder—so much so that experts believe dogs suffer from thunderstorm phobia.
But what is incredible is how dogs will sense the thunderstorm long before it hits and this can be good and bad at the same time.
On one hand, dogs can give an early signal that a bad storm is brewing, so you won’t get caught pants down.
But on the other hand, there is no telling how your dog will react to it—in some cases, the dog may go on a destruction spree while other dogs may even run outside where they will be more exposed to lightning.
But Do Dogs Attract Lightning?
This is a myth that stems from the fact that dogs can sense a storm before it arrives.
When a thunderstorm is forming, there is a huge static electricity buildup in the clouds.
Canine experts believe that dogs can sense this static electricity even when they are indoors and long before humans can physically spot any signs of a coming storm.
Apart from static electricity, dogs can also pick up on changes in barometric pressure as well as a change in ions.
When a storm is brewing, ions in the atmosphere will change and this may cause the external signals to travel faster through their nervous system.
The Dogs will typically feel a tingling sensation in their fur which will indicate to them that a storm is coming.
Additionally, dogs are very sensitive to their environment and they may also pick up on the disturbance of other animals (like birds) which may also discern a looming storm.
In short, dogs just know when a storm is coming but they cannot attract lightning as some may think.
See, for something to attract lightning, it will need to be a good conductor of electricity (like silver, copper, aluminum, steel, brass, and gold).
Since dogs are not good conductors of electricity, they cannot attract electricity.
Are Dogs More Likely To Get Struck By Lightning (Compared To Other Pets)?
It is not easy to say with certainty if dogs are more at risk to be struck by lightning because there are lots of variables.
For instance, it is not uncommon for some dogs to run outside in a thunderstorm which is usually due to the stress of thunderstorm phobia.
Other pets (e.g. cats) wouldn’t respond like that but will instead try to remain indoors if they can.
So in such a scenario, it would be accurate to say that dogs are more at risk than cats and other pets.
However, the scale may tilt in an outdoor situation.
Dogs will most likely start running around barking while cats will duck for cover.
If there is a car around, there is a very good chance your cat will take cover under the car.
Unfortunately, that is the unsafety place for your cat when lightning hits.
Even though the inside of the car is relatively safe, under it may get your cat hit.
That’s because the metal of the car will conduct electricity which will flow through the car and into the ground.
By hiding under the car, your cat will become part of the circuit which will expose him to injury or even death.
So, in such an instance, cats would be more likely to get struck by lightning than dogs.
Generally speaking, however, larger animals are more at risk of being struck by lightning than smaller ones.
Not only that but studies have also shown that larger animals are also more likely to suffer adversely and even die from lightning strikes.
Going by this, we can infer that compared to smaller pets, dogs are more susceptible to getting struck by lightning since dogs are typically bigger.
How Often Do Dogs Get Struck By Lightning?
It is a fact that dogs, just like other animals, get struck by lightning.
As for how often that happens, it wouldn’t be easy to come up with a figure because there is no official data or research on the topic.
Besides, it is almost impossible to know how many dogs are outside during a storm which would expose them to a strike.
As of now, we only have some anecdotal evidence from eyewitness accounts.
For instance, Arden Moore narrates her near-death experience with her dogs when they narrowly missed a lightning strike.
At best, we can make an inference based on such reports that lots of dogs get struck by lightning and some of them even die.
But at the moment, we do not have enough information to know how often it happens.
What Does Lightning Do To Dogs?
Lightning is a powerful and dangerous natural phenomenon that can have a significant impact on animals, including dogs.
While lightning strikes are rare, they can cause serious injuries or even death in dogs.
One of the most common ways that lightning can harm dogs is through direct strikes.
If your dog is outside during a lightning storm and is hit by a bolt of lightning, he can suffer from severe burns, broken bones, and other injuries.
In some cases, the electrical charge from a lightning strike can cause cardiac arrest or other life-threatening conditions.
Even if your dog is not directly struck by lightning, he can still be harmed by the intense heat and pressure created by a strike.
This can cause injuries such as burns, singed fur, and damage to the lungs and other internal organs.
Additionally, dogs can be injured by falling debris or by being thrown through the air if they are close to a strike.
Lightning can also have a psychological impact on dogs. The thunder and bright flashes of light can cause dogs to become anxious, stressed, or frightened.
This can lead to behavior problems such as destructive chewing, digging, or escaping from the house or yard.
Steps To Help Protect Your Pet from Lightning
The CDC recommends protecting your dog and other pets from the dangers of lightning by keeping them indoors during thunderstorms.
If you must take your dog out during a storm, be sure to keep them on a leash and avoid open areas where they could be struck by lightning.
You should also take steps to help them feel calm and safe during a storm, such as providing them with a cozy hiding spot or playing calming music.
It’s also important to be mindful of the aftermath of the storm.
Dogs can be affected by post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) just like humans can.
In such cases, dogs may display signs of anxiety, fear, and/or aggression.
If your dog is showing signs of PTSD, consult with your vet for the best cause of action.
Have you ever noticed how your dog always knows a storm is coming even before you suspected anything?
What did you make of it?
Well, at least we can rule out the myth of dogs attracting storms – or lightning for that matter.
As a rule of thumb, take some precautionary steps to keep your furry friend safe.
For instance, you want to avoid using any jewelry on your dog that might be made from materials that are good conductors of electricity.
Also, try to keep your dog indoors during a nasty storm.
And if your dog gets hit, be sure to take him to the vet – even if you don’t see any signs of injury.
Last Updated on January 23, 2023 by
Sable McNeil is a canine chef, professional pet blogger, and proud owner of two male dogs. I have been an animal lover all my life, with dogs holding a special place in my heart. Initially, I created this blog to share recipes, tips, and any relevant information on healthy homemade dog treats. But because of my unrelenting passion to make a difference in the world of dogs, I have expanded the blog’s scope to include the best information and recommendations about everything dog lovers need to know about their canine friends’ health and wellbeing. My mission now is to find the most helpful content on anything related to dogs and share it with fellow hardworking hound lovers. While everything I share is in line with the latest evidence-based veterinarian health guidelines, nothing should be construed as veterinary advice. Please contact your vet in all matters regarding your Fido’s health.