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Old 17.09.2011, 23:18
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Barometric Dog

Last night Lily crawled to the top of the bed and almost slept on my head. Tonight she was panting and licking. Both nights, it was before it started to rain hard, and last night it started when it thundered. Now that it's started to rain hard, she's fast asleep.

In the US, thunder didn't seem to bother her, but here it does. It might be because it's louder and echoes. But I also wonder that she senses the change in barometric pressure. And i wonder if the atmospheric pressure changes are more extreme and/or she's learned to associate pressure changes with thunder. I was reading an older entry on Patricia McConnell's blog (theotherendoftheleash.com), where people were commenting about stressed dogs especially during the change of seasons (summer to autumn) in the Midwest, so this makes sense.

So does anyone notice odd behaviors in their pets prior to storms?
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Old 17.09.2011, 23:51
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Re: Barometric Dog

Dogs have paranasal sinuses, i.e. air-filled cavities in the skull bones, which, like those of humans, may temporarily be separated from the nasal cavity when the ventilation ducts get obstructed by a (minor) swelling of the mucous membranes.

That means, some air is trapped inside the sinus, like a bubble in the bone. The pressure of the air is roughly the same as the external atmospheric pressure was at the moment the ventilation duct was shut.

Now imagine a storm front rushing in, causing a sharp drop of the air pressure, while the air inside the sinus bubble still has the same pressure as before. That means, the bubble air exerts a fairly strong pressure on the structures surrounding it.

Some of those structures are nerves. In the human maxillary sinus that's mainly nerves from the teeth and gums to the brain; I'm not sure what nerves are affected in a dog's skull. Anyway, those nerves start sending distress signals to the brain. In humans that can be perceived as a toothache, even in teeth that were extracted decades ago, a typical phantom pain. In dogs, I don't know, but I'm sure there are unpleasant or even downright painful sensations too. Barometric dog? Yes, exactly.

Of course there also is the possibility that the dogs learns to fear the harbingers of a thunderstorm for other reasons, and then react accordingly. I once had a collie who, for many years, did not even lift her head when a thunderstorm was raging -- until a lightning bolt cracked a little tree just about 10 m from the front door, causing a bang that sounded like the house was exploding. Ever since, even very distant thunder made her hide in the basement, trembling like an aspen leaf and chattering her teeth loud enough to be heard on the ground floor between thunderclaps.
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Last edited by Captain Greybeard; 18.09.2011 at 00:03.
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Old 17.09.2011, 23:53
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Re: Barometric Dog

Oh yes - my first collie. He was more accurate at predicting storms than the weather service.

His 'talent' came about in an awful way, though. After years of abuse, his first owner abandoned him tied out on a Hong Kong balcony. He was there for days, no food no water - and then a signal 8 typhoon hit.

He was hypersensitive to air pressure changes, and obviously connected a drop in air pressure to that awful time. For the rest of his life he would go into into panic mode when the pressure dropped. When I saw him head for the lowest lying interior space in the house, I knew I had 2 hours before the storm hit.

Poor guy - during a truly bad storm (or 1 August) he could panic himself into an almost catatonic state - it was heartbreaking.

None of my other dogs are/were this sensitive. Several have been afraid of storms, but didn't have the same 'early warning system'. In fact my Melon, my bear of very little brain, was also afraid of storms - but didn't have the sense to come in out of the rain. Ah well, what he lacked in brain power he more than made up for with a heart of gold.

But that from what I understand air-pressure sensitivity is not uncommon in dogs.
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Old 18.09.2011, 00:03
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Re: Barometric Dog

One of my dog starts to tremble about 30 minutes before a thunderstorm arrives; useful when we are on the boat. Hailstones in/on an open boat are not fun.
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Old 18.09.2011, 00:08
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Re: Barometric Dog

When my dog comes in wet, I know it's raining. Never fails. Uncanny.


On a more serious note, he does the same, gets above my head on the pillow just before a storm. My pet theory (boom boom) is that his better hearing picks up the thunder long before mine and knows to expect a much louder set of claps soon after.
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Old 18.09.2011, 00:17
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Re: Barometric Dog

For obvious reasons there are humans whose sinuses function like an early storm warning system too. For instance, people with teeth with a root canal treatment (new or old) or other scars in the upper jaw may notice strange sensations, even pain before a thunderstorm comes in, sometimes against all forecasts by weather theologists that say otherwise.
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Old 18.09.2011, 12:11
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Re: Barometric Dog

Our dog is also very sensitive and warns us of impending storms- mind you the biting flies do too.

Sadly, I've got barometric knees too
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Old 19.09.2011, 19:41
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Re: Barometric Dog

Sometimes I wonder if my dog is really alive she doesn't bat an eyelid through storms, thunder, fireworks or anything...

Point blank refuses to walk under the rain though. Does the quickest pee ever, and pulls at her leash to go back home looking reproachfully at me like it's MY fault it's raining on her...
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Old 19.09.2011, 19:55
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Re: Barometric Dog

That's not a dog you've got there, it's a lazy human male....
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Old 19.09.2011, 21:45
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Re: Barometric Dog

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That's not a dog you've got there, it's a lazy human male....
But it's a female dog?! A reincarnation following a bad karma?
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Old 19.09.2011, 21:50
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Re: Barometric Dog

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But it's a female dog?! A reincarnation following a bad karma?
which one was the bad karma ? being a female dog or a lazy human male ?
(funny that.... we say female dog and human male.... why not say dog female or male human ?)
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Old 19.09.2011, 21:53
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Re: Barometric Dog

Sheeba(dog) starts acting a bit restless. The cat (Falafel) starts meowing nonstop and running around the house
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Old 19.09.2011, 22:01
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Re: Barometric Dog

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Sometimes I wonder if my dog is really alive she doesn't bat an eyelid through storms, thunder, fireworks or anything...

Point blank refuses to walk under the rain though. Does the quickest pee ever, and pulls at her leash to go back home looking reproachfully at me like it's MY fault it's raining on her...
Had a dog like that too once upon a time (sung to the tune of "Had a dog once-upon-a-time")

My old Mum stayed up with him during a thunderstorm, stroking and soothing him (only about 8 weeks old and ever after he was oblivious of loud noises .....

Did she soothe it out of him? But he still retained his dis-like of water, excpet for drinking it.

Found himself one day, immersed in water, in a tidal pool on beach, because he`d exuberantly followed a bunch of wild kids .... and then tippy-toed himself out of it!

But after the "soothing" one could clang a hammer on steel next to his ears and he never even flinched.
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Old 19.09.2011, 22:10
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Re: Barometric Dog

I think that arriving as a puppy in a house full of the screaming, squeaking and giggling sounds of my toddler taught my dog that loud noise are part of normal life and now with the baby crying, no thunderstorm is noisier than that
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