By Nan Talleno

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – During and after a traumatic storm, it is extremely important to remember that your pets can experience extreme stress and anxiety from the traumatic change in environment due to the weather.

They are unable to understand or process what is going on around them and they may be behaving in a type of survival mode. Add to that the excitement level generated by people and activities surrounding them, it isn’t any wonder that they would react in a fearful and distressful way.

Exercise patience, compassion and understanding if your dog acts in a strange and unfamiliar way, such as unexpectantly soiling in an inappropriate area. This is only natural, especially if his/her area is flooded or too dangerous to approach.

Never punish or yell at your dog for soiling. Understand that your dog is confused and needs to be shown an appropriate alternate area.

Look also for other types of behaviors such as excessive barking, howling or whining, unexpected growling or even nipping or simply retreating to a quiet area. With cats, it may be excessive vocalizations, attention seeking behavior or retreat.

Create a safe area for your dog/cat to retreat. Never ever punish your dog or cat for feeling naturally fearful. Instead keep the structure as normal as possible. Speak in a calm and soothing voice. Reinforce and praise the positive behavior.

As the storm passes, your dogs and cats will also feel as relieved as we do.

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