Dogs Make Great Weather Forecasters, Zena Marchant Says
Dogs are naturally in tune with the world around them, environmentalist and meteorologist Zena Marchant says. Your dog can give you an accurate weather forecast if you just understand what they are trying to tell you.
Zena Marchant explains the remarkable ability of dogs to forecast the weather by their sensitivity to barometric pressure.
How Your Dog Senses Changes in Barometric Pressure
Dogs are a lot like humans in that they sense changes in barometric pressure. Warm air is lighter than cold air. Moist air is lighter than dry air.
Humans detect changes in air pressure by pain in their sinuses. Higher-pressure air inside the sinuses can’t easily get out, so lowering air pressure causes sinus pain.
Dogs, some veterinarians believe, are even more sensitive to falling air pressure, especially dogs with longer snouts. Dachshunds, greyhounds, and Airedale terriers are more sensitive to weather changes than pugs, bulldogs, and Cavalier King Charles spaniels.
Dogs can also sense changes in air pressure in their joints. Adding to the canine sensitivity to barometric pressure, dogs are also more sensitive to the sound of thunder and the smell of ozone and the earliest patter of raindrops than their humans.
Zena Marchant Explains How to Understand What Dogs Tell Us About the Weather
It’s great to have a canine meteorological savant in the family, but how can humans understand what their dogs are trying to tell them about the weather?
Zena Marchant lists some common clues:
- Some dogs get extremely agitated when a storm is approaching. They may bark and jump up into your lap to get your attention. They may howl and growl if you ignore them. Or they may become exceptionally clingy.
- Dogs can also telegraph the message that major changes in the weather are on the way. When changes in barometric pressure make their joints ache, they may limp and decline to play. They walk strangely and want to curl up and hide. Dogs that have arthritis or hip dysplasia are even less mobile than usual.
- Weather changes also affect canine sinuses. Lower barometric pressure makes canine sinuses drain. Dogs may have discharge from their noses ahead of a weather change. Or a weather change may make them seem more congested.
Once you see how the pattern of changes in your dog’s behavior relates to changes in the weather, you will have your own canine meteorologist. But do double check the canine weather forecast against the official forecast from the National Weather Service.
Taking Care of Your Dog During Weather Changes
Zena Marchant reminds dog lovers that canine sensitivity to the weather is an opportunity to provide comfort for your dog. Dogs are comforted by familiar scents. Surround your dog with familiar toys or their favorite (unwashed) blanket when they have to ride out a storm. Make sure your dog stays in a well-heated room when she gives you evidence of sinus problems. Be physically present to comfort your dog when storms produce thunder, wind, and lightning.
Paying attention to your dog’s ability to sense changes in the weather sometimes gives that tiny bit of extra warning that saves lives and property. Being aware of your dog’s weather sensitivities is always an opportunity to show them love.