Debarking Pet Myths: Dogs Can Predict a Natural Disaster

Welcome back to “Debarking Pet Myths,” a monthly series dedicated to addressing common myths, misconceptions and old wives’ tales about dogs and cats.

The belief that animals, including our canine companions, can predict earthquakes and other natural disasters has been around for centuries. You can find plenty of stories about animals behaving strangely or fleeing an area before a major earthquake, tsunami or hurricane strikes. For example:

  • In India, eyewitnesses reported that elephants broke free and ran for higher ground before the December 26, 2004, Indian Ocean tsunami.
  • Researchers examined groundwater for chemical changes after toads abandoned their pond five days before an earthquake struck L’Aquila, Italy, in 2009.
  • In Florida, researchers studying tagged sharks observed that the fish flee to deeper water just before a big hurricane arrives.

But can your dog predict or provide an early warning that a big earthquake is about to shake things up?

Maybe. But maybe not.

Researchers in Japan, one of the world’s most earthquake-prone countries, have conducted most of the studies that have investigated what animals hear or feel before an earthquake so they can use that sense as a prediction tool. The most common unusual behavior displayed by dogs and cats prior to an earthquake was found to be restless behavior. However, scientists also concluded that more research is needed.

American seismologists with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) are skeptical, especially since many studies ask pet owners to recall changes in pet behavior after the quake occurred. USGS scientists have also studied animals’ ability to predict earthquakes — back in the 1970s. They didn’t find a reproducible connection between a specific behavior and the occurrence of an earthquake. In fact, USGS researchers had this to say about their findings:

Changes in animal behavior cannot be used to predict earthquakes. Even though there have been documented cases of unusual animal behavior prior to earthquakes, a reproducible connection between a specific behavior and the occurrence of an earthquake has not been made. Because of their finely tuned senses, animals can often feel the earthquake at its earliest stages before the humans around it can. This feeds the myth that the animal knew the earthquake was coming. But animals also change their behavior for many reasons, and given that an earthquake can shake millions of people, it is likely that a few of their pets will, by chance, be acting strangely before an earthquake.

That being said, many scientists agree that animals hear and feel things that humans can’t and that they use their senses, especially hearing, very efficiently. For example, elephants are among a handful of animals known to be able to hear “infrasound,” sound with frequencies below 20 hertz (Hz). Infrasound can travel long distances through the ground, air and water, and is produced by natural phenomena such as earthquakes, volcanoes and hurricanes. In fact, earthquakes produce several distinct infrasound pulses that can travel thousands of miles, and hurricanes produce their own distinctive infrasound signature. Knowing this, researchers suspect some animals — such as elephants — can hear danger approaching.

What about dogs?

Dogs can hear sounds created by a substantially wider frequency range than people. Their sense of hearing is second only to their keen sense of smell. While human hearing covers an audible range of 31 to 17,000 hertz (Hz), dogs hear sounds in the frequency range of 67 Hz to 44,000 Hz. Although the audible range can vary among dogs and with the loudness of the sound, it’s unlikely that dogs hear infrasound.

Other researchers suspect that the canine sense of smell, which is 10,000 to 100,000 times more sensitive than the human sense, may allow them to detect electrical changes in the air or gases released from the earth before a storm or other natural event.

Precisely what animals sense, if anything, remains to be determined — and it could remain a mystery for decades to come. Until we better understand animal behavior, relying on your dog to predict natural disasters could prove dangerous. Awareness and preparedness are the keys to surviving sudden, unpredictable and unpreventable events. Know what could happen where you live, have an emergency kit with necessities, and have a plan in place in case the unthinkable happens.

Mostly False | Dogs Can Predict a Natural Disaster

RELATED POST: Are You Prepared for a Pet Health Emergency?

RELATED POST: Would You Know How to Find Your Pet After Disaster Strikes?

The information in this blog has been developed with our veterinarian and is designed to help educate pet parents. If you have questions or concerns about your pet's health or nutrition, please talk with your veterinarian.

Search

  • Where to Buy Diamond Pet Food Near Me
    [gravityform id="22" ajax="true"]
    <div class='gf_browser_chrome gform_wrapper gravity-theme scoop-form_wrapper' id='gform_wrapper_22' style='display:none'><div id='gf_22' class='gform_anchor' tabindex='-1'></div> <div class='gform_heading'> <h2 class="gform_title">The Scoop Newsletter</h2> <span class='gform_description'></span> <p class='gform_required_legend'>&quot;<span class="gfield_required gfield_required_asterisk">*</span>&quot; indicates required fields</p> </div><form method='post' enctype='multipart/form-data' target='gform_ajax_frame_22' id='gform_22' class='scoop-form' action='/blog/culture/myths/can-dogs-predict-a-natural-disaster-debarking-pet-myths/#gf_22' > <div class='gform_body gform-body'><div id='gform_fields_22' class='gform_fields top_label form_sublabel_below description_below'><div id="field_22_8" class="gfield gfield--width-full gfield_html gfield_html_formatted gfield_no_follows_desc field_sublabel_below field_description_below gfield_visibility_visible" ><p class="sign-up-text">Sign up to receive email communications, including our <span style="white-space:nowrap;">e-newsletter</span>, The Scoop, where you can be the first to know about social contests, new blog posts and more!</p></div><fieldset id="field_22_1" class="gfield field_sublabel_hidden_label field_description_below hidden_label gfield_visibility_visible" ><legend class='gfield_label gfield_label_before_complex' >Name</legend><div class='ginput_complex ginput_container no_prefix has_first_name no_middle_name has_last_name no_suffix gf_name_has_2 ginput_container_name' id='input_22_1'> <span id='input_22_1_3_container' class='name_first' > <input type='text' name='input_1.3' id='input_22_1_3' value='' aria-label='First name' aria-required='false' placeholder='FIRST NAME' /> <label for='input_22_1_3' class='hidden_sub_label screen-reader-text'>First</label> </span> <span id='input_22_1_6_container' class='name_last' > <input type='text' name='input_1.6' id='input_22_1_6' value='' aria-label='Last name' aria-required='false' placeholder='LAST NAME' /> <label for='input_22_1_6' class='hidden_sub_label screen-reader-text'>Last</label> </span> </div></fieldset></fieldset><div id="field_22_2" class="gfield gfield--width-full gfield_contains_required field_sublabel_below field_description_below hidden_label gfield_visibility_visible" ><label class='gfield_label' for='input_22_2' >Email<span class="gfield_required"><span class="gfield_required gfield_required_asterisk"> * <span class='sr-only'> Required</span></span></span></label><div class='ginput_container ginput_container_email'> <input name='input_2' id='input_22_2' type='text' value='' class='large' placeholder='EMAIL ADDRESS' aria-required="true" aria-invalid="false" /> </div></div><fieldset id="field_22_3" class="gfield gfield--width-full pet-parent-radio gfield_contains_required field_sublabel_below field_description_above hidden_label gfield_visibility_visible" ><legend class='gfield_label' >PROUD PARENT OF A<span class="gfield_required"><span class="gfield_required gfield_required_asterisk"> * <span class='sr-only'> Required</span></span></span></legend><div class='gfield_description' id='gfield_description_22_3'>PROUD PARENT OF A</div><div class='ginput_container ginput_container_radio'><div class='gfield_radio' id='input_22_3'> <div class='gchoice gchoice_22_3_0'> <input class='gfield-choice-input' name='input_3' type='radio' value='DOG' id='choice_22_3_0' onchange='gformToggleRadioOther( this )' aria-describedby="gfield_description_22_3" /> <label for='choice_22_3_0' id='label_22_3_0'>DOG</label> </div> <div class='gchoice gchoice_22_3_1'> <input class='gfield-choice-input' name='input_3' type='radio' value='CAT' id='choice_22_3_1' onchange='gformToggleRadioOther( this )' /> <label for='choice_22_3_1' id='label_22_3_1'>CAT</label> </div> <div class='gchoice gchoice_22_3_2'> <input class='gfield-choice-input' name='input_3' type='radio' value='BOTH' id='choice_22_3_2' onchange='gformToggleRadioOther( this )' /> <label for='choice_22_3_2' id='label_22_3_2'>BOTH</label> </div></div></div></fieldset></fieldset><div id="field_22_7" class="gfield gfield--width-full gfield_html gfield_html_formatted field_sublabel_below field_description_below gfield_visibility_visible" ><button class="dropdown-toggle" type="button" id="puppy-drop" data-toggle="dropdown" aria-haspopup="true" aria-expanded="false">DO YOU HAVE A PUPPY?*</button></div><fieldset id="field_22_6" class="gfield gfield--width-full scoop-puppy-radios gfield_contains_required field_sublabel_below field_description_above hidden_label gfield_visibility_visible" ><legend class='gfield_label' >Do you have a Puppy?<span class="gfield_required"><span class="gfield_required gfield_required_asterisk"> * <span class='sr-only'> Required</span></span></span></legend><div class='gfield_description' id='gfield_description_22_6'>*By answering "Yes" to this question, you agree to receive the <i>Puppy Love</i> email series</div><div class='ginput_container ginput_container_radio'><div class='gfield_radio' id='input_22_6'> <div class='gchoice gchoice_22_6_0'> <input class='gfield-choice-input' name='input_6' type='radio' value='NO' id='choice_22_6_0' onchange='gformToggleRadioOther( this )' aria-describedby="gfield_description_22_6" /> <label for='choice_22_6_0' id='label_22_6_0'>NO</label> </div> <div class='gchoice gchoice_22_6_1'> <input class='gfield-choice-input' name='input_6' type='radio' value='Yes - 1 month old (or younger)' id='choice_22_6_1' onchange='gformToggleRadioOther( this )' /> <label for='choice_22_6_1' id='label_22_6_1'>Yes, they're 1 month old</label> </div> <div class='gchoice gchoice_22_6_2'> <input class='gfield-choice-input' name='input_6' type='radio' value='Yes - 2 months old' id='choice_22_6_2' onchange='gformToggleRadioOther( this )' /> <label for='choice_22_6_2' id='label_22_6_2'>Yes, they're 2 months old</label> </div> <div class='gchoice gchoice_22_6_3'> <input class='gfield-choice-input' name='input_6' type='radio' value='Yes - 3 months old' id='choice_22_6_3' onchange='gformToggleRadioOther( this )' /> <label for='choice_22_6_3' id='label_22_6_3'>Yes, they're 3 months old</label> </div> <div class='gchoice gchoice_22_6_4'> <input class='gfield-choice-input' name='input_6' type='radio' value='Yes - 4 months old' id='choice_22_6_4' onchange='gformToggleRadioOther( this )' /> <label for='choice_22_6_4' id='label_22_6_4'>Yes, they're 4 months old</label> </div> <div class='gchoice gchoice_22_6_5'> <input class='gfield-choice-input' name='input_6' type='radio' value='Yes - 5 months old' id='choice_22_6_5' onchange='gformToggleRadioOther( this )' /> <label for='choice_22_6_5' id='label_22_6_5'>Yes, they're 5 months old</label> </div> <div class='gchoice gchoice_22_6_6'> <input class='gfield-choice-input' name='input_6' type='radio' value='Yes - 6 months old' id='choice_22_6_6' onchange='gformToggleRadioOther( this )' /> <label for='choice_22_6_6' id='label_22_6_6'>Yes, they're 6 months old</label> </div> <div class='gchoice gchoice_22_6_7'> <input class='gfield-choice-input' name='input_6' type='radio' value='Yes - 7 months old' id='choice_22_6_7' onchange='gformToggleRadioOther( this )' /> <label for='choice_22_6_7' id='label_22_6_7'>Yes, they're 7 months old</label> </div> <div class='gchoice gchoice_22_6_8'> <input class='gfield-choice-input' name='input_6' type='radio' value='Yes - 8 months old' id='choice_22_6_8' onchange='gformToggleRadioOther( this )' /> <label for='choice_22_6_8' id='label_22_6_8'>Yes, they're 8 months old</label> </div> <div class='gchoice gchoice_22_6_9'> <input class='gfield-choice-input' name='input_6' type='radio' value='Yes - 9 months old' id='choice_22_6_9' onchange='gformToggleRadioOther( this )' /> <label for='choice_22_6_9' id='label_22_6_9'>Yes, they're 9 months old</label> </div> <div class='gchoice gchoice_22_6_10'> <input class='gfield-choice-input' name='input_6' type='radio' value='Yes - 10 months old' id='choice_22_6_10' onchange='gformToggleRadioOther( this )' /> <label for='choice_22_6_10' id='label_22_6_10'>Yes, they're 10 months old</label> </div> <div class='gchoice gchoice_22_6_11'> <input class='gfield-choice-input' name='input_6' type='radio' value='Yes - 11 months old' id='choice_22_6_11' onchange='gformToggleRadioOther( this )' /> <label for='choice_22_6_11' id='label_22_6_11'>Yes, they're 11 months old</label> </div> <div class='gchoice gchoice_22_6_12'> <input class='gfield-choice-input' name='input_6' type='radio' value='Yes - 12 months old' id='choice_22_6_12' onchange='gformToggleRadioOther( this )' /> <label for='choice_22_6_12' id='label_22_6_12'>Yes, they're 12 months old</label> </div></div></div></fieldset></fieldset><fieldset id="field_22_9" class="gfield gfield--width-full field_sublabel_below field_description_below hidden_label gfield_visibility_hidden" ><div class='admin-hidden-markup'><i class='gform-icon gform-icon--hidden'></i><span>Hidden</span></div><legend class='gfield_label gfield_label_before_complex' >Newsletter Subscribe</legend><div class='ginput_container ginput_container_checkbox'><div class='gfield_checkbox' id='input_22_9'><div class='gchoice gchoice_22_9_1'> <input class='gfield-choice-input' name='input_9.1' type='checkbox' value='Company Newsletters, Contests &amp; More' checked='checked' id='choice_22_9_1' /> <label for='choice_22_9_1' id='label_22_9_1'>Company Newsletters, Contests & More</label> </div><div class='gchoice gchoice_22_9_2'> <input class='gfield-choice-input' name='input_9.2' type='checkbox' value='Puppy Love for your pup&#039;s first year?' checked='checked' id='choice_22_9_2' /> <label for='choice_22_9_2' id='label_22_9_2'>Puppy Love for your pup's first year?</label> </div></div></div></fieldset></fieldset><div id="field_22_10" class="gfield gfield--width-full field_sublabel_below field_description_below hidden_label gfield_visibility_hidden" ><div class='admin-hidden-markup'><i class='gform-icon gform-icon--hidden'></i><span>Hidden</span></div><label class='gfield_label' for='input_22_10' >No Puppy subscribe</label><div class='ginput_container ginput_container_text'><input name='input_10' id='input_22_10' type='text' value='Company Newsletters, Contests &amp; More' class='large' aria-invalid="false" /> </div></div><div id="field_22_11" class="gfield gfield--width-full gform_hidden field_sublabel_below field_description_below gfield_visibility_visible" ><div class='ginput_container ginput_container_text'><input name='input_11' id='input_22_11' type='hidden' class='gform_hidden' aria-invalid="false" value='The Scoop PopUp' /></div></div></div></div> <div class='gform_footer top_label'> <input type="submit" id="gform_submit_button_22" class="gform_button button om-trigger-conversion scoop-pupout-submit-btn" value="I WANT THE SCOOP!" onclick='if(window["gf_submitting_22"]){return false;} window["gf_submitting_22"]=true; ' onkeypress='if( event.keyCode == 13 ){ if(window["gf_submitting_22"]){return false;} window["gf_submitting_22"]=true; jQuery("#gform_22").trigger("submit",[true]); }'> <input type='hidden' name='gform_ajax' value='form_id=22&amp;title=1&amp;description=1&amp;tabindex=0' /> <input type='hidden' class='gform_hidden' name='is_submit_22' value='1' /> <input type='hidden' class='gform_hidden' name='gform_submit' value='22' /> <input type='hidden' class='gform_hidden' name='gform_unique_id' value='' /> <input type='hidden' class='gform_hidden' name='state_22' value='WyJbXSIsIjMxNWNiMzMzODYwMmM1N2FiZWEyMTM0ZDJlYTQ2NGMyIl0=' /> <input type='hidden' class='gform_hidden' name='gform_target_page_number_22' id='gform_target_page_number_22' value='0' /> <input type='hidden' class='gform_hidden' name='gform_source_page_number_22' id='gform_source_page_number_22' value='1' /> <input type='hidden' name='gform_field_values' value='' /> </div> </form> </div> <iframe style='display:none;width:0px;height:0px;' src='about:blank' name='gform_ajax_frame_22' id='gform_ajax_frame_22' title='This iframe contains the logic required to handle Ajax powered Gravity Forms.'></iframe> <script type="text/javascript"> gform.initializeOnLoaded( function() {gformInitSpinner( 22, 'https://www.diamondpet.com/wp-content/plugins/gravityforms/images/spinner.svg' );jQuery('#gform_ajax_frame_22').on('load',function(){var contents = jQuery(this).contents().find('*').html();var is_postback = contents.indexOf('GF_AJAX_POSTBACK') >= 0;if(!is_postback){return;}var form_content = jQuery(this).contents().find('#gform_wrapper_22');var is_confirmation = jQuery(this).contents().find('#gform_confirmation_wrapper_22').length > 0;var is_redirect = contents.indexOf('gformRedirect(){') >= 0;var is_form = form_content.length > 0 && ! is_redirect && ! is_confirmation;var mt = parseInt(jQuery('html').css('margin-top'), 10) + parseInt(jQuery('body').css('margin-top'), 10) + 100;if(is_form){jQuery('#gform_wrapper_22').html(form_content.html());if(form_content.hasClass('gform_validation_error')){jQuery('#gform_wrapper_22').addClass('gform_validation_error');} else {jQuery('#gform_wrapper_22').removeClass('gform_validation_error');}setTimeout( function() { /* delay the scroll by 50 milliseconds to fix a bug in chrome */ jQuery(document).scrollTop(jQuery('#gform_wrapper_22').offset().top - mt); }, 50 );if(window['gformInitDatepicker']) {gformInitDatepicker();}if(window['gformInitPriceFields']) {gformInitPriceFields();}var current_page = jQuery('#gform_source_page_number_22').val();gformInitSpinner( 22, 'https://www.diamondpet.com/wp-content/plugins/gravityforms/images/spinner.svg' );jQuery(document).trigger('gform_page_loaded', [22, current_page]);window['gf_submitting_22'] = false;}else if(!is_redirect){var confirmation_content = jQuery(this).contents().find('.GF_AJAX_POSTBACK').html();if(!confirmation_content){confirmation_content = contents;}setTimeout(function(){jQuery('#gform_wrapper_22').replaceWith(confirmation_content);jQuery(document).scrollTop(jQuery('#gf_22').offset().top - mt);jQuery(document).trigger('gform_confirmation_loaded', [22]);window['gf_submitting_22'] = false;wp.a11y.speak(jQuery('#gform_confirmation_message_22').text());}, 50);}else{jQuery('#gform_22').append(contents);if(window['gformRedirect']) {gformRedirect();}}jQuery(document).trigger('gform_post_render', [22, current_page]);} );} ); </script>