Hepper is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Learn more.

Can Dogs Sense Earthquakes Before They Happen? Facts & FAQ

Nicole Cosgrove Profile Picture

By Nicole Cosgrove

golden doodle dog barking at home

There has been a long-standing belief that dogs can sense earthquakes before they happen. This idea has been the subject of many anecdotal stories and scientific studies. But can dogs predict earthquakes, or is it just a myth? There certainly seems to be evidence to support the theory.

We will explore the facts and answer some frequently asked questions to determine whether dogs possess this extraordinary ability.

Divider 2

Can Dogs Really Sense Earthquakes?

Research indicates that dogs may be able to detect subtle changes in the environment that precede an earthquake, such as changes in groundwater levels, electromagnetic fields, or ground vibrations.

However, there is not enough conclusive evidence to prove that dogs can predict earthquakes with certainty. Their behavior changes might also be attributed to other factors, such as weather changes or the presence of other animals.

That said, history shows that there’s been a belief that dogs can sense earthquakes dating all the way back to 373 B.C. Tying into this belief is a study conducted in 2001 that observed the behavior of 193 dogs just before a 6.8 earthquake hit the Pacific Northwest.1

Nearly half of all the dogs showed spiked anxiety and activity. So it would certainly seem that some canines have the ability to sense trouble brewing, earthquake or otherwise.

Divider 4

How Do Dogs React to Earthquakes?

dog hiding under the sofa
Image Credit: Aleksey Boyko, Shutterstock

When dogs sense something unusual, they typically exhibit specific behaviors. Some common reactions observed in dogs before earthquakes include:


Dogs may become agitated, pacing around, or unable to settle down.

Barking or Whining

They might bark or whine more than usual, seemingly without reason.


Dogs may seek refuge in a safe or enclosed space, like under furniture.


They might become unusually attached to their owners, following them around or seeking constant physical contact.

It is essential to note that these behaviors can be attributed to various factors and not necessarily an imminent earthquake.

Divider 4

Can Other Animals Sense Earthquakes?

Apart from dogs, several other animals are believed to have the ability to sense earthquakes. Some of these animals include:


Like dogs, cats have been observed displaying unusual behavior before earthquakes, such as excessive vocalization and hiding.


Elephants have been known to flee from the epicenter of an earthquake hours before it occurs, possibly due to their ability to detect low-frequency sounds and vibrations.


Snakes are believed to be sensitive to ground vibrations and may exhibit unusual behavior before an earthquake, such as leaving their burrows even in cold temperatures.

Given the reactions of these animals and those of dogs, one has to think that there’s something in them that triggers their perception of danger.

Divider 4

Tips to Protect Your Pet in an Earthquake

As a pet parent, you may feel helpless when it comes to natural disasters like earthquakes. But there are steps you can take to protect your furry family members and make sure they come out unscathed from any shaking ground. Here are some tips for protecting your pets during an earthquake:

  • Make sure your pet’s identification tags are up-to-date, and your contact information is correct. In the event of an earthquake, lost pets can be safely returned if they have their identification tags.
  • If you live in a two-story home or higher, create a safe space on the ground floor for your pet to retreat to during an earthquake. This should include food, water, and a comfortable area for them to take refuge.
  • Keep an emergency pet supply kit handy at all times. This should include extra food and water, leashes, blankets, first aid supplies, and medications.
  • Put your pet in a safe place near you during the earthquake—this could be a corner of the room or under a sturdy piece of furniture.
  • Secure any loose items in your home that might fall and injure your pet. This includes any heavy furniture, bookcases, wall decorations, etc.
  • After the earthquake has passed, take your pet for a walk to survey the area and make sure they don’t come into contact with any hazardous materials.

Taking these precautions can help ensure that your pet stays safe and sound during an earthquake, so you can both be prepared for the worst and hope for the best.

basset hound with harness on a bridge
Image Credit: Daniel Myjones, Shutterstock

Divider 4


Can dogs sense earthquakes before they happen?

The change in behavior before an earthquake is striking–many times, dogs and other animals are seen acting strangely before the quake occurs. However, it’s still unclear how they can sense these earthquakes.

There have been many theories suggested, including that they detect ground vibrations more easily than humans or that they can smell chemical changes in the air before a quake happens.

How do dogs behave before an earthquake?

Dog owners and pet sitters have reported that their dogs often exhibit strange behavior just minutes before the ground begins to shake. This includes barking, howling, whining, pacing, trembling, hiding, or trying to escape.

If you ever notice your dog acting strangely, it may be wise to take precautions and prepare for a possible quake.

Are there any other animals that can sense earthquakes?

It certainly seems so. Scientists believe that other animals, such as cats, horses, fish, elephants, and even bees, are also able to detect the signs of an impending earthquake.

While the exact mechanism remains unknown, it is clear that animals have a heightened sensitivity to their environment that humans do not possess.

Related Read:

Divider 2


While there is evidence to suggest that dogs and other animals can sense certain environmental changes before earthquakes, you shouldn’t rely on it as a reliable method for predicting seismic events.

The best action is to remain prepared for an earthquake by creating an emergency plan, securing your home, and staying informed about your area’s risk. Relying solely on a dog’s behavior to predict an earthquake may not be the most effective way to protect yourself and your loved ones.

Featured Image Credit: dahancoo, Pixabay

Related Articles

Further Reading

Vet Articles

Latest Vet Answers

The latest veterinarians' answers to questions from our database