How Do You Know If Your Dog Has Anxiety
There are various signs that can indicate your dog is suffering from anxiety. Restlessness, excessive barking and panting, destructive behavior, aggression, and self-harm are some of the most common indicators. A dog whos experiencing anxiety will start to exhibit these behaviors repeatedly, so make sure to keep a close eye on your dog if you sense they are developing anxiety.
What Causes Stress In Dogs
Dogs can become stressed because they are bored, frustrated, scared or anxious.
You may also be feeling a bit stressed by the coronavirus restrictions in place. For many dogs, being around a stressed family member will be enough to affect them, as dogs can sense when things arent quite right.
Dogs can also be affected by a change in routine, such as less exercise. This can lead to excess energy with nowhere for it to go. Or your dog might become stressed when going out to public places following lockdown. Remember that your dog has become used to being at home too and that they may need extra support to help them get used to busy places again.
Create A Sanctuary Space
Some dogs get so anxious in certain situations that no amount of calming, praising, or rewarding will give them relief. When this is the case, they need a quiet space with no stimulation where they can turn off all the input and simply unwind, says Dr. Konecny.
This can help in many situations, such as if they are nervous:
When visitors come to your home
Drowning out ambient sounds with white noise may also help them relax in their sanctuary room.
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How To Help A Dog With Separation Anxiety
Its a heartbreaking scene after a short time away from your house, you return to a dog thats wet from drool, trembling and wide-eyed with fear. Theres a mess by the door, and the TV remote and couch cushions are chewed to bits.
Its clear that youre dealing with more than just canine mischief. This is a case of a dog with separation anxiety, which can cause stress for your pup and for you.
Heres how to help your dog with separation anxiety to ensure their safety and well-being.
What To Do If Your Dog Has Separation Anxiety
Treatment for Moderate to Severe Separation AnxietyModerate or severe cases of separation anxiety require a more complex desensitization and counterconditioning program. In these cases, its crucial to gradually accustom a dog to being alone by starting with many short separations that do not produce anxiety and then gradually increasing the duration of the separations over many weeks of daily sessions.
The following steps briefly describe a desensitization and counterconditioning program. Please keep in mind that this is a short, general explanation.
Step One: Predeparture CuesAs mentioned above, some dogs begin to feel anxious while their guardians get ready to leave. For example, a dog might start to pace, pant and whine when he notices his guardian applying makeup, putting on shoes and a coat, and then picking up a bag or car keys. Guardians of dogs who become upset during predeparture rituals are unable to leaveeven for just few secondswithout triggering their dogs extreme anxiety. Your dog may see telltale cues that youre leaving and get so anxious about being left alone that he cant control himself and forgets that youll come back.
Medications Might HelpAlways consult with your veterinarian or a veterinary behaviorist before giving your dog any type of medication for a behavior problem.
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What Causes Stress Colitis In Dogs
One of the effects of stress on your dog is colon inflammation. If dogs are put under constant stressful scenarios, their immune system can get severely impaired, making them more prone to getting infected with harmful bacteria. This can then lead to stress colitis.
Common triggers of pet stress include physical distress from major surgeries, injuries, intensive exercise, and other external factors. Emotional stress can also come from moving to new places, having another child or pet in the family, or exposing them to unfamiliar scenarios.
How Do You Treat Separation Anxiety In Dogs
Dog separation anxiety training is the best treatment for this behavioral problem. Managing the signs of separation anxiety in dogs requires a combination of behavior modification and medication.
The exact approach depends on the dog and whether it spends short or long periods of time alone. Here are some helpful approaches for pet parents:
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Recognizing Anxiety In Your Pet Dog
There are many tell tale signs that your dog may be anxious or stressed.
Here are some of the indicators you should make sure to watch for when trying to diagnose your dog’s strange behavior.
If the symptoms are severe and your dog seems disturbed, either physically or mentally, seek medical advice from your veterinarian as soon as possible.
What may seem like stress can be something much more dangerous for your pets.
Knowing when to seek professional help is vital to the long-term health of your furry friend.
During The School Holidays
Children dont always understand the signs telling them a dog might need space. Children and dogs often have strong bonds but its important that you supervise their time together. And its important that you help your child to understand that, just like us, dogs do not always feel like playing or being hugged.
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Canine Separation Anxiety: Strategies For Treatment And Management
Accepted for publication 28 August 2014
30 October 2014Volume 2014:5 Pages 143151
Dogs without separation-related behavior problems are passive and inactive in their owners absence,1,2 and the initially anxious behavior of puppies separated from their owners3 has been found to decrease quickly after adoption.4 Dogs with separation-related behavior problems, in contrast, engage in undesirable behaviors when left alone. The most common of these are destruction and excessive vocalization, including whining and barking.59 Less common problem behaviors include inappropriate elimination , self-injurious behavior , increased or repetitive motor activity , attempts to escape, trembling, salivation, and depression.10,11
The bond formed between dogs and their human owners is consistent with an attachment.12 The emotional attachment between adult dogs and their owners, even in the absence of separation-related behavior problems, has been found to be similar to that displayed by human adults and their children.13 This is not surprising given that dogs have been selected for their dependence on humans over 10,000 or more years of domestication.13
Importance of separation-related problems
Factors that predispose dogs to separation-related behavior problems
Treatments for canine separation anxiety
Table 1 Options for the treatment of canine separation-related behavior problems
Other factors that may help
Causes Of Fear And Anxiety In Dogs
The onset of fear or anxiety issues in dogs can be prompted by a variety of things, from puppy socialization issues and age-related health conditions like dementia to traumatic experiences or genetics.
There is no catchall for the roots of these issues, but here are some of the most common causes of anxiety or fear in dogs:
Being forced into an unfamiliar and frightening experience
Being deprived of social and environmental exposure until 14 weeks of age
Phobias and panic: history of not being able to escape or get away from the stimulus causing the phobia and panic, such as being locked in crate
Any illness or painful physical condition increases anxiety and contributes to the development of fears, phobias and anxieties.
Aging changes associated with nervous system changes, as well as infectious disease and toxic conditions may lead to behavioral problems, including fears, phobias and anxieties.
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How Can I Help My Dog Handle Stressful Situations
In order to differentiate stress signs from normal behavior, you must be familiar with your dogs regular demeanor. Then you can tell if he is licking his lips because he is anxious or because he wants a treat.
When relaxed, he will have semi-erect or forward-facing ears, a soft mouth, and round eyes. He will distribute his weight evenly on all four paws. Distinguishing normal behavior from stress signs will help you quickly and effectively diffuse an uncomfortable situation.
“If your dog is stressed, first remove him from the stressor.”
If your dog is stressed, first remove him from the stressor. Find a quiet place for him to regroup. Resist the urge to overly comfort him. If you want to pamper him with petting or treats, make him earn them first by performing an activity . Responding to routine commands distracts the dog and provides a sense of normalcy. It is amazing how comforting sit, down, and heel can be to a worried dog.
If your dog becomes consistently stressed, see your veterinarian. After ensuring that your dogs behavior does not have a medical basis, your veterinarian may refer you to a trainer or veterinary behaviorist to evaluate stress-related issues. They may also prescribe anxiety-reducing medications if appropriate.
|Contributors: Malcolm Weir, DVM, MSc, MPH Lynn Buzhardt, DVM|
Anxiety In Dogs: How To Calm Your Anxious Dog
By J. Swanson
If your dog is always barking, itching, chewing, and scratching, it doesnt necessarily mean obedience classes didnt take. Destructive behaviors are also a sign of anxiety in dogs, who often resort to compulsive behaviors when they get bored or stressed often to the detriment of the rest of your home. But even the most hopeless dogs can change when owners recognize whats causing their distress. Heres what you need to know about anxiety in dogs and how you can address the root cause of your anxious dogs distress.
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Physical Illness Or Painful Condition
When investigating the cause of a dogs anxiety, its crucial to rule out any illnesses or painful physical conditions off the bat. It is vital to monitor a dogs normal behavior and patterns in order to notice irregularities. If anxious outbursts are out of the blue and sudden, this could point to a disease- or ailment-related cause.
Consulting with a veterinarian to rule out any medical issues is always the right call if a dog begins exhibiting behavior problems suddenly and with no obvious direct cause. Nonetheless, if a pup is feeling down in the dumps, it is highly probable they will exhibit anxious tendencies.
Treatment Of Chronic Stress In Dogs
If your veterinary professional has determined that your family pet is suffering from stress-related issues, then an appropriate treatment plan will be developed and initiated. Additionally, if he finds that the chronic stress condition from which your canine is suffering has caused deeper internal systemic issues, the treatment plan will include various treatments for those conditions as well. Possible treatments for chronic stress:
- Could be as simple as incorporating a daily walk and exercise activity into the life of your canine family member
- The treatments could include dietary regimen changes
- You may need to make some changes in your pets living arrangements
- You may need to administer medications to reduce the anxiety of your pet
- Behavioral training may need to be incorporated into your daily routine
- It is possible that administration of supplements may be needed to improve the nutritional and metabolic imbalances in your canines system
Additionally, treatments for any systemic issues found will be based upon the systemic issue itself. It will be important to treat both the cause of the systemic problem as well as the systemic condition itself and, whether those treatments run concurrently, or if one needs to be treated before the other, will be determined by your veterinary professional.
Worried about the cost of Chronic Stress treatment?
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Best Practices For Stress Relief In Dogs
Beyond medication, there are some additional things you can try with your dog as part of a more holistic stress-relief program. Consider trying any of the following:
- Scheduling regular exercise and playtime with them. Note: Daily walks may not be enough.
- Avoiding situations and places that are known to trigger stress whenever possible. Taking your dog to a crowded place such as an outdoor festival or farmers market, while well-intentioned, may end up stressing them out.
- Providing a safe zone. This can be wherever they feel comfortable, from a bed to doghouse. Giving them a sweatshirt or blanket that smells like you can go a long way toward easing anxieties when you’re out of the house.
- Setting consistent rules and not changing them. Your dog must know what you expect from them. And don’t forget to reward positive behavior and ignore bad behavior. If you always run to your dog’s rescue when they seem stressed, they will pick up on this and use it to their advantage. Part of being a pet parent is learning when you need to consul them versus when it’s only reinforcing a bad behavior.
- Providing them with a complete and balanced food to promote their well-being body and mind.
How To Calm An Anxious Dog
Vets and dog trainers swear by the Thundershirt, which helps calm anxious dogs by swaddling them in a comfortable, gently pressured body wrap, or another anti-anxiety coat. Exercise also helps calm anxious dogs. Not only will an extra walk provide a stress-busting boost of endorphins, exercise calms anxious dogs by letting them burn off extra energy and stress. Treating your dog to a long walk before you leave for the day can help calm your dogs separation anxiety, as can extra cuddles, petting, and brushing, because anxious dogs are calmed by physical contact. Music therapy can also help treat dog anxiety, so much so that shelters even play music to calm anxious shelter pets. Dogs with anxiety also benefit from have a quiet place to decompress and relax.
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Can Separation Anxiety In Dogs Be Cured
Yes, can be managed. However, it is completely dependent on the dog, the owner, and the cause of the problem.
While training and consistent routines help some dogs recover, others might need a more drastic change in lifestyle staying with dog sitters or in doggy daycare centers. Dogs with severe separation anxiety may have to consume anti-anxiety medication until the effects of the other training methods kick in.
Anxious dogs express several symptoms such as excessive vocalizations , destructive chewing, drooling, self-licking and mutilation, and house soiling despite being potty trained. Anxious behaviors are closely related to destructive behaviors.
Therefore, if you are wondering how to treat separation anxiety in dogs, you need to start with a vet visit. The DVM will rule out medical causes and suggest further steps seeing a professional trainer or canine behaviorist.
Xanax is a strong drug, but what effect should be expected from its proper intake? When a patient takes Xanax, he/she may experience a feeling of lethargy, slight fatigue, but such manifestations do not entail serious consequences. Immediately inform your doctor about any changes in your condition!
To treat a dog with separation anxiety, they will suggest positive reinforcement and training sessions. Mental stimulation and reducing the time alone will help minimize the signs of anxiety and help with the treatment.
What Breeds Are Prone To Anxiety
Dog anxiety is not unique to any particular breed, but there may be some breeds that are more prone to it. Any dog can develop anxiety, says Dr. Burch, who adds that dogs who are highly active, and/or working dogs that do not have a job may be particularly prone to developing anxiety. Examples of breeds that could fit into these categories include:
- German shepherd
- Border collie
Dogs of any breed can experience anxiety. As Bernal points out, A study conducted in Finland analyzing 264 breeds found that pet parents thought more than 70% displayed some form of anxiety. With anxiety being such a common issue for dogs, a multifaceted approach to treat it may be best.
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Noise Anxiety In Dogs
Theres a reason July 5 is the busiest day for shelters, who spend Independence Day weekend processing lost pets and helping calm the anxious dogs in their care. These anxious dogs are triggered by fireworks and thunderstorms, but many everyday sounds including ambulance/police car sirens, airplanes, traffic, loud TVs, beeping alarms and timers, other barking dogs, and even large gatherings can cause dogs stress. Noise anxiety can start in puppyhood and increase as dogs age, but hopefully become a passing phase. Staying calm during these triggering situations will also help calm your anxious dog.
Natural Treatment For Anxiety
Anxious people often feel like their stomachs are full of butterflies, but they are rarely actually hungry. Instead, their stomachs are actually full of stress, causing digestive problems. When we are anxious, our bodies release a stress hormone called cortisol. This hormone makes us feel hungry, even if were not. Stress can also cause us to digest food more slowly, which can lead to abdominal cramping. Because of this, people often feel like they need to go to the bathroom, but theyre actually feeling tired.
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What Are Conventional Treatments For Dog Anxiety
If you ask your vet about treating dog anxiety, youll likely leave with a bottle of anti-anxiety medication for your dog. This includes meds like Valium, Xanax, ProZac, Paxil or Lorazepam. Youve may have even heard of these many are human meds.
Most dogs have to take these drugs for several weeks before theres a change. But that doesnt mean the treatment stops after that. Some dogs can eventually stop taking them, but others need life-long treatment.
And these drugs come with a long list of adverse side effects, including
- Increased or decreased appetite
- Skin conditions
Some of these drugs can cause withdrawal symptoms if theyre given long term and stopped too quickly. But there are many natural solutions.