How To Spot The Signs Of Stress
Subtle signs your dog might be stressed include:
- yawning unless your dog is tired
- panting often with a curled tip of their tongue instead of relaxed
- pacing back and forth
- dilated pupils or red around the eyes
- whites of their eyes showing
Obvious signs your dog might be stressed include:
- loss of appetite
- backing away from someone or a situation
- tail tucked between their legs
- diarrhoea or increased bowel movements
- trembling or shivering
Some of these signs may also be caused by a health problem and you should speak to a vet if you are concerned.
How To Tell If Your Dog Is Anxious Or Stressed
Is your dog feeling anxious? Stressed? Worried? You may think he cant tell you if he is, but he can and he will. Your dog communicates his emotional state through body language and behavior. Decoding his cues is mostly a matter of knowing what to look for.
It is important to notice the signs of stress in their early stages this gives you an opportunity to remove your dog from a situation before his reaction escalates and becomes potentially aggressive or dangerous. Other anxiety intervention tactics, like training, are also more successful if started as soon as possible, before your dog has a chance to become chronically stressed.
As you attempt to decode your dogs body language, take the situation he is in into account. In one context, a dog licking his lips may be expressing fear or anxiety in another context, the same dog may lick his lips in anticipation of a treat. And some dogs lick their lips when they feel nauseous. Consider your dogs overall behavior, not just one motion or gesture, when you assess his stress level. Be particularly aware of behavior that seems out of character for your dog.
If your dog exhibits signs that could be signaling stress or anxiety, start with a visit to the veterinarian. Your vet can investigate medical issues that may be contributing to changes in your dogs behavior.
You’ve Noticed Changes In Their Appetite
Sad and stressed dogs may also not want to eat or drink. “They may also stop eating their food, but will eat people food,” says Ochoa. So, look for any change from the normal diet and cravings. She adds, “Any change in appetite can be a sign of depression, but can also be a sign of something else.” So, see a vet too.
They could also be getting fatter, rather than skinnier. “This usually goes hand in hand with a lack of exercise and stimulation. Try and take your dog for a walk,” says Rossouw. And look at their calorie intake. Are you feeding them too much? They might be getting too much food compared to the exercise they’re doing, which would be unrelated to stress and sadness.
Read Also: How To Get Rid Of Stress Acne
A Stressed Dog May Have Dilated Pupils And Flat Ears
“When observing a dog for stress, it is important to watch the ears and eyes. If the eyes are dilated and the ears are flattened, the dog is giving the initial signs of minor stress,” said Farrell.
If you notice these signs in your own dog, try and remove any potential stressors such as other pets, small children, or loud noises.
Talk to your vet if your dog seems unduly agitated by regular household activities or other animals.
Common Real Life Situations That Can Stress A Dog Out
Below are some of the more common situations that may stress a dog out with resources to help you guide your dog through each of them.
- Loud noises: Dogs have super sensitive hearing, so a loud noise to you is only amplified to them. Learn how to help your dog around loud noises like fireworks.
- Moving: Whether it’s moving houses, rehoming a dog after the loss of a loved one, or just bringing home a dog for the first time after adoption, new places can leave any dog anxious. What you might see as a dog acting out , might just be a dog stressed about their new environment.
- Leaving Your Dog at Home: There are a variety of reasons why you have to leave your dog at home alone for extended periods of time: new job, going back to work after the birth of a child, day trip out to go shopping and so on, but for a dog that is used having company at home may act out from . Here are some helpful tips for leaving your dog home for the first time.
- Introducing Your Dog to New People: Despite the old phrase of “dogs are man’s best friend,” not every dog likes being introduced to every human. Whether because of mistreatment from past owners or being territorial, your dog may need time to warm up to new people. The best thing to do is to go slow and do not force it. Give your dog plenty of time and space to become comfortable with the new person.
Also Check: Does Stress Cause Ringing In The Ears
When To Look And Listen For Stress
The time of day when dogs get stressed totally depends on the dog and what hes anxious about. For instance, Dogs that are sensitive to commotion outdoors might struggle during the morning commute or when people walk outside, says Fratt. Or dogs that get stressed by being alone will probably be most stressed mid-day. If your pup frequently seems bothered in the evening, it could be a symptom of a hormonal imbalance, says McCue-McGrath. In that case, a supplement might help him relax and wind down at the end of the day consult your vet if you suspect that could be the problem.
How To Relieve Your Dogs Stress
After youve identified what might be causing your dogs stress, try using a few of these tips to help you manage their anxiety.
Above all else, you should first look to find the source of your dogs stress. This will help you identify techniques you can use to minimise their anxieties, allowing your pooch to lead a happier and more fulfilled life. Just as it should be!
What causes your dogs stress and how have you helped them cope with their triggers? Let me know in the comments below
If you liked this post, you may also like:
Read Also: Can My Hair Fall Out From Stress
Take Into Consideration Any Age Differences
Always remember that your older dog might not have the energy that your new puppy has, so take into account any age difference. This could mean that your older dog may want to sleep more, and will be less tolerant of a puppy who is raring to go and who always wants to play!
Try and spend more time with the puppy tiring them out – like playing fetch with a ball to get rid of excess energy! But remember to include your older pooch too and let them join in when they want to.
Causes Of Stress In Dogs
Your dog can feel stressed for a number of reasons. According to the American Kennel Club,the three most common causes of anxiety in dogs:
Additionally, recent studies indicate that your own emotional health and stress levels could impact your dog’s stress. According to research published in Scientific Reports, “dogs, to a great extent, mirror the stress level of their owners.”
Recommended Reading: How To Know If I Have Stress
How To Calm A Stressed Dog Down
Dog owners should also reflect on their own behavior to see how they might be contributing to the stress. Some ways owners might make their dogs stressed include not giving clear commands, staring directly at them, or punishing them unnecessarily.
The best way to calm your dog down is to identify what is stressing them, then eliminate the trigger. Alternatively, work with a professional trainer or your veterinarian to reduce their response to the trigger.
Sometimes its as easy as blocking off an area where your dog can eat while no one bothers them. Or, teaching children how to respect your dog appropriately. If you know your dog gets stressed out about specific events, like a car ride or fireworks on the Fourth of July, there are some specific ways to ease that anxiety.
The bottom line? Start paying attention to your dogs body language and youll be able to read their stress signals and reduce their anxiety in no time.
Cuddle Them If They’re Crying
Older methods around treating anxiety in dogs advised not patting or comforting the animal to avoid “reinforcing” the behaviour.
If you can afford it, doggy day care is a good option for pets with separation anxiety, or taking your dog to a friend or family’s home when you need to leave.
“If we invite friends of mine out for dinner they get in a dog sitter,” she says, as an example.
Creating a safe space for your pet at home and regular exercise will also help keep them be calmer when you’re not around.
Read Also: How To Get Rid Of Stress And Anxiety
If Your Dog Is Barking Or Whining More Than Usual They Could Be Stressed
Travis Arndt, veterinarian and director of the Animal Medical Center of Mid-America, told Insider that a sudden increase in barking or whining can be a clue that your dog is feeling stressed.
“Vocalizing is a way that dogs communicate that they need something. When dogs whine or bark in excess, they may be experiencing stress,” said Arndt.
Though barking and whining may be annoying to human family members, Arndt said that it’s important to consult with a vet to rule out physical or emotional distress before attempting to train your dog to be quieter.
Encourage Your Dog To Be Independent
If your dog is especially anxious and struggles to be away from you even for short periods of time, you can work on teaching them to settle on their own. Teaching them this will help your dog become more independent in themselves and will help with further training in the future.
To do this, fill a food toy such as a Kong and place it by your feet while you are watching TV. Do this regularly over the space of a few weeks and gradually place it further away from you each time. This will teach your dog to settle down and engage in activities without you. When your dog is occupied with the food you should still go in and out of the room as normal.
If you are able, installing baby gates throughout the house will allow you to move from room to room without your dog always being able to follow. This will help in training your dog to remain calm when you are not nearby and can sometimes help by showing them that you are still in the house. You could also try scattering a few bits of your dogs daily allowance of dry food on the floor when you leave a room, which will provide them with a distraction.
Recommended Reading: Does Stress Cause Herpes Outbreaks
How To Help A Stressed Out Dog
If your dogs behavior changes suddenly in any way, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian. He or she can rule out any underlying medical issues as well as make recommendations to help lower your dog’s stress level. Here are some tips for helping to alleviate anxiety in your dog:
Play/exercise with your dog regularly Physical activities like a game of fetch or a walk around the block are a great stress reducer for dogs.
Create a safe zone Set apart an area in your home for your dog to escape high-stress events like thunderstorms and parties. Provide your dog with a favorite “security blanket” such as a toy and visit your dog often. If possible, stay with him until the high-stress event has passed. Your presence is a great reassurance to him or her.
Choose a high quality dog food Your dog’s diet is an integral part of his health and wellbeing. Providing your dog with a diet that is not properly balanced for his or her life stage and lifestyle may cause unforeseen repercussions that may lead to anxiety and stress.
Help us make PetMD better
Was this article helpful?
What did you find helpful?
- This article had helpful info and advice that I trust.
- Article was somewhat helpful, but could be improved.
What was not helpful?
- Article wasn’t very helpful and needs improvement.
Medical Problems To Rule Out First
Incontinence Caused by Medical ProblemsSome dogs house soiling is caused by incontinence, a medical condition in which a dog leaks or voids his bladder. Dogs with incontinence problems often seem unaware that theyve soiled. Sometimes they void urine while asleep. A number of medical issuesincluding a urinary tract infection, a weak sphincter caused by old age, hormone-related problems after spay surgery, bladder stones, diabetes, kidney disease, Cushings disease, neurological problems and abnormalities of the genitaliacan cause urinary incontinence in dogs. Before attempting behavior modification for separation anxiety, please see your dogs veterinarian to rule out medical issues.
MedicationsThere are a number of medications that can cause frequent urination and house soiling. If your dog takes any medications, please contact his veterinarian to find out whether or not they might contribute to his house-soiling problems.
Also Check: How To Stop Chest Pain From Stress
Changes In Attitude And Demeanor
If your once friendly dog is suddenly acting cold or hostile toward you, this may indicate they are stressed or in pain.
Refusing food or being picky is also an obvious sign of anxiety or some other issue, primarily if your pet is usually motivated by food.
Doing their business in the house, ignoring you when you call out to them, and refusing play/cuddle time is also cause for concern.
A Dog Who Is Trembling And Pacing Is Highly Distressed
Shaking and pacing back and forth are signs that a dog is feeling extremely uncomfortable and seeking a way out of their current situation.
“Trembling and pacing are indicators of stress. It’s a fight-or-flight behavior The dog is looking for an escape route,” said Farrell.
If your dog is trembling and pacing, it’s important to immediately act to either remove the source of their anxiety or allow them to move away from whatever is causing them discomfort.
Recommended Reading: What Essential Oils Help With Stress And Anxiety
What Can I Do If My Dog Is Anxious When Im Not At Home
Dogs are highly social animals who generally prefer to live in groups. Many dogs can become anxious when separated from their human family. Anxiety is characterised by signs of distress when affected animals are separated from an owner or family group to who the animal is attached. Behavioural responses can include toileting in the house, destructiveness, excessive barking, digging or pacing and attempting to escape, among other distress signs.
The goal of management and treatment is to teach the dog how to be calm and relaxed when the person to whom the dog is attached is absent. It involves changes in pet-owner interactions, changes in leaving and returning routines, decreasing the anxiety associated with owner departure, teaching the pet how to be left alone and other environmental changes and management.
Owners should consult with their veterinarian for advice. They can either help you directly or they may offer referral to a behavioural specialist who uses humane reward-based training.
Anxiety In Dogs Can Present In Many Forms Such As:
These different types of anxiety can be caused by multiple factors and can also occur in conjunction with one another.
How can you tell if your dog has anxiety? Body language is often the best indicator.
Symptoms may vary from dog to dog depending on the type and severity of their anxiety, but the easiest way to identify if your dog is suffering from anxiety is by paying attention to their body language.
This can include subtle signs, like overreactions or unusual reactions when there are changes in location, people, or social situations. It might show up as barking or being overreactive but can also be as simple as not being interested in food when theyre in a new environment.
Also Check: How Do I Get Rid Of Stress Hives
Signs Your Dog Is Stressed
Just like us, our furry family members can become stressed and anxious. Being aware of the signals dogs show when nervous, stressed or unhappy helps prevent unwanted behavior and helps your dog live a happy and healthy life.
Often the indicators of stress are easily identified, but occasionally the ways your pup communicates stress can be quite subtle and surprising. Here are a few of the various ways your dog may express stress or anxiety:
Aggression towards people and other animals is one of the most common signs of stress or sickness in dogs. If you notice your pup is becoming increasingly agitated, this could be a sign of an underlying issue. This symptom is usually accompanied by fearful body posture and tense facial expressions.
Sometimes it is normal for dogs to seek alone time and solitude. However, dogs are pack animals and if you find this becoming a common behavior, it could be a sign of Distress.
Loss of Appetite
Most furry family members love to eat, so it can be quite upsetting when we notice them not eating at all. We may even notice drastic weight loss which can be a big indicator of stress, anxiety or an underlying health issue.
Many pet parents are familiar with their pups sleeping schedule and can recognize if their pup is sleeping more than usual or seems overly lethargic. Lethargy is usual one of the first and most common symptoms of stress and anxiety in dogs.
Visit your veterinarian