Dogs have an array of emotions, just like humans. They get happy, sad, bored, and sometimes even stressed. Dogs are often known for their friendly, affectionate, and loyal behavior, but sometimes even they can get anxious, and every pet parent should realize it. Being responsible pet owners, it’s our job to understand the triggers and signs of a stressed-out furry friend. Anxiety can cause pets to behave oddly and affect their general wellbeing severely. Without further ado, let’s discuss “Is Your Pup Stressed? How do I Know if My Dog has Anxiety.”
What is Anxiety in Dogs?
Anxiety is a natural state of the body that prepares it to react to stressors. For dogs, anxiety is a situation where their nervous system overloads and overreacts to new stimuli or unknown objects. An anxious dog may bark, hide, or become destructive to escape the uncomfortable situation. Fear and anxiety are common in dogs, and they can communicate strongly through their body language, verbal signals, and behavior.
Causes of Anxiety in Dogs
Anxiety can have several related causes in dogs. The most common causes include:
- Lack of socialization in puppies
- Fear of noxious sounds like fireworks, thundering, car honking, etc.
- Separation from loved ones (owner, other pets)
- Sudden changes in the environment (moving to new places)
- Traumatic events (accidents, being exposed to abuse)
- Medical conditions that cause pain or discomfort in dogs
- Phobias of certain stimuli or places
Symptoms of Anxiety in Dogs
An anxious dog might exhibit some general symptoms that include:
- Pacing back and forth
- Excessive licking or grooming
- Excessive barking or whining
- Vomiting or diarrhea
- Panting and shaking excessively
- Chewing or destroying items that it doesn’t ordinarily
- Hiding in corners or under objects
Is it Separation Anxiety?
Dogs are social animals, and they tend to form strong bonds with their owners. Separation anxiety is a common form of anxiety in dogs, affecting up to 20-25% of puppies and dogs. Separation anxiety can be severe and last throughout the dog’s life without treatment. If your dog starts exhibiting separation anxiety, it could be their way of letting you know how much they love and trust you. Below are some of the symptoms of separation anxiety:
Common Symptoms of Separation Anxiety
- Dogs exhibit excessive barking and whining when you leave
- Dogs chew or scratch the furniture in the house
- Dogs urinate or defecate indoors, even though they are well trained outside
- Dogs become overexcited and jump around when you return home
- Dogs show distress when they know you are about to leave
If you observe these symptoms, then your dog may be experiencing separation anxiety, and you should consult your veterinarian.
Treatment for Dogs with Anxiety
Dogs with anxiety can get help with medication. Anti-anxiety medications can reduce the symptoms and increase the dog’s quality of life. However, it’s essential to follow the vet’s instructions, and the dosage should be administered consistently. Anti-anxiety drugs can have side effects, and they might not work for all dogs with anxiety.
Crate training is another effective way to treat anxiety in dogs. Crates provide a safe haven for dogs, and it’s a place where they can retreat when they feel anxious or stressed. Crate training should be done positively, using treats and rewards to encourage the dog to enter the crate voluntarily. Never use a crate to punish the dog; this can increase anxiety and cause other problems.
Behavior Modification Techniques
Behavior modification techniques can also be used to treat anxiety in dogs. Techniques involve desensitization and counter-conditioning, where the dog gets used to the thing that makes them anxious. For example, if your dog gets anxious around strangers, you could expose your dog to strangers one at a time, and with time, they get used to them.
Dog Anxiety FAQs
Below are some of the most common questions and their answers related to dog anxiety:
Q: Can Separation Anxiety Go Away on Its Own?
A: It’s not uncommon for separation anxiety to go away on its own, especially if it’s mild. However, if it’s severe, it may not go away without treatment.
Q: Can My Dog Outgrow Anxiety?
A: Some dogs can outgrow anxiety, while others may not. Anxiety symptoms can be managed with proper treatment and training.
Q: How Can I Calm Down My Anxious Dog?
A: To calm down an anxious dog, give them a quiet and calm environment, play soothing music or sing to them, give them something to chew on, or distract them with a game or treat.
Q: Can I Give My Dog CBD for Anxiety?
A: Yes, CBD oil can be used to treat anxiety in dogs. However, CBD oils should be obtained from a reputable source and always should be administered only after consulting with a veterinarian.
Q: How Long Does Dog Anxiety Treatment Take?
A: The duration of anxiety treatment depends on various factors, such as the severity of anxiety, the dog’s response to treatment, and whether medication is required. The duration can range from a few weeks to several months or even longer.
In conclusion, realizing that your furry friend is stressed out is always heartbreaking, and as pet owners, we have to be able to identify the signs and symptoms of anxiety in dogs. Early intervention with proper treatment can help avoid further deterioration of the condition. With proper care and a stress-free environment, you can help your dog lead a fulfilled and anxiety-free life. Speak to your veterinarian if you’re concerned about your dog’s behavior or feel that they’re anxious.