Dogs are beautiful creatures, the ultimate loyal friend who love us unconditionally, but sometimes, they can have anxiety, just like humans. Anxiety is a natural response to danger, but when it starts to negatively impact your dog’s quality of life, it’s important to understand what’s causing it so you can help your best friend feel better.
The key to understanding anxiety in dogs is to know how to spot the signs, the reasons why these precious pets become anxious and what we can do to help our furry friends feel better. In this article, we’ll explore common reasons dogs have anxiety, signs of anxiety in dogs, and effective ways to manage and treat canine anxiety.
The Different Types of Anxiety in Dogs
Just like in humans, dogs can suffer from different types of anxiety. The most common types of anxiety in dogs include:
- Separation anxiety
- Generalized anxiety
- Noise phobia
- Travel anxiety
- Aggression anxiety
- Social anxiety
Separation anxiety is the most common type of anxiety in dogs. It occurs when a dog becomes anxious when they are separated from their owner or the person or persons who they are used to being around all the time.
They may demonstrate signs of anxiety through destructive behavior, howling, whining, or trying to escape from their confinement, which can be worrying and distressing for both you and your dog.
Generalised anxiety is characterized by an almost constant state of fear or nervousness, even when there’s no apparent cause for alarm. A dog with this condition may always be on edge, exhibiting nervous behavior or restlessness like pacing, trembling, or excessive panting.
Noise phobia refers to the fear dogs can develop of loud noises, like fireworks or thunderstorms. The fear can manifest into a range of behaviors, including hiding or refusing to go outside during the worst possible time, barking or howling, and becoming destructive.
Travel anxiety is triggered by traveling whether it’s through cars or planes. This type of anxiety can manifest itself into vomiting, shaking, or yawning, which can be disconcerting for pet owners.
Dogs with aggressive anxiety may become agitated, aggressive, and almost uncontrollably nervous in stressful situations, such as meeting other dogs or humans.
Social anxiety in dogs occurs when dogs experience fear, nervousness, or anxiety when they are around other dogs or people they are not familiar with. This anxiety can present in a way similar to generalised anxiety, including cowering or excessive barking.
Signs Your Dog Might Have Anxiety
Dogs can exhibit different behaviors when they’re anxious. Some signs you might notice if your dog is experiencing anxiety include:
- Excessive barking or howling
- Isolation, hiding or nonstop pacing
- Panting, shaking or trembling
- Chewing, scratching or digging
- Vomiting or diarrhea
- Loss of appetite
- Avoidance behaviors, such as cowering or hiding their tail
Reasons Dogs Develop Anxiety
Dogs develop anxiety in response to all sorts of stimuli, some of which include:
- Changes in the family atmosphere
- Pain or physical condition
- Phobias related to loud sounds such as thunderstorms or fireworks
- Past trauma, which can range from abuse to being in a shelter
- Separation anxiety, caused by being away from their owners for prolonged periods
How to Help Your Dog with Anxiety
One of the best things you can do to help your pet overcome anxiety is to make them feel comfortable in their environment. Here are some effective tips:
- Identify the triggers that cause their anxiety and avoid them
- Give them enough exercise to lower stress levels
- Calming music
- Use aromatherapy- some scents can make your dog feel comfortable and safe
- Behavioral training with a professional dog trainer
Treatment Options for Canine Anxiety
In the case of severe anxiety, medication may be required. Your veterinarian may prescribe medication to help manage your dog’s anxiety symptoms. This medication can help calm them down and make them feel more secure. Talk to your veterinarian about the options available and the best treatment for your dog’s specific condition.
Dogs with anxiety can be challenging, but the good news is that there are many options to help your fur baby alleviate their anxiety symptoms. The key is to be familiar with the signs, determine what triggers anxiety, and take the appropriate steps to keep your pet feeling calm and comfortable.
- Q: Can a dog develop separation anxiety over time, even if they’ve never shown signs before?
- A: Yes, a stressful event or an environmental change can trigger separation anxiety even in a dog who used to cope well with being left alone.
- Q: Do all dogs experience anxiety?
- A: No, not all dogs experience anxiety, and some dogs are more predisposed to anxiety due to their breeding, genes, or previous life experiences.
- Q: Can natural remedies help ease anxiety symptoms in dogs?
- A: Yes, natural remedies such as essential oils, probiotics, and herbal supplements have been shown to help alleviate anxiety symptoms in dogs, but it’s always wise to consult with your veterinarian before using any natural remedies.