If you have a dog, then you know that dogs are just like people. They have a huge range of emotions and personality quirks, just like people do. It’s no surprise then that dogs, just like people, get anxiety. In fact, a Medical News Today report states that over 70% of dogs have anxiety. Causes of anxiety vary as do the proposed treatment methods for canine anxiety. When you know the signs as well as the causes of your dog’s anxiety, you can help cure your dog’s anxiety.
Signs of Dog Anxiety
If you are wondering if your dog even suffers from anxiety, then it may help to know what anxiety in dogs looks like. Signs of dog anxiety often include:
- Urinating or defecating in inappropriate areas
- Chewing or tearing up furniture or other destructive behavior
- Drooling and panting
- Pupil dilation
- Posture changes or ear position changes
- Attempted escaping
- Excessive barking
- Repetitive behavior (similar to obsessive compulsive repetition)
- Mood swings or depression
- Uncharacteristic aggression
- Spontaneous shedding
Dogs act out (show signs of anxiety) when their anxiety gets triggered. Anxious humans, when triggered, often have irrational verbal responses or physical reactions. Dogs are similar; their reactions may seem incongruous or disproportionate to the situation.
Thus, when you recognize these behaviors in your dog, you can discern the type of anxiety your dog has and figure out how to manage it. Further, by knowing what type of anxiety your dog has, you may be able to determine the cause and manage it before your dog’s anxiety (and subsequent undesirable behavior) gets triggered.
The first kind of dog anxiety that may surprise some dog owners is separation anxiety. Separation anxiety is caused by you leaving; highly social dogs that connect strongly with you get anxiety when you leave. Dog breeds most prone to separation anxiety are shepherds, retrievers, and collies, and the most common signs are urinating / defecating, and destroying things.
Unfortunately, most owners have to leave their dogs at some point. Given triggering this kind of anxiety is unavoidable, you’ll want to implement some, if not all, of these techniques for curing your dog’s separation anxiety:
It’s worth noting that separation anxiety is the least common form of anxiety in dogs and that younger dogs are more prone to it than their older counterparts. With lots of reassurance and consistency, your dog could eventually grow out of separation anxiety.
Another cause of anxiety falls under the category of “fear”. Fear triggers are any event, location, individual, scenario, etc. that startles and upsets your dog. Fear triggers commonly include:
Fear often presents in the form of barking, pacing, escaping, and / or hiding. Pupil dilation, body stiffening, ear gestures, and aggression are other indicators. There are several strategies for curing fear-based dog anxiety. These include:
The last major cause of dog anxiety is aging. As dogs get older and their cognitive function deteriorates, they startle more easily and are more readily confused, which causes a great deal of anxiety. This is easy to understand when you consider how disorienting the aging process is for humans…except dogs can’t even explain their confusion!
Dogs with age-related anxiety might pace, drool or pant, tremble, become aggressive, lick, exhibit mood swings, or urinate to indicate their confusion. Help cure your dog’s aging anxiety in the following ways:
- Lots of cuddling and physical contact
- Doggy massages
- Creating a warm environment (older dogs get colder easier due to decreasing body mass)
- Keep the environment familiar (the less change and disruption and the more familiarity your dog has, the better)
- Maintain a routine in terms of when feedings occur, when you come and go, when you go for walks, when and where you feed your dog, etc.
- Keep new visitors (human and animal) to a minimum if possible
When your dog is a senior, routine is the best cure for anxiety. You can still use pheromones and supplements if your dog seems extremely anxious.
Naturally, it’s always best to consult with your veterinarian before introducing any kind of anti-anxiety supplement into your dog’s therapy. The most proven solutions are quality time, consistency, physical contact, and lots of love, which no doubt, you give to your dog freely and readily, anxiety or not.
Dogs really are just like people. They have big feelings just like people do. They also need comprehensive health care, just like us! That includes oral health care, which is why we at WHIMZEES® created delicious, natural daily dental chews to help keep your dog’s teeth as happy and healthy as you keep your dog!