What is Anxiety in Dogs?
Photo: Carleena Carnes/Facebook
Just like in humans, anxiety in dogs can occur for several different reasons. Dogs may become anxious and afraid of things in their environment, such as a new housemate, routine or fireworks. Some dogs are just naturally more anxious than others.
Anxiety in dogs is their mind’s way of anticipating future dangers, be it from unknown or imagined origins, or real physical fear.
What are the symptoms of anxiety in dogs?
When dogs are anxious or afraid there is a buildup of tension in the dog’s body that typically causes an associated physiological reaction. Reactions associated with fear include:
- Urination and/or defecation,
- Destructive behavior,
- Excessive licking,
- Biting parts of the body,
- Excessive barking, howling, or whining.
Some dogs can be really sensitive about their physical and emotional setting. They typically exhibit repetitive or displacement behavior when they are stressed. An anxious and agitated dogs who finds that barking does not relieve his tension, may move on to even more atypical behavior such as chewing on furniture, eat their own feces, or be aggressive toward other dogs.
When a dog is anxious, they are simply reacting to the worry and fear in their mind. Always be mindful of this. If you misjudge the situation and punish your dog this will only increase their stress levels and could lead to more unwanted behavior.
Different types of dog anxiety
There are also different types of anxiety in dogs. Some of these are:
- Separation anxiety,
- Noise and storm anxiety,
- Confinement anxiety,
- Motion sickness and travel anxiety, and more.
How to ease Anxiety in Dogs
There are different ways to address anxiety in dogs. The fact that you’re reading this and have probably been searching for ways to help soothe your dog’s worries is the first step to achieving success.
1. A soothing massage is a great way to relieve anxiety in dogs
Dogs enjoy a good massage just as much as humans do, and the results are equally beneficial.
A massage is a great calming technique to ease anxiety in dogs It eases the tension in your dog’s nerves and muscles and should eventually calming your dog down.
Aside from healing the body and improving blood circulation, massage also heals the mind.
If you don’t feel comfortable doing it yourself, call a certified canine massage therapist in your area and treat dog to a soothing massage. They can also teach you different ways to relax your beloved dog through touch.
2. Use veterinary medication to help with your dog’s anxiety
Anxiety in dogs can be lessened with the help of medications. But you should always consult a veterinarian before giving your dog any medication.
Giving your dog Benadryl or Diphenhydramine is one popular option. It is a light, over-the-counter antihistamine with sedative properties.
The easiest way to administer a tablet is to put it into a small piece of meat or other food. If the capsule is in liquid gel form or a syrup, mix it into a treat.
3.Natural alternatives that relieve canine anxiety
There are a lot of homeopathic remedies on the market. You can try Pulsatilla nigicans. It is one of the most common homeopathic medicines given for anxiety in dogs. It can be given orally directly into the mouth or mixed with your dog’s water.
Passiflora is also a good alternative to ease canine anxiety. It is a calming anti-convulsant that quiets the entire nervous system. It acts fast, but is not addictive. Passiflora is in tincture form and should be added to daily water.
4. Calming collars and thunder shirts could be the answer to your dog’s anxiety
If your dog suffers from anxiety, you can also buy or make a herbal calming collar for your dog. Calming collars release soothing essences such as lavender and chamomile that helps ease a dog’s anxiety. This product helps reduce separation anxiety, excessive barking, destructive behavior and inappropriate marking. Calming collars also release pheromones and are effective for up to 30 days
You can also purchase a Thundershirt for your dog. This product’s patented design applies gentle, constant pressure on the dog’s body – as if you’re hugging him or her – and makes them feel more secure. Thundershirts can be useful for dogs with noise anxiety or phobia, separation anxiety, motion sickness and travel anxiety, and other anxiety-related behavior problems.
5. Give your dog a healthy diet
They say “You are what you eat” — and that applies to dogs as well. A healthy diet leads to healthy behavior!
For hyperactive dogs, a high protein, low carbohydrate diet is the best option.
It is in your and your dog’s best interest to monitor closely what your dog eats. Consult with your vet about the best dietary options for your dog needs.
6. Exercise helps to alleviate stress in dogs
Physical exercise is a great way to reduce your dog’s stress levels. A tired dog is a happy dog!
Make sure to schedule a routine for your dog to be active.
Exercising and playing games with your dog in typically stressful situations, such as thunderstorms, will help your dog overcome their anxiety. Your dog will learn to associate positive emotions with the thing that scares them.
7. Create a predictable environment for your dog
No dog likes changes in their routines or environments. This is doubly so for naturally anxious dogs!
Dogs like routines and predictability. They can really get frustrated when there are changes in their environment. You can reduce your dog’s stress a lot by maintaining a predictable environment with regular activities.
If you, for example, have just moved into a new house, following the same routine you used to do prior to moving, will go a long way to soothing the anxiety the move has caused your dog. It’s also a good idea to walk your dog around the neighborhood at a regular time to familiarize himself with the environment.