Just like in humans, anxiety in dogs can occur for several different reasons. Dogs may become anxious and afraid of things in their surroundings, such as a new housemate, changes in the daily routine, arrival of a guest, or sounds of fireworks. Some dogs are just naturally more anxious than others.
What is anxiety in dogs?
Anxiety in dogs is a state of mind dominated by an anticipation of uncertainty or future threats. A dog may feel anxious when there is a sudden disturbance to his daily routine or left alone for a long time. Separation anxiety or social anxiety is also very common in dogs when the owner is away for a long time.
Dog anxiety is psychological in nature with or without physical signs of fear.
What are the symptoms of anxiety in dogs?
When a dog is anxious or afraid, there is a buildup of tension in his body. This typically causes an associated physiological reaction. Signs of reactions associated with fear may include:
- Destructive behavior
- Excessive licking
- Biting parts of the body
- Excessive barking, howling, or whining
- Frequent urination and/or defecation
Some dogs are very sensitive to their physical and emotional setting. They typically exhibit repetitive or disarticulation behavior when they are stressed. An anxious and agitated dog, who finds barking not sufficient to relieve his tension, may move on to even more atypical behavior, such as chewing on furniture, eating their own feces, or showing aggressive behavior absent earlier.
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 may increase his stress levels and could lead to more unwanted behavior.
What are different types of dog anxiety?
There are also different types of anxiety in dogs. Some of these may include the following.
How to ease anxiety in dogs?
There are different ways to address anxiety in dogs. Soothing your dog’s worries is the first step to help him beat the stress and reduce anxiety. Here are some important ways to treat dog anxiety.
· 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 eventually calms down him. Aside from healing the body and improving blood circulation, massage also heals the mind.
If you do not feel comfortable doing it yourself, hire a certified canine massage. He can also teach you different ways to relax your pet through gentle touch.
· Use veterinary medication to treat your dog’s anxiety
Anxiety in dogs can be lessened with the help of medications. However, avoid over-the-counter medications and give your dog only drugs prescribed by a veterinarian. Though Benadryl or Diphenhydramine are often used, these can cause side effects. The easiest way to administer a pill 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 the treat.
· Natural alternatives to 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 or mixed with your dog’s water.
Passiflora is also a good alternative to ease canine anxiety. A calming anticonvulsant, it soothes the entire nervous system. It acts fast but is not addictive. Passiflora is available in tincture form and it should be added to water when given.
· Calming collars and thunder shirts could be the answer to your dog’s anxiety
If your dog suffers from anxiety, you can also buy a herbal calming collar for your dog. Calming collars release soothing essences, such as lavender and chamomile, which helps ease a dog’s anxiety. This product helps reduce separation anxiety, excessive barking, destructive behavior, and inappropriate marking. Calming collars remain effective 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 are hugging him – 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.
· Give your dog a healthy diet
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.
· 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.
Prepare an exercise routine for your dog and follow it diligently.
Exercising your dog and playing with him in typically stressful situations, such as thunderstorms, helps the pet overcome his anxiety. Your dog learns to use positive emotions to stay distracted from things that scare him.
· Create a predictable environment for your dog
No dog likes changes in their routines or environments and any change is likely to cause anxiety in dogs.
Dogs like routines and predictability. They can really get frustrated when changes occur in their surroundings causing irregularity. You can reduce your dog’s stress by maintaining a predictable environment with regular activities.
If you have just moved into a new house, following the same routine you used to do prior to moving, will go a long way to soothe the anxiety in your dog. It is also a good idea to walk your dog around the neighborhood at a regular time to familiarize him with the environment.