Signs of anxiety in dogs can include obsessive paw licking, destructive chewing, and whimpering. In this post, our Goleta vets explain how you can recognize anxiety in dogs and how you can help your pup feel better.
Anxiety in Dogs
Are you thinking your dog might have anxiety? Our Goleta vets often see dogs suffering from anxiety for a wide variety of reasons.
Anxiety in dogs is no laughing matter. In many cases, the symptoms of these conditions lead to destructive behaviors that many pet parents are unable to cope with. If you think that your pup is feeling anxious, bring them to the vet so your veterinarian can identify the underlying cause of your pup's symptoms. Your vet will be able to diagnose the cause and offer solutions or treatments to help your dog feel more happy and relaxed.
The Types of Dog Anxiety
There are 3 main types of anxiety that our Goleta vets see in dogs:
Anxiety rooted in generalized fear can be triggered by almost anything such as loud noises, strangers, the introduction of new (unknown) animals, new visual stimuli such as hats, staying in a new unfamiliar environment, or certain situations such as a trip to the vet’s office, car journeys, or having to walk on slippery floors. Some dogs experience fear-related anxiety for just a short period of time and then adjust and relax. However, other dogs will keep feeling anxious anytime they encounter the triggering stimuli.
It is estimated that about 14 percent of dogs suffer from separation anxiety. These pups are unable to relax and settle down when they are by themselves or separated from their owners. Symptoms of separation anxiety typically include undesirable behaviors such as urinating and defecating in the house, destroying furnishings, clawing at doors, destroying shoes or other items belonging to their primary caregiver, and barking.
Cognitive dysfunction syndrome (CDS) in elderly dogs can cause age-related anxiety. If your pup is suffering from cognitive dysfunction syndrome, their basic brain functions such as memory, learning, perception, and awareness will sharply decline, (much like symptoms of early Alzheimer’s disease in humans). Understandably, this decline in brainpower often results in confusion and anxiety in senior dogs.
Symptoms of Anxiety in Dogs
Do your dog's nerves seem to be on edge? Here are a few other signs of anxiety to watch for:
- Pacing aimlessly & restlessness
- Obsessive paw licking
- Destructive behaviors such as chewing
- Panting for no reason
- Whimpering, trembling, or whining
- Spontaneous bowel movement or urination
While anxiety in dogs can be difficult for both the pet and their owners, there are other health concerns that could be causing your dog's symptoms. If your dog is exhibiting any of the behaviors or symptoms above, contact your vet to book an examination for your four-legged companion.
How To Help Your Dog's Anxiety
There are many ways you can help your dog manage their anxiety, and we have listed some of them below:
Bring Your Dog to The Vet
- Some symptoms of anxiety can actually have physical causes that need urgent attention. The first thing you should do if your dog seems anxious is to schedule a visit with your vet. While some dogs may recover from anxiety with just a little extra love and attention from their humans, your veterinarian can provide medications such as anti-anxiety aids to help calm their nerves if things don’t show signs of improvement.
Keep Your Dog's Mind & Body Active
- Boredom can often make dogs anxious. Make sure your pup gets enough exercise before you leave for the day, and supply your pup with enough toys to keep them busy in order to help quell your dog's anxiety. Look for toys that are interactive or can be stuffed with treats to keep your pup's body and mind active while you're out of the house.
Implement New Training Methods
- Counterconditioning is a training method you can try by replacing the anxious or aggressive behavior with a more desirable behavior, like sitting or focusing on the owner. Another training method is desensitization. For this, you can try slowly introducing your dog to the source of their anxiety in small doses at a decreased intensity. However, before attempting any of these training strategies, we recommend talking to your vet. Your veterinarian can let you know which method they think may be best for your dog and how you can implement it properly and effectively.
Show Your Dog Love & Be Patient With Them
- Of course, our pets need lots of love and patience in order to feel safe and contented - even more so when they are prone to feeling anxious. By giving your dog some extra time and attention you may be able to alleviate these issues and restore your pup's sense of fun and happiness.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.