Anxiety can be a very natural thing for your dog to experience on occasion, especially if they have recently gone through any major shifts or changes. Have you moved recently? Did you go away on a trip without them? Did you leave them with a new puppy sitter? Are they exploring a new dog park?
If your dog is experiencing constant anxiety without any apparent cause, however, then this not only can cause behavioral issues, but also health problems for your dog in the long run.
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Common Symptoms/Signs Of Anxiety In Dogs
Symptoms of anxiety can differ from dog to dog and can vary in severity depending on just how much anxiety a dog is experiencing. These are some of the most common signs of anxiety in dogs:
- Tucked tail
- Reduced activity
- Constant pacing
- Destructive tendencies
- Excessive licking/biting of self
- Jumpy/easily scared
- Overprotective actions (growling, defensive behavior)
- Passive/active escape behaviors
- Diarrhea/digestive upset/lack of bladder control
Most Common Causes Of Anxiety In Dogs
- Separation anxiety is one of the most common anxieties in dogs, experienced when a dog has trouble being separated from their parents
- A dog suffering from illness/injury can experience anxiety
- Changes in the nervous system as a dog ages can lead to anxiety
- Fear or past traumas can cause a dog to have constant anxiety, especially when confronted with triggers
- If a dog isn’t socialized while young, then they can develop anxiety
- If a dog experienced trauma while incaged and was unable to escape, they can develop anxieties when encaged, crated or contained in small spaces
What To Do If Your Dog Has Anxiety
If you feel your dog is experiencing unnatural or severe levels of anxiety and the cause for it doesn’t seem clear, it is highly suggested that you seek out help from a veterinary professional. They can help you determine whether or not the anxiety is stemming from a health condition, such as brain or thyroid disease, or some sort of intoxication, such as lead poisoning. If the anxiety isn’t due to a medical condition, the vet could also help you determine what your dog’s triggers or fears might be and can help you figure out the best course of action to take for your dog. Sometimes prescribed medication will be recommended or other methods to help your dog cope and calm down.
There are also other approaches you can take to help your dog calm down that don’t require a prescription, such as our Calm Me supplement. These are soft chews that are designed to help your dog relax, assist in stopping stress-related destructive behavior, alleviate motion sickness during travel, and reduce common symptoms of anxiety. Find out more here.
Beyond medications and supplements (and veterinary guidance/check-ins for more severe cases of anxiety), there are some things you can do for your dog to help him calm down and cope with his anxiety:
- Exercise – make sure you are staying on top of your dog’s exercise needs. Make sure he’s getting his walks and some good playtime every day.
- Nutrition – make sure your dog is on a proper diet and is getting the right amount of food every day. We suggest looking into a raw, meat-based diet for your dog. Find out more here.
- Practice tricks – in some cases of anxiety, distraction can help ease your dog’s symptoms. Get out your dog’s favorite treats and practice the tricks and obedience training you have been working on with him. It’s best not to use this time to teach him anything new though as learning new things can increase stress, especially if your dog is already experiencing anxiety.
- Calming music – especially for dogs that experience separation anxiety, playing calming music can help them stay calm and not feel so alone. You can also play music for them while you’re home if they need to relax.
- Massage – sometimes giving your dog a nice massage and some serious loving can help them calm down (this is assuming they don’t have physical touch triggers).
There are also measures you can take to help prevent your dog from developing fears/anxiety in the first place. Especially if you are a new dog parent, keep these in mind as you raise your new fur baby:
- Body language – learn how to read your dog’s body language. If you know how your dog reacts or behaves when he is experiencing nervousness and fear, it can help you keep him away from triggers or things that could otherwise eventually cause him to develop anxiety over time.
- Socializing – dogs that aren’t socialized from a young age have higher chances of developing anxiety when they’re older. Socialize your dog and help them get used to the company of other dogs and people.
- Obedience training – make sure you stay on top of your dog’s obedience training. This not only can help keep your dog manageable but also develop a foundation of trust and a good relationship between you and your fur baby.
- Exercise/nutrition – again, make sure your dog is getting the proper amounts of exercise daily and is eating a healthy diet. This helps prevent them from developing any illnesses and also any conditions that could lead to them experiencing anxiety.
- Situation avoidance – if your dog already exhibits anxiety behavior/symptoms and they’re triggered by certain situations, it’s best to avoid those triggering situations as much as possible.
You know your dog better than anyone. Keep a lookout for signs of anxiety or unnatural behavior and if you feel it’s necessary, take your dog in for professional veterinary help. Take the proper measures to help your dog calm down and cope with his anxiety and you’ll find that his condition can be absolutely manageable.
Do you have any additional questions for us? Let us know, we would love to help you and your fur baby out however we can.