Do dogs experience anxiety and how can it be cured?

As festive seasons are right around the corner, you may notice your dogs appear a little stressed or worried. This behavior is a sign that they are perhaps intensely triggered. One may try to relieve this anxiety by petting them, holding them, or wrapping them in anti-anxiety clothing, but often these acts may not be enough. What makes a festive occasion can often be triggering, scary, and anxiety-inducing for our furry friends. How do you learn if your dog is suffering from anxiety?

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Most dogs experience anxiety

In a study conducted in 2020, Milla Salonen and colleagues analyzed various behaviors exhibited by 13,715 pet dogs from 264 varying breeds. From the questionnaires filled by the dog owners, it came to light that many depict a range of anxiety-related behaviors. These include general fear, noise sensitivity, fear of surfaces, impulsivity or compulsive behaviors, aggression, lack of attention, and separation anxiety. The data revealed that up to 72.5% of the dogs expressed behaviors related to anxiety-related traits.

Of all the varying behaviors, 32% of the dogs were suffering from noise sensitivity. This behavior means that they get frightened or terrified at the noise. A common source of such anxiety-inducing noise is fireworks. They may trigger Panic Disorder (PD) and canine-post traumatic stress disorder (C-PTSD) for many dogs. As a result, they are terrified and might depict a range of behaviors. They include salivation, urination, defecation, vocalization, freezing, escape behaviors, shaking, increased, decreased, or unfocused motor activity, and causing random destruction. In this situation, the immune response is more intense than fear. It can cause a range of consequences like defecation, salivation, urination, vocalization, increased, decreased or unfocused motor activity, freezing, shaking, escape behaviors, and random destruction.

Although the other causes are less popular amongst dogs, a sizable number ( 29%) experience general fearfulness. Up to 17% are scared of other dogs, in particular, 15% are fearful of strangers, and 11% are scared of strangers’ new situations. Up to 14% of the dogs experienced aggression and separation-related behaviors and anxieties worried up to 5%.

Researchers suggest that many of these behaviors may manifest themselves or become palpable or pronounced with age. However, a significant part of the group revealed that younger dogs display impulsivity and signs of anxiety as well. This study shows how various dogs respond differently to it.

How to treat your dogs’ anxiety

The first step in efficiently treating your dogs’ anxiety is to speak to your veterinarian. They can help you primarily identify the type of anxiety your dog is suffering from, tracing underlying possible causes and triggers. This process also reveals the impact of past experiences that may have had a fundamental mental effect on your dog. Moreover, a vet can help you understand if this anxiety is only situational or an overwhelming cause that you must address. These help rule out other medical conditions, after which they recommend appropriate treatment and medication, if necessary.

Training, Counterconditioning, and Medications

Veterinarians usually help you decide the appropriate treatment plan for the dogs. These solutions may be a combination of training, counterconditioning to medication. Counterconditioning entails changing your dog’s response to stressful stimuli by aiding them to learn alternative ways of responding to it. For example, instead of getting aggressive, they can learn to sit or focus on the owner.

Another training method includes desensitization. Through this method, the owner gradually introduces the dog to the causal stressor of their anxiety in small doses of decreased intensity. While they are rewarded in the process of tolerating and favorably responding to the stressor, they learn to detach themselves from the stressor and manage their behavior in response to it.

When it comes to medication, vets usually recommend natural therapies or medications. Common antidepressants include SSRIs, fluoxetine, and clomipramine. In case of a pattern of predictable anxiety-provoking events, vets provide benzodiazepine along with other antidepressants. According to the Merck Veterinary Manual, natural products and therapies can help organically reduce anxiety. Using it in combination with treatment strategies, dogs are often better equipped to regulate and manage their anxiety, if not actively reduce it. In this regard, natural products such as aromatherapy, pheromones, and CBD are also immensely beneficial.

Many dog owners opt for CBD or Cannabidiol for their dogs. Here is why CBD could help reduce anxiety in your dog! It is an all-natural, safe, and comforting solution to varying canine health issues, including anxiety-related behaviors and stressors. Apart from alleviating anxiety, CBD aids in reducing pain, arthritis and even helps stop seizures.

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CBD products and their uses

Cannabidiol or CBD is one among the numerous cannabinoids sourced from cannabis plants like hemp and marijuana. They come in varying forms and types, such as edibles, tinctures, candies, and oils. Not only is it immensely relaxing and anxiety-alleviating for humans, but it also works similarly with our dogs. Interacting with the endocannabinoid system present in mammals, CBD relieves their receptors, creating room for easing communication in mind. Easing the process of mental communication also relieves dogs of acting out hastily or in a rash manner and gives them a sense of control over the situation around them. It then eases the triggers gradually.

Once the CBD interacts with these receptors, dogs are generally far more immune to anxiety-inducing stressors, battle noise, or fireworks with much ease and are not terrified by them. CBD increases their capability to handle the situation effectively. Streamlining this communication process via the dogs’ CBD receptors restores body balance, relieving stress and anxiety.

Can I give my dog CBD?

Since CBD is free of THC, it is healthy for dogs. Therefore, CBD is a much more efficient, safe, and all-natural option for dog owners. As THC can indeed be harmful to dogs, in your search for CBD products for your dog, ensure you opt for CBD isolates. Even the World Health Organisation reported in 2017 that CBD is well-tolerated by animals, deeming it safe for them to consume.

Kratom and Alternative Options

Kratom’s long and expansive history of reducing anxiety and stress aids significantly for restless dogs in dealing with stressful situations. Kratom not only reduces anxiety but also relieves pain, enabling relaxation. The most popular kratom strains for anxiety in dogs include Maeng Da for its calming and uplifting properties and Green Malay Kratom for its sleep-inducing capacities. Bali, Sunda, and Indo strains are also commonly recognized for the same.

Conclusion

Dogs experience anxiety due to a range of factors. Many of these have to do with their past experiences and histories that are difficult to get past, even if they are with a caring new family. With CBD and other natural therapies and treatments, they may be able to tackle anxiety-inducing stressors efficiently.

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