Just like people, dogs can get stressed out. Dogs may become stressed for a number of different reasons and experience stress to varying degrees. Whatever the cause or intensity of your dog’s stress, you surely want to find a solution that helps your dog to be more relaxed and happier. Here’s what you need to know about stress in dogs and some things that you can do to help.
Anxiety in Dogs
All dogs experience some anxiety for a wide variety of reasons. Dogs may become anxious because they are afraid, when they are separated from their family when they experience new things, and as they get older. Some dogs experience much more anxiety than others, and some dog’s anxiety can develop into an anxiety disorder.
How to Tell if a Dog is Stressed
For many of us, recognizing a stressed-out dog is intuitive. A dog that is stressed may simply look stressed to the experienced pet owner. However, not every sign of stress is clear.
Here are a few indications of stress, any of which may indicate that your dog is uncomfortably anxious:
- Aggressive behavior. A dog that growls, lunges, or otherwise shows aggression towards a stimulus may be stressed out by that stimulus.
- Inappropriate potty behavior. Dogs that are scared may urinate or defecate, often while cowering. Dogs that are stressed out may also lose their potty training.
- Drooling and panting. Excessive drooling and/or panting are often mistaken for a dog that is hot or over-aroused, but they can also indicate high levels of stress.
- Destructiveness. Sometimes stressed dogs will try to self-soothe by chewing, ripping things apart, or generally being destructive. Other times a stressed dog will be destructive in attempts to escape an environment.
- Barking and whining. Constant barking or whining, whether aggressive or not, is often a sign that a dog is stressed out.
- Pacing and repetitive behavior. Dogs naturally spend a significant amount of their time resting, so a dog that paces or performs other repetitive behaviors is often showing that they are stressed.
Stressed Dog Treatment
Identifying Anxiety Types by Stressed Dog Symptoms
The first step to treating a stressed-out dog is identifying what level of anxiety they’re suffering from. A dog that experiences occasional anxiety due to rare triggering events requires a different treatment plan than one that experiences chronic anxiety for much of the time.
Some dogs that are otherwise very laid-back can be triggered by particular events. Thunderstorms are a very common cause of occasional anxiety. Having strangers come to the home can also stress dogs out. Dogs that have triggered anxiety will be relaxed and laid-back most of the time, and the cause of their anxiety can usually be clearly identified.
Dogs with chronic anxiety are anxious much of the time. They may display anxiety symptoms even when in a relaxed environment around the house. They are often very clingy with their owners and resistant to new experiences and change.
Anxiety from Old Age
Dogs can experience anxiety as they age which is often connected to cognitive dysfunction syndrome. It is very similar to the early stages of Alzheimer’s in humans. Older dogs may become confused and anxious throughout the day, and symptoms are often worse at night.
Stressed Dog Remedies
Once you know what kind of anxiety your dog is suffering from, it is much easier to find remedies for the problem. Often, a combination of the following remedies will be most effective:
In counter conditioning, you change your dog’s response to the event that is triggering their anxiety. A good way to do it is to give your dog very high-value rewards whenever a triggering event occurs. For instance, if your dog becomes anxious when a stranger comes to your home, give your dog treats and encourage the stranger to give your dog treats.
Desensitization works well for dogs that are triggered to be anxious by particular events. Slowly introduce your dog to whatever is causing them anxiety in small doses, gradually increasing the exposure as your dog gets used to the potentially anxiety-provoking stimulus.
CBD Oil for Dogs with Anxiety
CBD Oil can be a very effective way to reduce your dog’s anxiety. Some dogs react to CBD very quickly, which can make it effective for triggered anxiety. CBD is often very effective for chronic anxiety or anxiety caused by old age.
Giving your dog the correct dose of CBD every day can reduce their chronic anxiety symptoms and make them a calmer, happier, and more relaxed dog. CBD seems to be very well-tolerated in dogs and has few side effects when used in effective doses.
Medication for the Nervous Dog
Some medications can be effective for severely nervous dogs. SSRIs and antidepressants can sometimes work very well, although they often come with side effects. Benzodiazepines like Diazepam may be effective for severe triggered anxiety.
However, many of these medications can have severe side effects in high doses and may also cause problems even in prescribed doses. Therefore, they are usually the last resort.
How to Calm an Anxious Dog
Sometimes, you may be faced with an anxious dog that isn’t your own. If you volunteer with shelter animals, are trying to rescue a stray, or working with a friend’s dog that is very anxious, you may wonder what is the best way to calm a dog that is experiencing anxiety.
Here are a few tips to help you relieve any dog’s anxiety:
- Avoid direct eye contact. Staring into your own dog’s eyes is a sign of love and connection, but with a strange dog, direct eye contact can be considered threatening.
- Make yourself small. The taller you stand, the more threatening you will be to a dog. Getting down on the dog’s level or even lying down on the floor can help a dog feel more relaxed with you.
- Move away from the dog. Dogs are naturally inclined to follow when you move away from them. Furthermore, moving away is the opposite of an aggressive move towards them, which will likely cause them to relax.
- Yawn. Dogs yawn to tell one another that they have no aggressive intentions, and it can do the same for you.
- Offer play signals. A dog that wants to play is not a dog that is about to become aggressive. Performing play signals like bowing down and then jumping away is a good way to show a dog that you have no ill intent.
- Be slow and soothing. Speaking in a soft, soothing voice, stroking the dog with slow, gentle movements, and otherwise making sure your movements are slow and relaxed can do a lot to reduce a dog’s stress.
Can Dogs Have Panic Attacks?
Sometimes, a dog’s anxiety can cross the line into all-out panic. Dogs can experience panic attacks that are very similar to what people may experience.
A dog that is having a panic attack typically has a physiological reaction. Their heart rate may be elevated, and they may tremble, be nauseous, and seem to lose control of themselves in attempts to escape or hide.
A panic attack can be distinguished from a phobia because you won’t be able to easily identify exactly what triggers the panic attack in your dog. It may seem to come on randomly.
Soothe Your Stressed Dog
You love your dog, and surely don’t want to see them suffering from excessive stress. Furthermore, many of the symptoms of stress can be destructive, which makes finding a solution essential.
High-quality CBD oil or calming chews from the InnovetPet can be an excellent way to relieve your dog’s anxiety and help them to be happier and healthier pets. Combining this kind of treatment with desensitization and counterconditioning is often a very effective way to relieve your dog’s anxiety, whatever the cause.