Everything You Need to Know About Dog Anxiety
We all know dogs that have major episodes of anxiety circumstantially, like during thunderstorms or fireworks. But what about dogs that just always seem somewhat on edge? Learn about anxiety in dogs, including, signs and symptoms, treatment, and prevention.
Types of Dog Anxiety
Dogs can’t always communicate with us exactly how they’re feeling so it’s up to us as pet owners to try to understand what’s bothering them, which can be challenging. In general, there are 3 types of dog anxiety.
1. Separation anxiety
Separation anxiety is the most common form of anxiety in dogs and is the result of your dog feeling separated from you for too long. While it’s sweet to think that our dogs miss us this much, the reality is that this form of anxiety is very uncomfortable for them. Most dogs need to learn to be comfortable alone for periods of time, as most humans can’t be with their dogs all the time, (even if we’d like to be).
2. Environmental changes
This type of anxiety occurs when there’s a change to a dog’s home or routine. A move to a new house or the loss of a caretaker can result in this type of anxiousness. Other environmental things can cause anxiety, as well, like a long car ride or a trip to the vet, both of which would be considered environmental.
3. Anxiety due to loud noises
As we mentioned, anxiety is common for dogs during loud thunderstorms and fireworks.
Symptoms of Dog Anxiety
The most common signs that your dog is anxious are:
- barking or howling
- excessive drooling or panting
- destructive behavior
- restlessness and pacing
- running away, escaping
- urinating in the house
- loss of appetite
- compulsive behaviors
- self-harm like licking or chewing
Treatment for an Anxious Dog
If you suspect your dog is feeling anxious or stressed out, consult your veterinarian first. It’s important that you see your vet if you’re worried about anxiety because they will be able to rule out any other medical issues that could present themselves in the same way.
If your pet is showing any signs of behavioral issues, a dog insurance plan, like Spot Pet Insurance may help to cover the costs of these types of vet appointments.
Your vet will help you identify your dog’s triggers and diagnose what type of anxiety your dog suffers from. After determining these things, your vet will help you come up with a treatment plan for your pooch.
Treatment options for anxiety may include behavioral training and counterconditioning which will work to change your dog’s response to stress-inducing stimuli. These methods may work best if you utilize a professional dog trainer for help, as they can be challenging to do on your own.
If your dog suffers from a more severe case of anxiety, your vet may prescribe an anxiety medication. Similar to medications used for human anxiety disorders, the most common pet meds for these conditions are SSRIs and antidepressants.
If your pup has anxiety caused by loud noises like thunderstorms or environmental situations like long car rides, your vet may prescribe something for you to administer to your dog prior to the circumstance like a benzodiazepine which will help to relax your dog.
Chances are your dog will experience anxiety at some point in their lives. Not all dogs will require a diagnosis, medication, or treatment, but knowing the causes and symptoms will help you to be ready to properly care for your pup should they become stressed.
There are ways to prevent some of the anxiety that your dog may face:
- Obedience: obedience training is a very helpful tool in preventing doggy anxiety.
- Exercise: regular exercise will help your dog’s overall health and mental well-being.
- Nutrition: a healthy diet is equally essential to your dogs health and well-being.
- Stimulation: Keep your dog active and playing, as it will help them cope with their anxiety.
- Avoidance: Avoid situations and circumstances that may trigger your dog’s anxiety when possible.
Your dog’s emotional health is critical to their happiness. It’s important to be well-informed about the risk of dog anxiety and to look for cues from your dog that may indicate there’s an issue. Always consult your vet before coming to any conclusions about your dog’s health.
Remember, a healthy dog is a happy dog! Having pet insurance can help ensure that you’re able to give your dog the care they deserve should they have health issues.