ANXIETY IN DOGS: What Owners Need to Know
Dogs can experience anxiety in the same way as human beings. So anxiety isn’t exclusive to humans, it’s an emotion that translates across species. Since dogs can experience anxiety from time to time, it’s important you know how to detect the symptoms. With awareness of how your dog is feeling, you can attempt to alleviate the anxiety with different measures.
If your dog experiences anxiety in spurts and is left unattended, it’s not uncommon for an anxiety disorder to develop. This should be prevented at all costs, or you will end up as a negligent owner with a miserable dog.
But how exactly do you know if your dog has anxiety and how should you treat it? Here is some expert knowledge which will help you deal with a dog who has anxiety:
Causes of Dog Anxiety
There are various causes of anxiety in dogs, most of which aren’t dissimilar from human causes. The three main protagonists are:
Some dogs fail to find comfort when separated from their owners. This can manifest itself in undesirable ways. For example, a dog experiencing separation anxiety might destroy your furniture or bark loudly.
Fear anxiety can be sparked by visual stimuli, strange people, loud noises, or new and strange environments. Some dogs may experience temporary symptoms, whereas anxious dogs can feel lasting effects.
As various mental functions decline, confusion and anxiety are often experienced by senior dogs. This is sometimes associated with Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome (CDS), alongside perception, memory, and awareness reaching a decline.
What Are The Symptoms of Dog Anxiety?
Look out for some of these symptoms of dog anxiety, especially when experienced consistently:
- – Drooling
- – Panting
- – Urinating
- – Aggression
- – Depression
- – Destructive Behavior
- – Pacing
- – Restlessness
It’s not uncommon for dogs to experience these emotions every now and again. But when they’re experienced repeatedly there is more cause for concern. One of the most dangerous symptoms of dog anxiety is aggression, which can rear its ugly head at the wrong times.
Managing a dog’s aggression may not resolve the issue. In fact, it can bottle up the aggression until it’s later released in a ball of fury. Destructive behavior is common with separation anxiety, where dogs are at risk of harming both inanimate objects and themselves too. Painful injuries can result in expensive veterinary treatments while jeopardizing the safety of your beloved pet.
How Do You Treat Dog Anxiety?
It’s important to consult with your veterinarian for advice on how to treat your dog for anxiety. However, the likelihood is you know your dog better than anyone else, meaning you should know how to appeal to their true nature. It’s best to utilize the best-of-both-worlds approach, where you work with your vet to determine whether anxiety is situational or becoming chronic. The great thing about working with a vet is they can identify any medical conditions which could be causing anxiety.
Collaborating to devise a treatment plan is a great way to tackle anxiety, using a combination of preventive strategies, training, and anxiety medication for dogs.
Training and Counterconditioning
Counterconditioning can be used to change your dog’s responses to given stimuli, specifically stimuli which would usually cause anxiety. This can be effective for helping to replace a dog’s anxious behavior with more desirable ones.
Desensitization can be effective too, where stimuli are gradually introduced at decreased intensities to help dogs to better understand their surroundings. They’ll slowly learn their usual triggers aren’t actually that bad, especially when you reward positive behavior as part of an anxiety management approach.
Anxiety Medications for Dogs
Though natural therapies are advisable, anxiety medication for dogs can be useful as a short term method for alleviating anxiety. Anti-depressants are often prescribed to manage systems, including drugs like clomipramine and fluoxetine.
Benzodiazepines can even be used to help your dog cope with stress. When combined with other natural therapies, medication can be a useful measure to create calm in otherwise manic situations.