Ways to Help Diagnose and Combat Anxiety in your Dog
When it comes to your dog, it's pretty easy to notice when their behaviour starts to shift. What may appear as behavioural issues in your pup could be anxious responses to triggers in their environment or daily lives.
But, furr-tunately for you, as their lovable friend you can really help them through tough times. Like us, dogs can battle anxiety that hinders their ability to be the wonderful, loving pup you know they can be.
So when you start to notice some of the anxious behaviours we are going to talk about, you can take steps to help your furry best friend through their anxiety.
What we mean by 'dog anxiety'
When pet owners refer to dog anxiety, a few different behaviours are tied into this term. Stress, Fear, and Anxiety are similar behavioural problems that dogs can experience. However, they each have varying definitions.
Chronic stress in your pooch can lead to mental and physical health issues. Dogs attempting to cope with stress can experience an imbalance of different hormones like dopamine and serotonin, like people. Left unmanaged, their stress can lead to respiratory problems, gastrointestinal issues, obsessive/compulsive behaviours, and an overactive fear response.
This behaviour is usually displayed in response to a specific environmental factor. This can come from a person, object/toy, or the space/room/social situation they are in. By paying close attention to the environment, you may be able to pinpoint potential triggers to avoid or better help your dog through them.
Anxiety is classified in dogs as the fear of impending danger. This will cause your dog to live in a state of hyper-awareness of its surroundings. If your dog is experiencing anxiety, they will be very vigilant with hyper motor activity.
Causes and Symptoms
So how do you spot where the new behaviour is coming from? It’s definitely not im-paw-sible with the right information! Some breeds are more prone to anxiety, so check with your veterinary purr-fessional so you are aware of your pup's potential tendencies.
Some common causes to look for that can help diagnose whether or not your dog suffers from anxiety are as follows:
- Fear of Separation (one of the leading factors known to cause anxiety in dogs)
- Old Age/Health Problems
- Past Abuse or Trauma (especially in rescues)
- Lack of stimulation or socialization (dogs are smart animals with natural pack instincts)
Since we've gone over some of the potential causes for your pup's anxiety, here are symptoms to look out for as well:
- Environmentally destructive behaviour
- Self-destructive biting, chewing or licking
- Excess Drooling/Panting
- Restlessness and constant pacing/scanning the room
- Excessive Barking
- Other strange repetitive or compulsive behaviours
How to manage and treat anxiety in dogs
Once you can pinpoint the root of some of your dog's anxieties, you'll better understand how to help manage them. You can do plenty of things to help your pup through their stress and anxiety to provide the best life possible for them.
Since the environment impacts so much how your dog behaves, it's also one of the easiest ways to find a solution suitable for your pup. Consider a special place in the house just for your dog. Sometimes a super paw-some comfy bed like the Deep Sleep Calming Bed in a separate room lets your dog know they have a safe space to retreat to when they feel overwhelmed or overstimulated. This also allows you a space to take them aside and separate them from any sudden anxiety-inducing environmental factors.
For more overactive dogs, provide them with toys that keep them stimulated and occupied. Toys like the PlayPaw FloppyFish give your dog something safe to fixate on, rather than chewing on your favourite sandals or slippers. Dogs also have natural pack instincts, and allowing them to engage with other pups like them can work wonders on different behavioural issues caused by anxiety.
Treating your dogs' anxiety can become tedious when you don't know what approach to take to help manage their behaviour. But with the proper attention, love, and care, you can help manage and prevent your dogs' anxiety in the future. You’ll be giving them a round of a-paws in no time for their improved behaviour!