Dog Anxiety: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Dog Anxiety: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment


Like humans, dogs experience a wide array of emotions every day. Unfortunately, anxiety is an unavoidable part of this. Dog anxiety can be a hard emotion for pet owners to witness and navigate; however, it is important to know that anxiety is generally a normal emotion and all dogs will experience it occasionally. 


In this article, Pedigree explores dog anxiety, helping pet owners to better understand and cope with this worrying emotion. 


What Causes Dog Anxiety?


Anxiety is a natural emotion for dogs to feel sometimes and can happen as a result of many different experiences. It is particularly common if your dog is afraid of something, unwell, or in pain. Fears are unique to your dog and you know best what may frighten them; it could be a trip to the vet, loud noises, or even a new place.  


There are some factors that increase the likelihood of your pet experiencing anxiety. These include:

 

  • Aging – older dogs are more likely to suffer from cognitive dysfunction, which can lead to confusion and anxiety.
  • Isolation in youth – dogs deprived of socialisation at a young age are at an increased risk of becoming habitually fearful and anxious.


What are the Symptoms of Dog Anxiety?


Every dog has their own unique personality and so anxiety will present itself differently in each of them. The most common signs to look out for are:

 

  • Aggression
  • Destructive behaviour
  • Incontinence
  • Drooling
  • Panting
  • Low mood
  • Restlessness

These behaviours can all be symptomatic of other issues, so it is important you get to know your dog well and learn to recognise their emotions. The only exception to this is aggression, which is almost always the result of fear and anxiety. Canine aggression, whether physical or vocal, can lead to highly undesirable situations for dog and owner. This means it is vital you know how to soothe your dog when they are anxious. 


How to Treat Dog Anxiety


If you feel your dog is suffering from excessive anxiety, the best course of action is to consult a vet. They will be able to help you identify the causes of your dog’s anxiety and give guidance on preventing this. They will also be able to help you determine if the anxiety is linked to any medical conditions that may be causing your pet distress.


For occasional bouts of dog anxiety, you should ensure your pet has ‘dens’ to go where they can feel safe. Putting blankets and some of their favourite toys in a slightly enclosed space or with their dog bed in a corner is a good way to do this. You should never force them into these spaces and they should never be used for punishment. Your dog should see this as a space they can retreat to and get away from the causes of their anxiety. 


It is also helpful to ensure your dog is well-exercised, as this is a good form of stress release and will reduce the energy they can expend on anxious behaviours. If anxiety is an issue for your dog, try extending their walks or the time you spend playing with them. 


Separation Anxiety in Dogs


Separation anxiety is a condition in which dogs are unable to feel comfort when away from their owner. It is not normal anxiety and should be treated differently. 


Dogs with separation anxiety will often urinate or defecate inside the house, damage furnishings and bark excessively while their owners are away from them. If you fear that your dog may be suffering with this condition, you should consult a vet for further advice. 

 

Dog anxiety can be a hard emotion to deal with, but remember it is normal and healthy for dogs to feel anxious at times. If you are worried about your dog’s anxiety levels, consult a vet for further advice. 

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