Anxiety. Many of us know that term personally. If you personally don’t struggle with it, there is a high probability that someone you know does. For us, it manifests differently depending on the person. The same is true for our furry family members. Our dogs can struggle with anxiety of differing degrees as well. Thankfully just like humans there are several options to help an anxious dog feel better.
Table of Contents
- 1 Is Anxiety Harmful for my Dog?
- 2 Types of Anxiety in Dogs
- 3 Signs of an Anxious Dog
- 4 Ways to Prevent Anxiety
- 5 Ways to Help Your Anxious Dog Cope
- 6 Treatments for an Anxious Dog
Is Anxiety Harmful for my Dog?
Anxiety isn’t harmful in a life-or-death type of way for our dogs but, if not treated, it can become a lifelong problem for your dog.
Types of Anxiety in Dogs
There are several reasons that your dog may show signs of anxiety. Below, I will explain some of the most common types of anxiety your dog may have.
Fear anxiety can be brought on by things like loud noises, unknown people, unknown animals, new environments, or certain situations (like a visit to the vet). This type of fear typically resolves once the situation is over but, sometimes the anxiety lingers for a bit afterwards.
This type of anxiety can easily turn into fear aggression if not addressed. Dylan suffers from fear aggression, unfortunately, and I have sought professional help to try and help him with this.
Dogs that suffer from separation anxiety don’t like to be left alone. Even something like being in a different room than the rest of the family can cause anxiety (especially if they are forced to stay there). This type of anxiety is at its highest though when they are left home by themselves.
When I first adopted Rainey, she suffered from this and I would come home to find pee in the house. But thankfully, as she got more comfortable and trusting, this stopped on its own.
As dogs age they can face cognitive dysfunction disorder which is similar to Alzheimer’s disease. Due to the declining function of memory, perception, and awareness dogs are likely to feel anxious.
Signs of an Anxious Dog
Like I mentioned before, anxiety presents itself differently in every dog. There are some common symptoms you can look out for though:
- Barking—increased or excessive
- Compulsive behaviors
- Defecating in the house
- Destructive behaviors
- Drooling—increased or excessive
- Ears tucked back or pressed back against their head
- Repetitive behaviors
- Tail between the legs
Ways to Prevent Anxiety
Reexamine your routine with your dog. You don’t have to buy any fancy products to help your dog cope with their anxiety. Just taking a step back and looking at your daily routine and how your dog is incorporated.
Dogs have amazing internal clocks. Dogs do best in a structured environment. And if they learn the daily routine and daily expectations, this will help to alleviate some potential triggers.
Making sure your furry family member has a set time for daily activities is important. Things like when they will get fed, let outside, and play time are easy to fit into your daily routine and can help ease some of your dog’s anxiety.
Compression (whether it’s a compression shirt or an ace wrap) has been proven to help ease anxiety in dogs. Whichever way you choose to give your dog compression make sure that it is done correctly.
There are many tutorials out there on how to use an ace wrap to help your dog with anxiety but, I would highly recommend asking your veterinarian or a reliable resource for a demonstration.
Compression shirts are a bit easier but, it is also important to make sure that you are putting it on correctly as there are certain pressure points it is meant to touch.
I use a compression shirt on Dylan as part of my prepping for July 4th fireworks arsenal. If he is starting to feel stressed out, he lets me put this on him without an issue.
Much like us humans, exercise is a great way to cope with anxiety. Just like us, dogs also release serotonin during exercise. Serotonin is what helps the body cope with daily stressors and anxiety.
Making sure that your dog gets daily exercise can help combat some of your dog’s anxious feelings. Plus as a bonus, they get to let out any energy they may have stored up while they were stuck inside.
Ways to Help Your Anxious Dog Cope
If you know that a stressful situation is coming up for your dog, offer up some distractions for them. You can offer treats for tricks and commands, turn on some music (or play a loud movie), or if the situation is in the house you could take your dog for a walk.
Dogs also find massage calming. Dylan loves getting massages. And will often sit at my feet and whine until you start massaging him. Just like for humans, there are several types of massage.
If you want to give your dog a proper massage you have a couple options. You can hire a massage therapist for your dog. Or you can find a reliable source and try to learn yourself.
If you don’t want to do a proper massage, you can still comfort your dog with either gentle pets or apply gentle pressure while you pet them.
Either of these options will help to comfort your dog while they are dealing with anxiety.
This one may seem a bit strange but it really does help. Using a weight blanket with your dog works much like it does with us. The deep pressure that it provides allows serotonin to be released which helps to calm your dog.
If this is an option you would like to try, I suggest asking your veterinarian for their suggestion on what weight is best for your dog.
Treatments for an Anxious Dog
Talking to your dog’s veterinarian is important if you think your dog is suffering from anxiety. They will help you to determine whether the cause of the anxiety is situational or if it is something more persistent.
It is not as common, but sometimes anxiety can also be the symptom of a medical condition. So, getting a full examination is always advised as a first course of action.
After the cause has been determined they can help you lay out a successful plan to help your dog comfortably cope with their anxiety. There are many medications that can help with general anxiety as well as situational anxiety. Some of these can even be used in conjunction with natural treatment methods.
Natural anxiety relief works with pheromones, aromatherapy, CBD Oil, desensitization, and counterconditioning. The best approach really depends on the type of anxiety that your dog suffers from.
When it comes to counterconditioning and desensitization, it is best to consult a professional trainer. They can help you approach these methods in a safe manner so that your dog’s anxiety is not escalated during the process. Make sure to find a trainer that is experienced in helping dogs with anxiety issues.
What is CBD oil?
CBD oil is the non-THC compound in the hemp plant.
How to use CBD oil:
The first step is to consult with your dog’s veterinarian. Next, make sure that you find a high-quality product from a reputable retailer (make sure that they do 3rd-party purity testing). Between the retailer and veterinarian, they can help you determine the proper dosage for your anxious dog and their specific needs.
Dylan gets CBD oil daily to help with his knee and hip issues. When we are faced with stressful events (like thunderstorms), he gets an extra dose. This, along with a dose of Bach’s Rescue Remedy, seems to be the magic combo to help him during short-term events.
Every dog’s needs are different but every owner wants the same thing—a happy and healthy furry family member. Having an anxious dog isn’t easy for you, or your dog, but thankfully there are many ways to help your dog cope. With a little bit of trial and error (along with advice from your veterinarian or trainer), I am certain that you can find a way to ease or even treat your dog’s anxiety. Did I miss any of your go-to methods when it comes to helping your anxious dog? Share them below.