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Anxiety In Dogs 
May 1, 2024

Did you know that dogs can suffer from anxiety, just as people can? Our canine friends are very emotional, just as people are. Fido can suffer from fear, depression, loneliness, and grief. This can take quite a toll on him, both emotionally and physically. A local Bellaire, TX vet offers some insight on doggy anxiety in this article.

What Are The Main Causes Of Anxiety In Dogs?

There isn’t one specific issue or situation that will spark anxiety in our canine companions. Fido’s temperament, history, living situation, and breed are a few things that may come into play. That said, there are a few common triggers that can spark anxiety in dogs.

Here are a few of the key ones:

  • Separation anxiety
  • Previous trauma
  • Fear
  • Illness
  • Social anxiety
  • Schedule Disruptions
  • Conflicts with other pets
  • Discomfort
  • Fear of being home alone
  • Genetics
  • Lack of socialization
  • Moving Homes
  • Noise phobias
  • Age-related Cognitive Decline

Delving Into The Roots Of Canine Anxiety

While separation anxiety is likely the most common cause of doggy anxiety, it is by no means the only cause of canine anxiety. There are many other possible options.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the major triggers:

The Unknown: Dogs, like many people, are happiest when they feel safe and secure. Being put into a place or situation that is new can definitely scare and rattle Fido. Unfamiliar people and/or other pets can also be quite stressful for Man’s Best Buddy.

Improper Socialization: Lack of socialization is also a common factor here. Socialization must happen while dogs are still puppies. It’s very important for little Fido to be exposed to different places and faces while he is still a baby. These experiences should be fun for him, not scary. This will help him grow up to be open-minded and positive about the world. Dogs that were not properly socialized are much more likely to act anxious or aggressive as adults.

Major Changes: Like many of us, Fido is a creature of habit. Big changes can be extremely stressful for our animal companions. That may entail things like moving, getting a new roommate, whether it’s a person or pet, the loss of an owner, and changes in schedule, to name just a few.

Phobias: Did you know that dogs can get phobias? Thunderstorm anxiety is a common one. Many dogs are frightened of loud noises. One example of this would be a dog that was kenneled too often becoming very scared of crates. (Sadly, this is not uncommon in dogs that were abused or neglected.)

Health Issues: Our canine pals can develop many of the same types of illnesses and injuries as people can. However, they don’t understand what is going on. Anything that affects Fido’s senses, mobility, or nervous system could spark anxiety. Canine dementia, for instance, is sometimes the source of anxiety in older dogs. 

What Is Separation Anxiety?

Separation anxiety is the most common form of doggy anxiety. Fido is wired to function as part of a pack. In the wild, dogs are nearly always with their buddies. Your pet may instinctively feel uneasy if he is left alone. Our canine pals can’t exactly talk their issues out in therapy, so they tend to try and release that angst however they can. If you come home to find that your dog has made a mess in your absence, separation anxiety is probably to blame.

Any dog can get separation anxiety. However, it’s particularly common in rescue dogs, likely because they have been abandoned by owners before. Dogs that have been rehomed are also more prone to this.

What Are The Signs Of Anxiety In Dogs? 

Fido, of course, can’t tell you how he feels. You’ll need to keep a close eye out for warning signs. These may vary a bit, depending on how stressed Fido is and what is upsetting him. 

For instance, if your pet is fearful of something, such as a loud noise, he may shake, tuck his tail, hide, or try to get away from the situation. This is one reason that lost pet reports spike around the Fourth of July: many pups are so terrified by the noise and commotion of fireworks that they try to bolt. A dog that is suffering from separation anxiety may be more prone to indulging in destructive behaviors, such as digging and chewing, while he is home alone. 

Here are some key symptoms:

  • Trembling
  • Tail-Tucking
  • Hiding
  • Reduced Activity
  • Escape Attempts
  • Panting
  • Pacing
  • Licking
  • Tail Chasing
  • Diarrhea
  • Fear Urination
  • Hot Spots/Lesions From Licking Or Biting
  • Tail-Chasing
  • Yowling/Barking when left alone
  • Destructive Behaviors (getting into the trash, digging, destroying furniture)
  • Cowering
  • Digging
  • Not eating
  • Urinating more frequently
  • Soiling inappropriately
  • Restlessness
  • Licking the lips
  • Showing the whites of the eyes (whale eye)
  • Looking away

In some cases, anxiety can also cause dogs to act aggressive. 

If you know or suspect that your four-legged pal has anxiety, and/or have noticed any of these in your dog, reach out to your animal clinic today. 

Are Certain Breeds More Prone To Anxiety Than Others Are? 

While any dog can develop anxiety, and for a variety of reasons, it is a bit more frequent in certain breeds. That roster includes the following pups: 

  • German Shepherd
  • Australian Shepherd
  • Border Collie
  • Jack Russell Terrier
  • Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
  • Bichon Frise
  • Toy Poodle
  • Labrador Retriever
  • Cocker Spaniel
  • German Shorthaired Pointer
  • Vizsla
  • Chihuahua
  • Basset Hound
  • German Shorthaired Pointer
  • Dachshund
  • Greyhound
  • Miniature Schnauzer
  • Shetland Sheepdog
  • Yorkshire Terrier

As mentioned above, any pooch that has been abused, neglected, or rehomed is also at risk, as are those with certain medical issues, such as dementia. Ask your Bellaire, TX vet for more information. 

How Do I Help My Dog Cope With His Anxiety? 

The good news is that there are several things you can do to help your furry bestie cope a bit better. 

The first thing you will want to do is reach out to your vet. If there is an undiagnosed medical issue to blame, it’s important to have that diagnosed immediately. In some cases, medication may be the best way forward. Never give your dog anything unless your vet specifically recommends it. With some pups, behavioral training may be required. 

It’s also important to make sure that your canine companion is getting enough stimulation and exercise. Walking and playing with Fido will give him a chance to burn off that excess energy in a healthy way. This is also good for bonding. Trying to keep your pet on a steady schedule for those strolls and play sessions can also help, by fostering a sense of security. 

If your furry pal has separation anxiety, you may want to consider getting him a buddy. Of course, this would depend on your pet’s personality. This isn’t a decision to make lightly, so you’ll need to think it over carefully. Making the right match is also crucial: if FIdo doesn’t like his new roommate, he may get even more upset.

There are also calming products that may help. These include calming shirts, suitable chews, comfort beds, and toys. Ask your Bellaire, TX vet for recommendations. 

There are also a few don’ts to keep in mind. You should never punish your dog for acting uneasy or anxious. Fido doesn’t really understand punishment: He’s just trying to express and protect himself in the only way he knows how. Reprimanding him may just make matters worse and could even make him scared of you. Your best bet is to focus on positive reinforcement. Ask your vet for specific advice. 

Visit Your Bellaire, TX Pet Clinic

Do you have questions about your dog’s health or care? Contact us anytime! As your local Bellaire, TX pet hospital, we are always happy to help!