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Doggy Anxiety: Providing Support for Fido

May 1, 2024

It may surprise you to learn that dogs and people can experience anxiety. Our dog friends have strong emotions. Fido may go through periods of anxiety, melancholy, loneliness, and bereavement. He may have some physical and emotional strain from this. Some insight into dog anxiety might be found in this essay written by a Wheat Ridge, CO veterinarian.

What Makes Dogs Feel Anxious?

No one thing or circumstance will ever make our dog friends anxious. Factors such as Fido’s breed, living conditions, temperament, and background could all be relevant.

Having said that, dogs could become anxious for a few common reasons.

Fears: Did you Know that dogs can get phobias? Anxiety related to thunderstorms is one example. Many pooches are scared of loud noises, such as fireworks. A dog who has spent too much time kenneled may be afraid of crates. (Sadly, with neglected or abused pets, this is not unusual.)

Health Issues: Similar to people, Dogs may face a variety of ailments and injuries. Fido may become anxious about anything that affects his nervous system, mobility, or senses. For instance, nervousness in older puppies can result from canine dementia.

Significant Changes: Like many of us, Fido is a creature of habit. Our animal companions may get extremely distressed by significant changes. A few instances are moving, getting a new roommate—human or animal—losing an owner, and adjusting schedules.

The Unknown: For Man’s Best Friend, unfamiliar people and/or other animals can be extremely upsetting. Just like many people, dogs are happiest when they feel safe and comfortable. Fido may become frightened and disturbed if he finds himself in an unusual setting or situation.

Inappropriate Socialization: Dogs need to be socialized from an early age. It is imperative that little Fido be introduced to new environments and people while he is still a newborn. He should find these experiences enjoyable rather than terrifying. Proper socialization is key to helping your pup have an open mind and a positive outlook on the world and everything in it. Adult dogs who were not properly socialized are considerably more likely to display hostility or anxiety.

Canine Separation Anxiety

Separation anxiety is the most common type of anxiety in dogs. Fido is more or less programmed to function in a pack. After all, our canine pals are nearly always with their friends in the wild. If your pet is left alone too much, he might feel lonely and uncomfortable. Because they can’t communicate in treatment, dogs often attempt to find other ways to release their stress … such as by eating the sofa or digging up the yard. If your pet makes a mess when left alone, he may have separation anxiety.

Separation is particularly common in rescue dogs, most likely as a result of abandonment by or separation from their prior owners. Dogs who have been rehomed are also highly susceptible to it.

What Warning Signs Indicate Anxiety in Dogs?

Fido is unable to communicate his emotions. The warning signs will vary from pup to pup, and may also change based on a pup’s stress level and the cause of his discomfort.

For instance, a pup that is scared of something may tremble, tuck his tail, hide, or attempt to run away. This is one of the reasons there are more lost pet reports around July 4th: a lot of dogs try to run away from the noise and chaos of the fireworks, just out of fear. When a dog is alone at home and experiencing separation anxiety, it may be more prone to indulge in destructive activities like digging and gnawing.

These are some of the main symptoms:

  • 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
  • Trembling
  • Tail-Tucking
  • Hiding
  • Reduced Activity
  • Escape Attempts
  • Panting
  • Pacing
  • Licking
  • Tail Chasing
  • Diarrhea
  • Showing the whites of the eyes (whale eye)
  • Looking away

Aggression can also be a sign of anxiety. It can also be very dangerous: if you notice signs of aggression in your furry pal, contact a pet behaviorist right away. 

You’ll also want to get in touch with your Wheat Ridge, CO veterinarian immediately if you believe or know that your four-legged friend is experiencing anxiety, or if you have observed any of those symptoms in your pup.

Are Certain Breeds More Anxious Than Others?

Any dog can experience anxiety for a variety of reasons, but some breeds are more likely than others to experience it. The following pups are on that roster:

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

As was previously said, dogs who have experienced abuse, neglect, or rehoming are vulnerable, as are those who suffer from certain medical problems like dementia. 

How Can I Help My Dog Deal With Being Nervous?

Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to help your canine companion improve his doggy anxiety management skills.

Get in touch with your veterinarian first and foremost. If an undiagnosed medical condition is the cause, it must be diagnosed and treated immediately. Some puppies might need to undergo behavioral training. Sometimes, taking medication is the best course of action. (Note: only give your dog anything if it is properly prescribed by your veterinarian.)

Comfort beds, toys, calming clothing, and suitable chews can also help keep your pet occupied and calm.  Ask your veterinarian for suggestions.

Making sure your canine friend gets enough exercise and stimulation is also essential. Playing and going on walks can help Fido get rid of some of his extra energy in a healthy way. This also facilitates bonding. Try to keep your furry pal on a steady routine: dogs tend to thrive most when they are kept on a steady schedule.

If your four-legged friend gets anxious when left alone, you might want to get him a friend. Of course, this depends on Fido’s temperament. Consider your options carefully; this is not a decision that should be made hastily. Adoption is forever! You’ll need to consider your household and finances. Selecting the right fit is also crucial: Fido could become even more irate if he doesn’t get along with his new roommate. 

There are also some things you should avoid doing. Never discipline your dog for showing signs of worry or anxiousness. Fido is just trying to communicate and defend himself; he doesn’t really understand punishment. If you chastise him, his anxiety may actually get worse. He may even start to fear you. Positive reinforcement is the best course of action. And while it’s fine to comfort Fido, you don’t want to coddle him too much, as that may reward the behavior.

Visit Your Wheat Ridge, CO Pet Clinic 

Do you have any inquiries regarding the care or health of your dog? Is Fido due for an appointment? Get in touch with your Wheat Ridge, CO  pet hospital whenever you like! We’re always happy to help!