Dogs have a hard time showing us how they feel, and sometimes we miss the small signs of discomfort that our dogs show. They suffer from anxiety, too. It can affect all kinds of breeds and can lead to serious behavioral problems. We have to help them and get them treated for their canine anxiety. Luckily, dog owners can now take preventive actions and treatments for their dogs.
Here are symptoms of dog anxiety and the treatments that dog owners need to know.
What Causes Dog Anxiety?
There are several causes for dog anxiety. The most common are
Fear can be as simple as loud noises, change of environment, a new and strange people or animals, visual stimuli like a large umbrella or hat, situations like going to the vet or even the feeling of grass on their feet. Any or all of these can trigger fear especially if they are new to some of these situations or experienced something terrible in these situations.
Separation Anxiety affects about 14 percent of dogs. Dogs who are left alone or separated with their families can find it uncomfortable and will manifest strange behaviors like urinating and defecating inside the house or destroying furniture and even barking.
Aging also causes anxiety for dogs. When they get older, they develop cognitive dysfunction syndrome (CDS) that affects their memory, learning, and perception. Awareness starts to decline. This can lead to discomfort and anxiety.
Symptoms Of Anxiety
How can you tell if your dog is showing signs of anxiety? The symptoms below are some of the vital signs to look for in your dogs.
- Being aggressive
- Out of Breath
- Destructive Behavior
- Being depressed
- Unreasonable barking
- Being restless
- Compulsive behavior
Aggression is the most distressing symptom a dog with anxiety can show. Direct or indirect aggression can be dangerous to owners and dogs. Aggression occurs the dog acts widely towards another dog or person, even the owner. Indirect aggression will be very dangerous especially when the owner tries to control the dog. This can be harmful to the dog, the owner and any element in between.
A well-trained dog urinating and defecating inside the house is a symptom of this so-called separation anxiety. This action can also be dangerous because dogs with heightened anxiety often break out of their dog crates and doors which leads to severe injuries and expensive treatments.
Treating Dog Anxiety
Consult a veterinarian. They can help you identify what kind of anxiety your dog has and help you manage it. Veterinarians can also figure out if there are other medical conditions your dog has and find the best treatment.
Once you figure it out, your veterinarian can help you plan treatment. Since a variety of factors causes anxiety in dogs, the best treatment is usually through a series of training, preventive actions and strategies and in some cases, medication.
Training And Counterconditioning
There are many ways to train your dog. Your vet will help you plan treating strategies. There is a counterconditioning. This is to change your dog’s response to the factors that cause anxiety and instead of displaying anxiety or aggression, your dog will be trained to sit and focus on something else.
Another way is desensitizing your dog. Introduce your dog to what causes him anxiety in small doses. Repeating this and giving reward for positive behavior will change the way your dog reacts.
It is not always easy to train dogs with anxiety, so it’s better to have a professional dog trainer’s help.
Elder dogs who have anxiety are given medication like antidepressants. In predictable anxiety-producing events such as thunderstorms, benzodiazepine is delivered to your dog to help cope with stress.
Preventing Dog Anxiety
Learn how to read your dog’s body language and know when he is uncomfortable or stressed out. Body language can also show that a dog has anxiety or aggression. Prevent this by understanding small details of their body language and avoid whatever causes it.
Introducing your dog to new people, animals and situations can prevent your dog from having anxiety when you go out for a walk or go to the vet.
Obedience training can help prevent a dog’s anxiety. Your dog will surely have a good response when faced with stressful situations, and you won’t have a problem with your dog socializing in a controlled environment.
Exercise And Nutrition
Keeping your dog healthy can help you prevent any behavior problems. You can quickly rule out areas that your dog doesn’t need extensive help with at the moment.
For dogs with anxiety, you can then avoid situations that trigger their anxiety, and if those situations are unavoidable, then you can do preventive measures so your dog can have less stress when entering the said situation.
Take Action Now
Don’t let your dog’s anxiety control your and your dog’s life. Seek help from your veterinarian and take preventive actions and treatments to help your dog and give him the best life possible.