Canine Anxiety and How to Manage It | Alchemypet
Though it may seem like dogs and humans are two very different species, we actually share a lot in common with our canine companions. Dogs, for example, can also experience emotions just as we do. This shared emotional connection makes dogs and humans the perfect companions for each other.
Unfortunately, our dogs may encounter the same negative emotions that we do. And out of all of them, anxiety is probably the one they most commonly experience. In some estimates, up to 70% of the population have experienced dog anxiety or have exhibited behaviors related to it. Some dogs even suffer from chronic anxiety caused by physiological imbalances.
If you think your pet is experiencing anxiety, there is no need to worry yet. Anxiety is a normal response to stressors, which we’ll use interchangeably with triggers in the case of this article. It should go away once the cause is gone. The key is to identify the source of anxiety and then take steps to address it. However, some pets may experience extreme bouts of anxiety for prolonged periods, leading to severe physiological imbalances.
So, pet owners need to know how to spot anxiety in their dogs, discover their stressors, and learn how to calm them down.
How to Spot Anxiety in Our Canines
Spotting anxiety can be difficult, as its symptoms are typically subtle. Additionally, we’re not usually hypervigilant regarding behavioral changes that are often tied to dog anxiety. Therefore, we tend to catch dog anxiety when it’s already in the advanced stages. Unfortunately, canine anxiety is no longer as simple to treat when it comes to a certain point.
What’s worse is that some dogs may even experience chronic or periodic anxiety.
So, if you’re a proactive dog parent, we’ve compiled a list of the most common symptoms of dog anxiety here. Hopefully, this will help you detect canine anxiety early.
- Uncharacteristic indoor urination or defecation
- Excessive drooling
- Uncontrollable panting
- Sudden destructive behavior
There are other dog anxiety symptoms, but these are the most common and are usually the first ones to manifest in dogs. So, it’s important to spot these early on before anxiety does any long-term harm to our beloved pets.
While it’s a completely normal emotion, dogs who experience chronic and long-term anxiety may suffer from physiological health conditions. The imbalance of stress hormones in their system may cause other systems to react negatively.
Here are some of the possible effects of long-term and chronic anxiety:
- Shortened lifespan
- Heightened frequency of skin disorders
- Deterioration of cardiovascular system
Managing Canine Anxiety
Fortunately, addressing mild to moderate canine anxiety shouldn’t be complicated. And the first step of every method begins with tracing the triggers.
Cures for dog anxiety can vary depending on the underlying cause. For example, if your dog has separation anxiety, you may need to gradually increase the amount of time that you leave him alone. In this case, the keys are consistency and progression. The goal is to desensitize them to the causes.
On the other hand, certain causes of anxiety may be difficult to recreate and, therefore, impossible to train for. If your dog has noise phobias, you may need to provide him with a safe space during loud events.
Putting on specific garments that apply pressure on your dog's chest may have beneficial effects. In a blog article on VCA Animal Hospitals, Ryan Llera, BSc, DVM; Lynn Buzhardt, DVM, points to some anecdotal evidence on the effectiveness of anxiety vest for dogs explicitly designed to provide gentle pressure on your companion's chest. The idea is that pressure on the chest can cause your dogs to secrete endorphins, which is a mood booster.
Medication and Dog Vitamins
Training, conditioning, and eliminating their triggers may not always work. Some dogs have anxiety so severe that it’s impossible to do without internal intervention.
One intervention method currently rising in popularity is the mood-boosting Purple Passion Flower. Its extracts can increase gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in dogs’ brains, making them calmer and more relaxed.
Furthermore, the purple passion flower extract is also known to increase serotonin and dopamine in our dogs, known as the happy hormones. By introducing purple passion flower to our dog’s nutrition, we can make long-term improvements in their self-soothing capabilities.
Rhodiola Rosea is also slowly catching on as a holistic ingredient that promotes mood resilience. Extracts of this adaptogenic herb have been shown to alleviate anxiety by normalizing neurotransmitters in the brain, helping canines to focus.
Luckily, these ingredients are starting to pop up in many dog vitamins and calming aid for dogs formulated explicitly to improve mood resilience. Adding these to their diets while training and conditioning them can significantly improve their response to their triggers.
Final Thoughts: Canine Anxiety
Canine anxiety is a pretty common occurrence that affects up to 70% of dogs at any given time. The good news is that it’s easy to manage it if it’s detected early. However, if anxiety symptoms slip by us, our dogs would likely suffer from the effects of long-term exposure to anxiety which can be extremely difficult to treat.
If you want a more in-depth piece on dealing with canine anxiety, we suggest reading one of our previous articles titled Doggy Destressing: Ways to soothe canine anxiety. We discuss conditioning, training, and desensitization with more focus.
Hopefully, with a keen eye for the symptoms and a little luck, we’ll be able to help our dogs live happy and healthy lives free from anxiety!
For educational purposes. No product claims implied.