You must have experienced anxiety and panic at some point in your life. This could be because of stress at work, personal problems, or fear of impending doom or danger. Well, unfortunately, this feeling of stress is not exclusive to humans only. Animals can, too, become prey to anxiety. Speaking of animals, have you ever noticed your furry friends incessantly aggressive or barking or whining all the time? If yes, then dog owners, your dog could be suffering from anxiety. So how to calm an anxious dog?
As implausible as it sounds, it isn’t. Dogs are prone to anxiety, and there could be several reasons behind the cause. To understand if your canine companion is down with anxiety or not, you shall first have to understand what anxiety is and what is the root cause of anxiety in dogs.
What are the Types and Causes of Anxiety in Dogs?
Dogs can suffer from anxiety due to changes in routine, regular caretakers, being alone for long periods, or encountering strangers. Anxiety in dogs can result in excessive barking, digging, whining, or chewing everything in sight. Intervention is required because it can also impact your dog’s health.
Anxiety in dogs can be due to various reasons, and hence it has been widely categorized into four main types:
Separation Anxiety in Dogs
This is the most common type of anxiety in dogs. This occurs when dogs are hyper-attached to their owner and get super-stressed when their owner is not around. This can even occur when your dog is separated from its regular caretakers, a location change, or even something as little as a new schedule.
If you have witnessed your dog starts whining or barking when he finds you packing suitcases or when you are leaving home, this could indicate separation anxiety.
According to studies, it was more prominent in dogs after the COVID pandemic. During the lockdown, your dogs had spent a good amount of time with you and see you go to work again after a few months was undeniably a genuine cause of anxiety.
Separation anxiety is more common in rescue or adopted dogs who have encountered similar past events that could have resulted in past trauma.
This type of anxiety is known to happen ‘out of the blue.’ There is no absolute trigger cause known to this anxiety. This can even happen in well-trained dogs.
Social anxiety in dogs is the fear of people, animals, new places, sights, sounds, or other environmental stimuli. You can figure out that your dog is socially anxious when he is fine around family members but starts to show anxiety symptoms when exposed to new people or animals. This may occur due to past rescues trauma or not being socialized frequently.
This presents the fear of going out of the house or specific locations like a vet clinic. The most common environmental stress trigger in dogs is loud noises. As we know that the range of hearing sounds is much wider in dogs, they are hence more sensitive to hearing loud and disturbing noises. This could be from fire alarms, sirens, firecrackers, or thunder. Not just house pets but stray dogs are also affected by environmental anxiety.
Symptoms of Dog Anxiety
Though a downside of the human and dog relationship is the inability to communicate properly. So you can look for these signs of anxiety in dogs in order to know how to calm an anxious dog:
- Whining /Atypical Barking/Howling to Express: If your dog starts barking or whining suddenly, it could be uncomfortable due to a stressful event. Look for patterns and situations where they show this behavior.
- Panting: Dogs, when stressed or nervous, could start panting. If this happens even when the dog has not exercised, then this is clear that your dog suffers from anxiety.
- Urinating or Defecating in the House: Nervous dogs find it difficult to control the urge to go to the bathroom. If your well-trained dog struggles to control itself, this could mean he has anxiety.
- Destructive Behavior: Eating the couch, chewing slippers or wires, tearing up rugs, or shredding up bedsheets can be self-soothing for anxious dogs. They could be doing this to calm themselves down.
- Aggressive Behavior: Even the friendliest of dogs can act aggressively when stressed. Suppose your dog starts barking at other dogs or people while on walks. This is another sign that he is stressed.
Other Dog Anxiety Symptoms Include
- Hiding or escaping
- Drooling or licking
- Frequent yawning
- Abnormal ear or eye position
- Abnormal posture
- Change in appetite
- Repetitive or compulsive behaviors
- Increased heart rate
- Lip licking
- Dilated pupils
Dog Anxiety Treatment
Even though anxiety happens in dogs at some stage in life, it requires immediate intervention at treatment. As parents, you would want to help them. You must speak to an experienced dog trainer or a veterinarian doctor. This will help your dogs in getting immediate and long-term relief.
Depending on the severity of the stress, the veterinarian will prescribe the best dog chew toys for canines with anxiety, supplements, or medications. Usually, in cases where they suffer from milder stress, toys and anxiety supplements for dogs can significantly reduce anxiety. However, cases of high-grade stress need immediate attention and may often require the inclusion of certain medications.
The following dog anxiety medications can be given in cases of extreme anxiety for how to calm an anxious dog. However, make sure to consult your dog’s veterinarian first before treating dog anxiety.
Type: Separation Anxiety/ Generalized Anxiety
Type: Generalized Anxiety
- Clomipramine (Clomicalm)
Type: Separation Anxiety/Situational Anxiety
- Dexmedetomidine (Sileo)
Type: Situational Anxiety typically due to loud noises
- Diazepam (Valium)
Type: Situational Anxiety
Type: Separation Anxiety
- Lorazepam (Ativan)
Type: Situational Anxiety
Type: Anxiety-related behaviors
- Sertraline (Zoloft)
Type: Generalized anxiety and Anxiety-related behaviors
- Alprazolam (Xanax)
Type: Situational Anxiety (Moderate to severe)
How to Calm an Anxious Dog? | Tips
We got to know what gives dogs anxiety and how to treat separation anxiety in dogs. Now, let us see how to calm dog anxiety naturally. Regardless of the type of anxiety your dog is suffering from, apart from controlling the symptoms, it is of utmost importance to cure the root cause of the problem. You could adapt some changes at home or expose your dog to some positive habits to help him relieve stress. Here are some effective natural remedies for dog anxiety that you could use to help your furry friend:
Exercise with Your Dog
We know that exercise is great for us. But researchers have revealed that humans and dogs can get a lot of relief through exercise. Exercising with your pets can help to strengthen your bond with them and help them through separation anxiety, aggression, and fear.
When your dog is anxious, there’s nothing more soothing than its owner’s touch. You should cuddle with them and give them good long petting sessions. Doing little things like taking them for a walk or rewarding them with treats like calming supplements for dogs could also do wonders. You could even give calming treat for dogs when you leave the pups alone at home, which will help them cope with separation anxiety.
A good relaxing massage could calm even the most anxious human – but did you know it works amazingly on dogs too? If your furry friend has anxiety issues, there’s nothing better than a relaxing massage. You could start at the neck and go downwards with long strokes.
Not just humans, our canine companions love music. The power of music works everywhere, whether you are with your pet at home or away from them. For people who work long hours, you could leave your dog at home with the music turned on. Also, make sure it is quiet. Moreover, studies show that dogs prefer slow classical music.
So, dog owners, heed for symptoms of dog anxiety to know how to calm an anxious dog. If you feel that your dog could plausibly be suffering from anxiety, do not make a delay in visiting your veterinarian or an animal behaviorist. They should speak to their trainers to look out for other symptoms. Furthermore, the rate of dog anxiety treatment success is very high in dogs. As dog parents, we are responsible for making our pets feel the safest. All they need is your love and attention. With a positive attitude, patience, and constant efforts, you will be able to reduce your dog’s suffering in no time.