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Dogs and Anxiety
May 1, 2024

Did you know that dogs can experience fear, depression, loneliness, and grief? These things can have a significant impact on Fido, both mentally and physically. Man’s Best Friend can also have anxiety. In this article, you’ll gain some valuable insights on doggy anxiety from a local Urbana, MD vet.

What Causes Anxiety in Dogs?

Our canine companions can experience anxiety in many different situations and circumstances. Factors such as Fido’s temperament, history, living situation, and breed can all play a role. However, there are several typical triggers that can cause anxiety in dogs.

Here are some of the important ones:

New Things: Fido may love adventure, but he’s also a creature of habit. Being placed in a new environment or situation can certainly be intimidating and unsettling for Fido. Even just meeting new people and/or pets can be quite stressful for some of our furry friends.

Lack of Proper Socialization: Fido’s socialization—or lack thereof—has a huge effect on his personality and character as an adult. Dogs must be properly socialized during their puppyhoods in order to grow into healthy, happy adults. Fido will need to experience a variety of environments and interact with all sorts of people during his early stages. These experiences should be enjoyable for him, not intimidating, and must happen during the early stages of development. This helps pooches develop a mindset that is receptive and optimistic towards the world. Dogs that were not adequately socialized are significantly more prone to displaying anxious or aggressive behavior in adulthood.

Big Changes: Significant changes can cause a great deal of stress for our furry friends. That could involve things like moving, getting a new roommate (human or furry), adjusting to the loss of or separation from a prior owner, and even schedule changes.

Phobias: Just like people, dogs can develop phobias. Many are scared of loud sounds, like fireworks.

Health Concerns: Anything that impacts Fido’s senses, mobility, or nervous system has the potential to trigger anxiety. Canine dementia, for example, can cause anxiety in older dogs.

Separation Anxiety: Separation anxiety is the most frequently seen type of anxiety in dogs. Fido is instinctively wired to thrive as a member of a pack, and often gets rather uneasy if left to himself. When a dog experiences separation anxiety, they may exhibit destructive behaviors like digging and chewing when left alone at home. He can’t tell you how he feels, so he may express himself by making mischief. If you return to discover that your dog has created a mess while you were away, it’s likely due to separation anxiety.

Separation anxiety can affect any dog. However, it is quite prevalent in rescue dogs, possibly due to their previous experiences of being abandoned by owners.

Of course, these are just a few of the most common reasons. Others include past trauma, genetics, and tension with other pets, to name just a few.

What Are The Signs Of Doggy Anxiety?

Fido can’t say how he feels, so you’ll have to watch for warning signs. These may vary slightly, depending on Fido’s stress levels, personality, and the cause of his distress. For example, if your pet is scared of something, like a loud noise, then he might tremble, tuck his tail, find a hiding spot, or attempt to escape from the situation. One reason why lost pet reports tend to increase around the Fourth of July is because many dogs become extremely frightened by the loud noises and chaos caused by fireworks, and run away out of fear.

Other signs of canine anxiety include the following:

  • Destructive Behaviors (getting into the trash, digging, destroying furniture)
  • Fear Urination
  • Hot Spots/Lesions From Licking Or Biting
  • Tail-Chasing
  • Yowling/Barking when left alone
  • 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

If you believe that your furry companion may be experiencing anxiety, and have observed any of these signs in your dog, it is recommended to contact your local Urbana, MD animal clinic for assistance. Keep in mind that many of these things can also indicate medical problems. It’s important to get to the bottom of Fido’s behavior.

Is It More Common For Some Types Of Dogs To Get Anxious Than Others?

Although anxiety can affect dogs of all breeds, it does tend to be more common in certain breeds. The roster includes the following adorable dogs:

  • 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 stated earlier, dogs that have experienced abuse, neglect, or have been rehomed are particularly vulnerable, as are those with specific medical conditions like dementia. Consult your veterinarian for further details.

How Do I Care For An Anxious Dog?

Anxiety can’t really be cured, but there are several measures you can take to teach Fido how to cope with his doggy angst.

  • Contacting your veterinarian should be the first step. If there is an unknown medical issue to blame, it is crucial to get it diagnosed promptly.
  • In certain situations, medication might be the most suitable course of action.
  • Behavioral training may be helpful for some pups.
  • Ensuring that your furry friend receives adequate mental and physical stimulation is crucial. Taking Fido for a walk and engaging in playtime will help him release his pent-up energy in a positive and beneficial manner. Our canine friends are always a bit calmer after a fun play session. This is also great for building strong connections. Maintaining a consistent routine for your pet’s walks and playtime can contribute to a sense of stability and comfort.
  • If your furry companion struggles with separation anxiety, it might be worth considering the idea of getting them a companion. Of course, there are a lot of things to take into consideration here, including your household, budget, schedule, family, and other pets. Making the right match is also crucial. If Fido is unhappy with his new roommate, it could further distress him.
  • Additionally, there are products available that are made specifically to soothe nervous pets, such as calming shirts, sprays, chews, comfort beds, and toys. Consult with your veterinarian for suggestions.

What Should I Not Do With An Anxious Dog?

Sometimes knowing what not to do is just as important as knowing what to do. It’s important to avoid punishing your dog for acting up because he is feeling uneasy or anxious. Fido doesn’t really understand punishment; he’s just expressing himself and unleashing his frustration in the only ways available to him. Reprimanding him could potentially exacerbate the situation and create fear towards you. That said, you don’t want to go too far in the other direction and coddle him, either. It would be most effective to prioritize positive reinforcement. Consult your Urbana, MD veterinarian for personalized guidance.

Book An Appointment At Your Urbana, MD Pet Clinic

Do you need any assistance regarding your dog’s health or care? Feel free to reach out to us, your Urbana, MD pet hospital, at any time! We are delighted to assist you as your neighborhood pet hospital!