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Canine Anxiety 101
May 1, 2024

Did you know that dogs, like humans, may suffer from anxiety? Fido may experience fear, depression, loneliness, and grief. These emotions can have a significant impact on your pet, both emotionally and physically. This informative article gives valuable insights on doggy anxiety from a local Fredericksburg TX vet.

What Are The Primary Factors That Contribute To Anxiety In Dogs?

Our furry friends can experience anxiety in many different scenarios or circumstances. Several factors, such as Fido’s temperament, history, living situation, and breed, can all play a role here. That said, there are several typical triggers that can cause anxiety in dogs.

  • Change: Just like many of us, Fido is a creature of habit. Significant changes can cause a great deal of stress for our furry friends. These changes can include relocating, finding a new roommate (human or furry), experiencing the loss of a loved one, and adjusting to a different daily routine, among other things.
  • Phobia: Dogs can actually develop phobias, just like humans. Many pups experience anxiety during thunderstorms. A lot of dogs get scared by loud noises. If a dog was confined to a kennel for an excessive amount of time, it might develop a strong aversion to being contained in crates. (Regrettably, this is a common occurrence in dogs that have experienced abuse or neglect.)
  • Health Concerns: Dogs can experience many of the same illnesses and injuries as humans. Unfortunately, their comprehension of the situation is lacking. Anything that impacts Fido’s senses, mobility, or nervous system has the potential to trigger anxiety. Occasionally, anxiety can arise in older dogs due to canine dementia.
  • New Things: Dogs, just like humans, experience the most joy when they are in a state of safety and security. Fido can feel scared and rattled when placed in a new environment or situation. Even meeting new people and other animals can be a source of stress for our beloved furry friends.
  • Lack Of Socialization: Proper socialization is crucial for dogs to develop a calm and friendly demeanor as they grow older. Socialization must begin while the dogs are still puppies. Little Fido should be introduced to a variety of environments and people while he is still young. These experiences should be enjoyable for him, not intimidating. This will help him become receptive and optimistic toward the world.

Those aren’t the only potential causes. Here are some others: 

  • Separation anxiety
  • Previous trauma
  • Fear
  • Illness
  • Conflicts with other pets
  • Discomfort
  • Fear of being home alone
  • Genetics
  • Noise phobias

Ask your vet for more information. 

Understanding Separation Anxiety

The most prevalent kind of anxiety in dogs is separation anxiety. Fido is instinctively wired to operate as a member of a pack. If your pet is left alone, he may naturally feel uncomfortable. Dogs, being unable to communicate their problems verbally, often find alternative ways to express their inner turmoil. If you return home to discover that your dog has made a mess while you were away, separation anxiety could be to blame.

Separation anxiety can affect any dog. However, it is frequently seen in rescue dogs, possibly due to their previous owners’ abandoning them. This is also a common issue with rehomed dogs.

How Can I Identify Signs Of Anxiety In Dogs?

Signs of doggy anxiety can vary, depending on Fido’s stress levels and the cause of his distress. For example, if your canine companion is scared of something, like a loud noise, they may shake, tuck their tail, hide, or attempt to escape from the situation. One reason why lost pet reports tend to increase around the Fourth of July is that many dogs become extremely frightened by the loud noises and chaos caused by fireworks, causing them to attempt to run away. When a dog experiences separation anxiety, it is common for them to engage in destructive behaviors like digging and chewing when left alone at home. Anxiety can also lead to dogs displaying aggressive behavior, which is of course a big concern.

Here are the main symptoms:

  • Trembling
  • Tail-Tucking
  • Hiding
  • Reduced Activity
  • Escape Attempts
  • Panting
  • Pacing
  • Licking
  • Tail Chasing
  • Diarrhea
  • Aggression
  • Fear Urination
  • Hot Spots/Lesions From Licking Or Biting
  • Tail-Chasing
  • Yowling/Barking when left alone
  • Destructive Behaviors (getting into the trash, destroying furniture)
  • Cowering
  • Digging
  • Not eating
  • Soiling inappropriately
  • Restlessness
  • Licking the lips
  • Showing the whites of the eyes (whale eye)

If you believe that your furry friend may be experiencing anxiety and/or have observed any of these signs in your dog, contact your local Fredericksburg TX animal clinic as soon as possible. Anxiety isn’t curable, but there are things you can do to help your pet cope.

Are Specific Breeds More Susceptible To Anxiety Than Others?

Although anxiety can affect dogs of any breed, it tends 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 Curly
  • Toy Poodle
  • Labrador Retriever
  • Cocker Spaniel
  • German Shorthaired Pointer
  • Vizsla
  • Chihuahua
  • Basset Hound
  • German Shorthaired Pointer
  • Dachshund
  • Greyhound
  • Mini-Schnauzer
  • The Shetland Sheepdog
  • Yorkshire Terrier

As previously stated, dogs that have experienced abuse, neglect, or have been rehomed are particularly vulnerable, as are those with specific medical conditions, like dementia. Feel free to consult your Fredericksburg TX veterinarian for further details.

What Can I Do To Help My Dog With His Anxiety?

Fortunately, there are several measures you can take to assist your beloved pet in managing their emotions more effectively.

start by contacting your veterinarian. If there is an undiagnosed medical issue to blame, it is crucial to get it diagnosed promptly. Medication can sometimes be the most effective course of action. Always consult with your veterinarian before giving your dog any kind of medication or supplement. Behavioral training may be appropriate for some pups.

It is crucial to ensure that your furry friend gets adequate stimulation and exercise. Taking Fido for a walk and engaging in playtime will help him release his extra energy in a beneficial manner. This is also great for building strong connections! Stability also helps. Maintaining a consistent routine for your pet’s walks and playtime can contribute to their overall sense of security.

If your beloved pet experiences separation anxiety, it might be worth considering the idea of getting them a companion. Naturally, this would depend on your budget, household, and, of course, your furry companion’s history and temperament. This is not a decision to be taken lightly, so consider it carefully. Ensuring a compatible match is essential: if Fido is not fond of his new roommate, it might even distress him more.

Finally, there is a range of products designed to promote dogs’ relaxation and comfort, such as calming shirts, suitable chews, comfort beds, and toys. Seek advice from your veterinarian for recommendations.

It’s important to know what not to do. Avoid punishing your dog for acting up when they’re feeling uneasy or anxious. Fido doesn’t really understand what punishment means; he’s just using the only way he knows how to express himself and keep himself safe. Scolding him might exacerbate the situation and potentially instill fear in him. Your best bet is to emphasize positive reinforcement. Consult with your Fredericksburg TX veterinarian for personalized guidance.

Contact Our Fredericksburg TX Pet Clinic

Do you need any assistance regarding your dog’s health or care? Feel free to reach out to us, your trusted pet hospital, at any time! As your neighborhood Fredericksburg TX hospital, we’re here to help!