The Complete Guide to Caring for Your Dog’s Anxiety: What You Need to Know
By Will Bangura,, M.S., CBCC-KA, CPDT-KA, (Dog Behaviorist), Certified Dog Behavior Consultant
Are you concerned about your dog’s anxiety? Is your pup exhibiting signs of anxiety or stress? If so, it’s important to understand the causes and treatments for dog anxiety so you can provide your pup with the best care possible. After all, the most important thing for any pet parent is to ensure the health and wellbeing of their beloved companion.
In this complete guide, we’ll cover what causes dog anxiety, signs of dog anxiety, and the best treatments for dog anxiety. We’ll also discuss how to prevent anxious behaviors in dogs, what to do if your dog is anxious, and the pros and cons of anxiety medications for dogs. Finally, we’ll provide you with some tips on how to use food, toys and activities to help calm an anxious dog, as well as how to deal with an anxious dog in public.
What Causes Dog Anxiety?
Anxiety in dogs can be caused by a variety of factors, including genetics, environmental stressors, and trauma. Genetics plays a role in how a dog’s temperament is formed and can make them more prone to anxiety. Environmental factors such as loud noises, changes in routine, and unfamiliar people or animals can also be triggers. Trauma, such as physical or emotional abuse, can also contribute to anxiety in dogs.
In addition to these factors, some breeds of dogs are more prone to anxiety than others. For example, herding breeds like Shetland Sheepdogs, Border Collies, and Australian Cattle Dogs can be more prone to stress and anxiety due to their instinctual desire to “herd” or protect their families. Other breeds, such as Maltese and Pomeranians, are also more prone to anxiety due to their small size and more timid personalities.
Signs of Dog Anxiety
Being able to recognize the signs of anxiety in your dog is key to providing them with the best care possible. Common signs of anxiety in dogs include panting, trembling, chewing or licking themselves excessively, hiding, and pacing. Your pup may also bark or growl at unfamiliar people or animals, or become aggressive when provoked. If your pup is displaying any of these behaviors, it’s important to take action quickly.
The Best Treatments for Dog Anxiety
The best treatments for dog anxiety will depend on the severity of your pup’s symptoms. Here are some of the most effective treatments for dog anxiety:
Natural remedies for Dog Anxiety, such as CALM DOGS Veterinary Formula Maximum Strength Calmid Aid for Dog Anxiety. You can also use essential oils such as lavender and chamomile to help soothe your pup’s anxiety. Be sure to read up on the best practices for using these natural remedies before administering them to your pup.
In some cases, medications can be used to help manage your pup’s anxiety. Talk to your vet about the best medications for your pup’s specific needs. Common medications used to treat anxiety in dogs include alprazolam, clomipramine, and fluoxetine. Be sure to talk to your vet about the potential side effects and risks associated with these medications before giving them to your pup.
Behavioral modification is one of the most effective ways to help manage your pup’s anxiety. This can include desensitization, counterconditioning, and positive reinforcement. Desensitization involves introducing your pup to the triggers of their anxiety in a gradual and controlled way. Counterconditioning is a process of replacing your pup’s negative behavior with a positive one. Positive reinforcement involves rewarding your pup’s good behavior with treats or praise.
Preventing Anxious Behaviors in Dogs
There are some steps you can take to help prevent anxious behaviors in dogs. Make sure your pup is getting plenty of exercise and is provided with a safe environment. Keep your pup’s routine consistent and provide them with plenty of mental stimulation. Spend some time playing with them and providing them with positive reinforcement. If you know your pup is anxious around certain people or animals, avoid exposing them to those triggers.
What to Do if Your Dog is Anxious
If your pup is exhibiting signs of anxiety, the first step is to talk to your vet. They can help you assess the severity of the anxiety and recommend the best course of treatment for your pup. If your pup’s anxiety is mild, you can try using natural remedies or behavioral modification techniques to help manage their symptoms. If their anxiety is more severe, they may need to be placed on medications.
Anxiety Medications for Dogs: Pros and Cons
Anxiety medications for dogs can be effective in treating severe anxiety, but they come with some potential risks. Common side effects of anxiety medications for dogs include lethargy, decreased appetite, and excessive thirst. Long-term use of these medications can also lead to liver or kidney damage. It’s important to talk to your vet about the pros and cons of anxiety medications for your pup before starting them on a course of treatment.
Foods to Help Calm an Anxious Dog
Certain foods can help to calm an anxious dog. Feeding your pup foods high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, can help to reduce inflammation and promote a feeling of calm. Other calming foods for dogs include bananas, blueberries, and sweet potatoes. Avoid feeding your pup sugary treats or processed foods, as these can lead to an increase in anxiety.
Toys and Activities to Help Calm an Anxious Dog
Engaging your pup in interactive toys and activities can be a great way to help reduce their anxiety. Puzzle toys, such as those that require your pup to move pieces to get a treat, are great for providing mental stimulation. Interacting with your pup through activities like fetch or tug-of-war can help to reduce their stress levels. Taking your pup for walks or runs can also be beneficial, as it helps to reduce stress hormones and release endorphins.
Dealing With an Anxious Dog in Public
Dealing with an anxious dog in public can be a challenge, but there are some steps you can take to help make it easier. If possible, try to avoid taking your pup to places with lots of people or other animals that could trigger their anxiety. If you need to take them out, make sure to keep them on a short leash and provide plenty of positive reinforcement. If your pup’s anxiety becomes too much, it’s best to take them home.
Anxiety in dogs can be caused by a variety of factors, including genetics, environmental stressors, and trauma. Being able to recognize the signs of anxiety in your pup is key to providing them with the best care possible. The best treatments for dog anxiety will depend on the severity of your pup’s symptoms, but may include natural remedies, medications, and behavioral modification. There are also some steps you can take to help prevent anxious behaviors in dogs and to help calm an anxious dog in public. If your pup is exhibiting signs of anxiety, it’s important to talk to your vet to determine the best course of treatment for them.
By following the tips and advice outlined in this guide, you can help ensure your pup’s health and wellbeing. If you’re concerned about your pup’s anxiety, talk to your vet today to find the best treatment for your pup.