Anxiety is a state of turmoil and restlessness that manifests in different forms. Just like people, our furry friends experience negative emotions when subjected to stress and unpleasant situations, and if left untreated, it may worsen and result in prolonged psychological instability. It’s essential to recognize dog anxiety signs, understand the pathology, and treat the condition as soon as possible.
1. The leading causes of anxiety for dogs are noise and fear.
Multiple causes can generate anxiety in dogs, some more obvious than others. A peer-reviewed study on 13,700 Finnish pet dogs has found that out of 72.5% of canines exhibiting stress-related problems, 32% of the hounds had noise stress, and 29% were frightened.
These two causes shouldn’t come as a surprise for most dog owners as it may even apply to us. Not everybody enjoys the phonic pollution of the 4th of July or coming face to face with strangers in elevators.
More specifically, dogs are most afraid of fireworks, thunder, gunshots, other dogs, humans, and new situations. The study also referenced other stress-inducing problems, respectively:
- Fear of surfaces and heights;
- Inattention or negligence;
- Compulsive behavior;
- Hyperactivity and impulsivity;
2. The main symptoms of stress are aggression towards others, self, or objects.
Severely anxious dogs are usually hostile towards their own, others, or even to themselves through self-biting. Because of this, larger hounds present an increased risk as their bite is more powerful. Other symptoms entail compulsive behaviors such as:
- Surface licking;
- Vocalizing, salivating, or panting;
- Frequent urination;
- Tail chasing;
- Pacing, chasing, or running away;
- Snapping at flies;
- Fixating or staring.
Just like us, pooches are individuals with unique personalities. Many might not even exhibit classic symptoms. However, it’s fundamental to deduct abnormal behavior and ask ourselves if that particular act is within biological normality. For instance, a dog howling like a wolf or grooming itself excessively might not be in order. Shivering, cowering, lacrimation, limping, or gaging might also be signs of nervousness.
3. Some dog breeds are more vulnerable to anxiety than others.
A study conducted by Dr. Adam Denish of the Rhawnhurst Animal Hospital, with the support of a professional essay writing service such as Bestessay.com, found that smaller-sized canines have a slightly higher clinical incidence. Although no dog is immune to anxiety, some breeds seem to be more susceptible than others. A higher case incidence doesn’t confirm a genetic predisposition, but rather a statistical observation. Common smaller anxious breeds include:
- Miniature Pinscher;
- Basset Hound;
- Cocker Spaniels;
- Jack Russell Terrier.
As stated before, there isn’t a definitive correlation between size and anxiety, which means that bigger hounds can be just as anxious as their smaller counterparts. Furthermore, due to their size, larger dogs can present aggravating symptoms and behaviors. For example, nervous barking is louder, scratching the furniture is more damaging, and so on. Some of the larger breeds prone to stress are:
- Lagotto Romagnolo;
- German Shepherd;
- The Great Pyrenees;
- Siberian Huskie;
- Bernese Mountain.
Following earlier genetic and statistical studies, it seems that mixed breeds, alongside Lagotto Romagnolos and Wheaten Terriers, are the most sensitive canines to noise. At the same time, Miniature Schnauzers and Staffordshire Bull Terriers are the least susceptible to noise stress.
4. Human mishandling is bound to create an anxious pet.
Most owners love their pups and would never willingly harm their four-legged friends. However, a responsible future dog owner should first inform themselves about adequate living environments and training methods. Puppies between one and three years old are most susceptible to developing fears and phobias.
It goes without saying that traumatic incidents, abuse, violence, and abandonment will develop lasting anxiety issues. Nonetheless, other seemingly inoffensive human habits may also contribute or even create stress issues:
- Providing too much attention or in inappropriate situations;
- Cuddling, touching, grooming or inciting excessively;
- Negatively interfering with natural canine behavior;
- Depraving of social interactions, especially with other dogs;
- Dressing, accessorizing, applying cosmetics, or body modifications;
- Exposure to smoke, alcohol, or similar substances can not only be stressful but life-threatening.
5. A tired dog is a happy (and chill) dog.
A very effective way of treating and preventing health problems, including anxiety, is to exercise your dog regularly. Different beneficial chemicals and hormones are released when running and doing sports. Endorphins are fundamental to both humans and animals, so it makes sense to ensure plenty of physical activities for your furry companion. Playing frisbee outside is better than making your pooch run on a treadmill or pull on a rope tied to your leg while you watch TV. Anyway, make sure he gets plenty of activity, so he can sleep well and relax while you’re gone.
6. Natural herbs, pheromones, and devices are safe and actually work.
The consumer market has developed thousands of substances, tools, and methods in order to take care of your cat, dog, or pet alligator. Still, not all of them work and are bound to set you back tens if not hundreds of dollars. It’s vital to check with your vet and make sure your not sold dreams and wishes, or worse, products that do more harm than good. Proven, patented merchandise such as ThunderEase Calming Products will provide fast results for a variety of stressful situations:
- A gentle shirt wrap for your cat or dog provides comfort for the animal, simulating a constant comforting touch;
- Natural pheromones have a chemically calming effect;
- Essential oils such as lavender, geranium, and chamomile provide a soothing atmosphere;
- Organic supplements like melatonin, l-tryptophan, and vitamin-B balance nutritional and cellular needs;
- Specially designed eye-covers will naturally tranquilize the animal from unwanted visual stimuli;
- Unique masks will help block disturbing noises from outside.
Keep in mind that natural remedies do not include drugs and inorganic medication. Administer only under the supervision of a veterinarian and if other methods proved inefficient.
7. Professional help is sometimes the only way of treating anxiety.
Identifying triggers and deconditioning is a skilled endeavor. There’s no shame in admitting you’re not sure how to solve your beloved’s problem.
There’s a wise saying that the road to hell is paved with good intentions.
Moreso, certain circumstances require additional resources you might not have, such as a therapy dog or pack, formal training in canine psychology and behavior, specialized tools and medication, etc.
In conclusion, anxiety in dogs is a complicated subject matter that requires reliable analysis and treatment methodology. Some instances are accompanied by comorbidities such as hypothyroidism, encephalitis, pre-diabetes, and thyrotoxicosis. Particular cases of dog anxiety need professional help to heal, and inadequate treatment can be detrimental. The rule of thumb is to always check with your veterinarian or animal handler before attempting training techniques.
About the author, Scott Mathews
Scott Mathews is an entrepreneur and a blogger, specialized in marketing and management. He’s a trained professional in writing and business networking, with outstanding publications internationally and across the United States. Scott is a dog lover himself and running aficionado who enjoys life, plant-based foods, TV series, and reading news online.