Do you have an anxious dog? Have you ever heard of general anxiety in dogs? If you think your dog is dealing with anxiety, what should you do for her? Is there any way to treat or manage this condition in your pet?
If you find yourself asking these questions, don’t worry—you’re not alone. In the article below, you’ll find a quick rundown of information to help you better understand general anxiety in dogs. You can use our Holmdel, NJ, animal hospital‘s guide to determine when it might be time to talk to your vet about your pet’s mental health needs.
Symptoms of General Dox Anxiety
Dogs who are very anxious may pace often. This behavior can occur during the event that is giving your dog anxiety, but it may also happen when nothing concerning is going on, too. Pacing can indicate pain as well, so keep this in mind.
Very anxious and frightened dogs may hide as much as possible. Hiding can be a sign of pain as well, however, so rule out physical pain before assuming your dog’s hiding behavior is related to anxiety.
Shaking, like pacing and hiding, may also indicate pain. If only part of your dog’s body is shaking—like just one leg—then pain may be the culprit. However, if your dog is trembling all over and you have ruled out seizures, she could have anxiety instead.
Inappropriate Bathroom Behaviors
Many times, dogs who have anxiety will urinate and defecate inappropriately, even if they are typically completely potty trained. If your dog is peeing or pooping indoors with no apparent reason, she could be dealing with anxiety. However, she could also have a physical health problem contributing to this issue, and she should be checked by a vet to rule out this risk.
Dogs who are very anxious may become destructive, especially during the source of their anxiety. For example, if your dog is very anxious during storms, she may try to chew up pillows or furniture in your home when she hears thunder.
Aggressive behavior is less commonly seen with anxiety and more often associated with fear. However, it is possible that some dogs may become aggressive and defensive when dealing with severe anxiety. Sudden changes in your dog’s behavior may indicate physical health problems too and should be checked by a vet.
Dogs who are always very clingy and closely attached to one or more human family members may have anxiety as well. Your dog should feel comfortable enough to spend some time in another room, away from you, even if she doesn’t have to do this very often.
Vocalizing may come in a variety of forms. Some dogs may bark nonstop when dealing with anxiety episodes, while others may howl or whine. Any type of vocalizing associated with anxiety may be included in this category and can be a serious problem for some pet owners.
Treatment and Management of Dog Anxiety
In moderate to severe cases of canine anxiety, your vet may prescribe anti-anxiety medication or antidepressants for your dog. This treatment is typically a last-ditch effort, however, and most vets would prefer to manage your dog’s anxiety issues through other means instead. If your dog’s anxiety is so bad that it interferes with her life as well as with yours, though, this may be a time when medication is a good idea.
Training is an excellent way to help your dog cope with situations that make her anxiety worse. It may take a long time and a lot of patience, but helping your dog learn to associate anxiety situations with positives (like lots of treats and praise) can go a long way toward cutting down on her overall anxiety and fear, too.
Mental stimulation can encourage your dog to use her brain so much that she doesn’t have the energy for anxiety anymore. Just like humans distracting themselves from anxiety with hobbies and activities, dogs can enjoy the same benefits of mental stimulation.
Like mental stimulation, physical exercise can wear your dog out enough that she isn’t as interested in anxiety responses. She is likely to rest better if she has regular daily exercise, and she may not be as jumpy, either.
Our Holmdel, NJ, Vets Can Help with Your Dog’s Anxiety
As you can see, general anxiety presents itself in a variety of ways when it comes to dogs. However, many of the symptoms can make it very clear that your pet is struggling mentally and emotionally. If you think your dog may be dealing with anxiety, talk to your vet to figure out the best course of action.
In mild cases, dogs may not need medication to cope with anxiety issues. However, in moderate to severe cases, anxiety medication may go a long way toward helping your dog enjoy her life without anxiety hanging over her much of the time.
Our Holmdel, NJ, animal hospital offers treatment, including behavioral medicine if needed, for your dog’s anxiety. Give us a call at (732) 671-3110.