Anxiety is part of nature that helps in survival. The adrenaline rush in your body helps you to flight or fight in a dangerous situation. But, anxiety that occurs without the presence of real danger is the one you need to look out for. As the main reason for it is stress.
Dogs are no different from us in experiencing anxiety. Each dog deals with stress differently and the ones that are afflicted with anxiety need professional help from the vet or a trainer.
Symptoms of anxiety in dogs
- Avoiding eye contact
- Fidgeting, looking out for exits
A secure and well-adjusted dog will find its surrounding and home stress fee. Dogs, when the move to a new place, check their environment for potential threats. So, if your dog does this regularly and has an increased sense of alertness then they can be suffering from anxiety. Any behaviour they exhibit that stops them from enjoying what they used to is always a cause for concern. A dog that is anxious cannot relax and may have symptoms such as excessive shedding and changes in their eating habits and sleep.
Causes for anxiety in dogs
To look for causes of anxiety in dogs you need to look at their environment. Any form of physical or mental abuse and torture can lead to anxiety in dogs. Apart from this there are also other factors that need to be carefully examined.
Generalised anxiety disorder is common in dogs that often go unnoticed or misdiagnosed. The dogs affected by it show difficulty focussing, are slow to learn commands and perform poorly in group training class.
Any small changes in their routine or environment is enough to upset your pet and cause stress leading to anxiety. For instance, moving to a new home, introducing new pets or strangers to them or changing their feeding bowls and brand of dog food is enough to cause them stress.
To avoid causing unnecessary stress it is strongly recommended that you stick to your daily routine and introduce new things to their life slowly and with careful planning. A vet or a trainer will help you make the smooth transition.
Dog breeds prone to anxiety
Some dogs are more prone to anxiety than others. The breeds that are highly susceptible to anxiety are Germen Shepherds, Labrador Retrievers, Border Collies, Shorthair Pointers and small breeds like Cocker Spaniels, King Charles Spaniels, Greyhounds and many other toy dogs. Smaller breeds like the Chihuahua, Miniature Pinscher, Jack Russell Terrier and Shih-Tzu can show signs of anxiety as well.
Separation anxiety in dogs
If your dog behaves well when you are at home but show destructive behaviour once you leave them alone and go out, then they are suffering from separation anxiety. The cause of this is mainly due to boredom and loneliness. To curb this, you need to get them some chew toys and other entertaining toys and treats while you are away. It is also a good idea to exercise them well before you leave so they feel calm and relaxed. Most importantly, you need to be patient with your pet and make them feel secure.
When to seek a vet’s help for your dog’s anxiety?
A concerned pet parent should seek a vet’s help to treat their pet’s anxiety only if they feel that anxiety is hindering their pet’s quality of life, when it affects their caregivers happiness and before the behaviour turns habitual in their pet.
Treatment for dogs with anxiety
Behaviour modification is the best way to treat anxiety in dogs. You need to redirect a bad behaviour to a good behaviour. This can be achieved only through consistent training by all the members in the family.
Pet parents need to watch out for any behaviour that is not normal in their pet as it can cause serious physical and mental health problems. Signs of worsening anxiety in dogs include destructive behaviour at home, self – mutilation, aggression and restlessness.
Along with behaviour modification your vet can also prescribe an anti-anxiety medication for your pet which helps them deal with anxiety efficiently.