Anxiety in older dogs usually creeps in slowly and seems to appear out of nowhere. Since aging itself is a degenerative process, anxiety in your senior dog occurs as a result of physical or psychological problems. As our four legged friends are creatures of habit, any rapid change that is brought into their life in terms of their daily routine, family life and physical health will cause them stress which unfortunately leads to anxiety.
Symptoms of anxiety in dogs
- Trembling or shivering
- Excessive panting
- Sleep issues – sleep more or sleep less
- Appetite loss
- Tend to become more clingy
- Barking or howling when they are left alone
- Loss of bladder or bowel control
- Change in their personality
- Appear depressed or lethargic
Types of anxiety in senior dogs
Anxiety is best explained as nervousness with the presence of irrational fears. If you feel that your pet has started to get clingier and barks a lot when left alone it means that they feel insecure when you are not around them. Your dog is well aware of the slowing down process that is happening to their body and can be suffering from pain or a medical condition.
As a result, you will now have a dog that appears to be jumpy and a bundle of nerves whenever they see new faces, hear loud voices or when they are left alone. At times, the fear can be limited to a fear of thunderstorms, fire crackers or a case of separation anxiety.
Causes of anxiety in senior dogs
Anxiety in senior dogs can also be a symptom of Canine Dysfunction Syndrome, a health problem that is equivalent to Alzheimer’s in humans. This will cause changes in their sleep patterns, they will have trouble controlling their bladder, will suffer from confusion, restlessness and loss of appetite. If you notice the above symptoms in your dog then it is time for you to take action. Take them to the vet for thorough evaluation and quicker medical intervention.
Loss of bladder control in your senior buddy is bound to cause them stress, especially for a dog with exemplary toileting habits, as they understand that it is wrong to dirty the house and yet they are unable to help themselves. So, you must be patient and not punish them. Understand their problem and find a plausible solution. A vet will be able to help you.
Your senior buddy’s sense of smell, hearing, vision and taste will slowly start to deteriorate. This will cause a change in their behaviour pattern. Apart from this their body will produce lower levels of hormones that are required to effectively fight stress.
As your dog turns older, you need to understand that they are their same goofy self. Yes, they may have turned a bit slower and less confident that is why they depend on your love, support and understanding at this stage of their life.
So, do not get annoyed and frustrated when they have toileting accidents at home. Punishing or reprimanding them for their unavoidable mistakes will only cause them more stress. So, it makes sense to make them wear doggy diapers or to simply take them out more often.
It is upto you to make the last years of their life comfortable and enjoyable. They deserve it!
It is always a good idea to contact your vet for their professional advice.