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Doggy Anxiety: Helping Fido Cope

May 1, 2024

Did you know that dogs, like humans, may suffer from anxiety? Our canine buddies are highly emotional. Fido can experience fear, depression, loneliness, and grief. This can be rather taxing on him, both emotionally and physically. This essay by a local San Antonio, TX veterinarian provides some insight into doggy anxiety.

What Causes Anxiety In Dogs?

There is no single issue or event that will cause anxiety in our canine companions. Fido’s attitude, background, living situation, and breed are all factors that could come into play. 

That said, there are a few typical causes that might cause anxiety in dogs.

Here are some of the main ones:

  • Separation Anxiety
  • Previous Trauma
  • Fear Illness
  • Social Anxiety
  • Schedule Disruptions
  • Conflicts Among Pets
  • Discomfort
  • Fear Of Being Home Alone
  • Genetics
  • Lack Of Socialization.
  • Household Relocation
  • Noise Phobias
  • Age-Related Cognitive Decline

While separation anxiety is probably the most common cause of canine anxiety, it is far from the only one. There are plenty of others.

Let’s take a deeper look at some of the main triggers.

Major changes: Fido, like many of us, has a tendency to form habits. Large changes can be highly upsetting for our animal companions. Moving, finding a new roommate, whether a human or a pet, losing an owner, and scheduling adjustments are just a few examples.

The Unknown: Dogs, like many people, are most content when they feel safe and secure. Fido may get scared and rattled when he is placed in an unfamiliar environment or circumstance. Unfamiliar persons and/or other pets can be very stressful for Man’s Best Friend.

Improper socialization: A lack of socializing is also an ongoing issue here. Socialization must begin while dogs are still puppies. It’s critical for young Fido to be exposed to new places and faces while he’s still a baby. These events should be enjoyable for him, not frightening. This will help him develop an open mind and a positive attitude toward the world. Dogs who were not adequately socialized are far more prone to exhibit anxiety or aggression as adults.

Phobias: Were you aware that dogs can develop phobias? Thunderstorm anxiety is a good example. Many dogs are afraid of loud noises, including fireworks. Another example is a dog who has been kenneled frequently and has developed a fear of crates. (Sadly, this is not uncommon in pets who have been abused or neglected).

Health Concerns: Like humans, our canine companions can suffer a variety of illnesses and injuries. However, they have no idea what is going on. Anything that impairs Fido’s senses, movement, or nerve system may cause anxiety. Canine dementia, for example, can cause anxiety in older pups.

What is Separation Anxiety?

Separation anxiety is the most prevalent type of dog anxiety. Fido is wired to work as part of a pack. In the wild, dogs are almost always with their friends. Your pet may feel uneasy if he is left alone. Our canine companions are unable to express themselves in therapy, so they try to vent their anxiety in other ways. If you return home to discover that your furry pal has made a mess while you were away, separation anxiety is most likely to blame.

Any dog can get separation anxiety. However, it is especially common in rescue dogs, most likely because their previous owners may have abandoned them. Rehomed dogs are also more likely to develop this condition.

What Are the Signs of Anxiety in Dogs?

Of course, Fido cannot express how he feels. You will need to look for warning indicators, which may change depending on Fido’s level of stress and the source of his distress.

For example, if your pet is afraid of something, such as a loud noise, he may shudder, tuck his tail, hide, or try to flee the situation. This is one of the reasons that lost pet reports increase around the Fourth of July: many dogs are afraid of the noise and commotion of fireworks and attempt to flee. A dog suffering from separation anxiety may be more likely to engage in harmful behaviors, such as digging and gnawing, while at home alone.

Here are a few key symptoms:

  • Trembling
  • Tail-Tucking
  • Hiding
  • Reduced Activity
  • Escape Attempts
  • Panting  
  • Pacing
  • Licking
  • Tail Chasing
  • Diarrhea
  • Fear Urination
  • Yowling Or Barking When Left Alone
  • Destructive Behavior (Getting Into The Trash, Digging, Ruining Furniture)
  • Soiling Improperly
  • Licking The Lips
  • Showing The Whites Of The Eyes (Whale Eye).
  • Looking Away

Anxiety can also sometimes lead to aggressive behavior in dogs.

If you know or think that your four-legged friend suffers from anxiety, and/or if you have noticed any of the following symptoms in your dog, contact your San Antonio, TX veterinarian right away.

Are Some Breeds More Anxious Than Others?

While anxiety can affect any dog for a variety of reasons, certain breeds are more prone to it. That roster contains the following puppies:

  • Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
  • Basset Hound
  • Dachshund
  • Greyhound
  • Miniature Schnauzer
  • Shetland Sheepdog
  • Yorkshire Terrier
  • Bichon Frise
  • Toy Poodle
  • Labrador Retriever
  • Cocker Spaniel
  • German Shorthaired Pointer
  • Vizsla
  • Chihuahua
  • German Shepherd
  • Australian Shepherd
  • Border Collie
  • Jack Russell Terrier

As previously stated, any pooch that has been abused, neglected, or rehomed is at risk, as are those with specific medical conditions, such as dementia. Contact your San Antonio, TX veterinarian for further information.

How Can I Help My Dog Cope with His Anxiety?

The good news is that there are a few things you can do to help your canine friend learn how to manage his anxiety better.

First and foremost, contact your veterinarian. If an undiscovered medical issue is to blame, it must be addressed quickly. For some puppies, behavioral training may be required. In some circumstances, medicine may be the most effective solution. (Note: never give anything to your dog unless your veterinarian specifically prescribes it.)

It’s also critical to ensure that your canine buddy receives adequate stimulation and exercise. Walking and playing with Fido will allow him to burn off his excess energy in a healthy way. This is also effective for bonding. Maintaining a consistent routine for your pet’s strolls and play sessions can also help by instilling a sense of stability.

If your pet suffers from separation anxiety, you could possibly consider getting him a buddy. Of course, this depends on your furry buddy’s personality. This is not a decision to be taken lightly, so Think about it carefully. Making the correct fit is also important: if Fido does not like his new roommate, he may get even more upset.

Relaxing products, such as calming shirts, appropriate chews, comfort mattresses, and toys, could also help. Ask your veterinarian for recommendations.

There are also certain don’ts to bear in mind. You should never punish your dog for exhibiting nervousness or anxiety. Fido doesn’t truly understand punishment; he’s only attempting to communicate and protect himself. Reprimanding him may exacerbate the situation and could even make him afraid of you. Your best bet is to emphasize positive reinforcement. Ask your veterinarian for particular guidance.

Visit Your San Antonio, TX Pet Clinic

Have you got any questions about your dog’s health or care? Contact us, your San Antonio, TX pet hospital, at any time! We are always eager to assist!

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North Star Animal Hospital