Just like humans, dogs can experience anxiety that can cause a range of unhealthy behaviors. Today, our Las Vegas vets discuss the symptoms and causes of anxiety in dogs and how you can help your pup feel better.
Is your dog acting like they may be anxious? Our Las Vegas vets often see dogs suffering from anxiety for a number of reasons. In many cases, the symptoms of anxiety can lead to destructive behaviors that many pet parents are unable to cope with.
If you think your dog is experiencing anxiety the best thing to do is schedule an appointment with your veterinarian for an exam. They will be able to diagnose your pup, rule out any other underlying conditions, and offer you solutions or treatments to help your dog feel better.
Dog Anxiety Symptoms
There are a number of signs that your dog could be suffering from anxiety:
- Destructive behaviors such as chewing
- Obsessive paw licking
- Repetitive or compulsive behaviors
- Spontaneous bowel movement or urination
- Panting for no reason
- Pacing aimlessly
- Whimpering, trembling, or whining
While anxiety in dogs can be difficult for both the pet and their owners, there are other health concerns with could also be the cause of your dog's symptoms. If your dog is exhibiting any of the behaviors or symptoms above, contact your vet to book an examination for your pooch.
Causes of Anxiety in Dogs
Our canine companions are creatures of habit that are happiest when there are steady routines in their lives. Any major life changes or distressing events can have a significant impact on their emotions.
Although more obvious events such as their owner’s death or prolonged absence can bring on symptoms of anxiety or depression in dogs, other less extreme events such as a move to a new home, injury or illness, change in routine, or even a new roommate could be the cause of your pup's gloomy demeanor.
In general, dog anxiety can be broken into three major categories: fear-related anxiety (anxiety caused by loud noises, new environments, etc.), separation anxiety, or age-related anxiety. Age-related anxiety happens in older pets with cognitive dysfunction or confusion that causes once familiar situations to seem new and stressful.
How To Help a Dog With Anxiety
Anxious dogs generally benefit from predictable environments, closely controlled social interaction (if the cause is related to other dogs or people), and a consistent routine including lots of physical activity.
Here are a few more tips on how to help you to reduce your dog's depression or anxiety:
Visit Your Veterinarian
- Some symptoms of depression and anxiety can actually have physical causes that need urgent attention. The first thing you should do if your dog seems anxious or depressed is to schedule a visit with your vet. While some dogs will benefit from behavior training, others may require anti-anxiety aids to help calm their nerves if things don’t show signs of improvement.
Keep Your Dog's Body & Mind Active
- Boredom or too much time alone can often lead our furry friends to become anxious. Make sure your pooch gets plenty of exercise before you leave for the day, and supply your pup with enough toys to keep them busy in order to help quell your dog's anxiety. Look for toys that are interactive or can be stuffed with treats to keep your pup's body and mind active while you're out of the house.
Training & Counterconditioning
- There are a few behavioral tactics that can help dogs with anxiety. One such is counterconditioning, a training method that changes your dog’s response to whatever stimulus is responsible for the anxiety. This is usually done by replacing the anxious behavior with more desirable behavior, like sitting. Another is desensitization, in which the owner slowly introduces the source of anxiety in small doses while rewarding them for positive behavior and providing lots of encouragement (and treats).
Make Time For Socialization & Play
- Our dogs are social creatures that love to be around people and other animals. If your dog is suffering from anxiety or depression you may want to consider getting a companion animal for your pup or take your lonely pooch to the dog park, group classes, or doggie daycare for additional social interaction.
Show Your Pooch Plenty of Love & Patience
- Of course, our pets need lots of love and patience in order to feel safe and contented - even more so when they are prone to feeling anxious. By giving your dog some extra time and attention you may be able to alleviate these issues and restore your pup's sense of fun and happiness.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.