Panic Attacks in Dogs

Panic Attacks in Dogs - Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery, Management, Cost

Most common symptoms

Aggression / Itching / Licking / Separation Anxiety / Seperation Anxiety / Shaking

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Rated as serious conditon

61 Veterinary Answers

Most common symptoms

Aggression / Itching / Licking / Separation Anxiety / Seperation Anxiety / Shaking

Ask a Vet
Panic Attacks in Dogs - Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery, Management, Cost

Jump to section

What are Panic Attacks?

A panic attack in dogs is similar to a panic attack in humans in that their heart rate and breathing usually increase, shaking may occur, and while they bite on their skin and fur, people will sometimes bite their nails. However, dogs do not have the ability to express their fears like humans do so they tend to show it in other ways like hiding, barking, or growling. Most of the time, the panic attack is not long and subsides when you give him some attention by talking calmly and petting him.

While it may not seem like a big deal to you, if your dog has recurrent panic attacks, they should be treated because they can lead to a weakened immune system and other health problems. In addition, the panic attack may be caused by an underlying medical condition, so it is best to take your dog to a veterinary care provider if it happens more than once or if you cannot calm him down.

A panic attack can be a serious problem if your dog displays aggression or self-mutilation such as biting or chewing on himself. Your dog may have a type of anxiety that causes such extreme distress that he has a sudden outburst. It could be triggered by noise, confinement, or any kind of change that may seem minor to you, but not to your dog. There are several kinds of anxiety in dogs, but not all include panic attacks. They are not always serious either, as sometimes your dog may only choose to hide while other times he may attack someone.

Symptoms of Panic Attacks in Dogs

A panic attack can come out of the blue with no warning or it may occur every time a certain thing triggers one. You may not even realize your dog is having a panic attack because the signs are similar to other behavioral problems. Some of the most common signs of a panic attack include:

  • Rapid breathing
  • Fast heart rate
  • Drooling
  • Dilated pupils
  • Pacing
  • Loss of appetite
  • Ears back and tail tucked under
  • Hiding
  • Shaking or trembling
  • Excessive licking or chewing on skin and fur
  • Whining or howling
  • Barking more than usual
  • Extreme aggression such as growling or biting
  • Overly attentive (climbing on you, licking you)
  • Behavioral problems such as digging or scratching
  • Trying to escape or run away (scratched up door or damaged fence if owner is not home)
  • Urinating or defecating indoors

Types

There are four main types of anxiety that can cause panic attacks in dogs.

  • Confinement anxiety causes a dog to get anxious when he is confined indoors or outdoors in any space he cannot get out of
  • Travel anxiety may be caused by both motion sickness, confinement, or just from a new experience
  • Noise anxiety can occur during thunderstorms, fireworks displays, or any other loud or sudden noise
  • Separation anxiety is caused by being alone or being without the one they want such as a playmate or person they usually play with

Causes of Panic Attacks in Dogs

Each different type of anxiety has its own set of causes, which include:

Confinement Anxiety

  • Fenced in a yard
  • Inside dog pen or kennel
  • Shut in a room
  • Trapped in an enclosed space on accident

Travel Anxiety

  • Driving in a car
  • Flying on an airplane
  • Riding on a train or bus
  • Visiting strange places

Noise Anxiety

  • Thunderstorms
  • Fireworks
  • Ambulance/police/firetrucks
  • Other loud or unexpected noises

Separation Anxiety

  • Being left alone
  • Loss of a loved one or playmate
  • Major life change
  • Suffering a traumatic event

Diagnosis of Panic Attacks in Dogs

If your dog has had more than one panic attack, you should have him checked by your veterinary care provider. A complete physical examination and maybe some laboratory tests (fecal smear, urinalysis and complete blood count) should be done to make sure your dog does not have any underlying conditions that need treatment. If you have video of your pet while he is in a panicked state, be sure to bring that along with you to the clinic. Keeping record of the circumstances of the attacks is a valuable tool as well. Documentation of the events can help to pinpoint triggers, in addition to providing key information for the veterinarian.

Cannanine

Treatment of Panic Attacks in Dogs

If your dog continues to have panic attacks, the veterinarian may prescribe anxiety medication or therapy.

Medications

Some of the most common medications that have been successful in treating panic attacks include tranxene, fluoxetine, buspirone, amitriptyline, and alprazolam.

More Exercise

Some experts encourage more vigorous exercise for pets with anxiety and panic attacks. The idea is that the workout will tire your dog physically and mentally so he will not be as anxious. Also, the brain releases increased serotonin, which works like an antianxiety drug.

Give Your Dog a Safe Haven

A small room or cage that is just for your dog where he can go to get away can make them feel much safer when needed. Encourage your dog to go to his safe place by bringing him there when he has a panic attack and staying with him until he is calm. However, do not close the door or the cage.

Recovery of Panic Attacks in Dogs

Although it may take some time and patience, panic attacks can be managed by working with your dog to help ease the anxiety. If you still have trouble with anxiety, there are pet therapists you can see that may be able to help.

*Wag! may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page. Items are sold by the retailer, not Wag!.

Panic Attacks Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

dog-name-icon

Mickey

dog-breed-icon

Pit bull

dog-age-icon

8 Months

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate condition

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

Whining

I have always been around my dog, so when I leave he gets upset in his kennel since he can't see me, but when we go on walks and he hears other dogs barking, he begins to whine and bark, he jumps on me and nips my clothes like he wants something, he has even torn my shirt doing this, it's like he's freaking out and I can't get him to calm down and listen, how do I get him to stop?

Sept. 24, 2018

Mickey's Owner

dog-name-icon

Turkish

dog-breed-icon

English bull terrier

dog-age-icon

1 Year

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate condition

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

Shaking, Tail Tucked, Whinning

I have a 1 ½ year old English Bull Terrier named Turkish. We had one incident a few months back in a store where we were walking around and out of nowhere he started pulling, loudly yelping and whining in a very panic manner. We took him down a different isle and worked on commands, sit, shake, etc. until he calmed down enough to check out. Just today we had a similar incident when I was walking him around the neighborhood. We go on walks in this area every morning. About 5 blocks into the walk Turkish heard another dog barking and seemed confused. We kept walking and two houses down a second dog began barking. None of this is unusual for our walks. However, as soon as the second dog started barking; Turkish started whimpering and shaking. With his tail between his legs he tried to take off. We turned around headed back home stopping occasionally to try to do commands but this time he couldn’t shake his panic. He remained whimpering, tail tucked, shaking and pulling the 5 blocks back home. I got him to do some commands once home but his tail remained tucked and he seemed to be on very high alert while fallowing me around before I had to go to work. I left him with a toy full of treats and fingers crossed. Is this a panic attack or something else?

Sept. 5, 2018

Turkish's Owner

dog-name-icon

Dakota

dog-breed-icon

German Shepherd

dog-age-icon

5 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate condition

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

Licking At Genitals
Drooling
Panting
Whining
Pacing
Hyper

My german shepherd is 5 years old and has never had any issues. This past week he will not let me walk with getting in front of me and he must be touching me at all times. At night it worsens he begins to hyperventilate, whine, and try to jump on my bed and get under me. He doesn't calm down even if I lay with him and pet him. Its getting out of hand. Please help.

Aug. 29, 2018

Dakota's Owner

dog-name-icon

Kuma

dog-breed-icon

Shiba Inu

dog-age-icon

2 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate condition

thumbs-up-icon

1 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

Panting

Our 2 year Old Shiba suddenly start panting and trembling last night. we took her for a walk and let her paly in the dog park for a while and that helped her a little. But she was panting again around midnight and trying to dig a hole in our bed and peed there. Is this panic attack, what should we do about this?

Aug. 17, 2018

Kuma's Owner

answer-icon

Dr. Michele K. DVM

recommendation-ribbon

1611 Recommendations

There may have been something that Kuma could hear that you weren't able to, if this is the first time that this has happened. It will help to make sure that she is tired before bed, and possibly have some white noise playing in the background for her tonight. If it continues to happen, she may be having a problem with her urinary tract, or she may need anti-anxiety medications that a veterinarian can prescribe for her.

Aug. 17, 2018

dog-name-icon

Nala

dog-breed-icon

Shitzu

dog-age-icon

1 Year

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair condition

thumbs-up-icon

1 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair condition

Has Symptoms

Running Around

Nala started to dumb around the house. We thought it was Bc she had trouble pooing. So we took her outside and she tried to run away. She went past the point she knows not to go past. I tried holdin her and Cali Cher down but then she kept randomly shaking in my arms. I let her down she started breathing hard I tried givin her water she didn’t want any. I let her upstairs and she went under my parents bed and won’t come out. This is the first time it’s happened I don’t know what to do.

Aug. 14, 2018

Nala's Owner

answer-icon

recommendation-ribbon

3320 Recommendations

It is difficult to say what is specifically causing this behaviour/symptoms, if Nala is having trouble defecating you should think about popping some plain canned pumpkin in her food to see if it help loosen things up. Without examining her I cannot determine if there is anything medically to be concerned about, you should keep an eye on her and visit your Veterinarian if there is no improvement. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Aug. 14, 2018

dog-name-icon

Turbo

dog-breed-icon

Airedale Terrier

dog-age-icon

6 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious condition

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious condition

Has Symptoms

Terrified
Extreme Panic
Howl/Scream

Turbo seems to have an extreme panic attack when being woken up by a sudden noise. The noise isn’t even loud but he will get up and almost be screaming with complete panic. We can usually get him to be quiet in a few seconds but he still remains scared and anxious for the next 30 minutes to an hour with mostly panting and his tail tucked between his legs. The most recent time this happened was when someone in the house went to get a cup of water at night and the noise from picking up the cup caused him to panic. He was so scared that he even peed and pooped a little. Whenever he has these attacks he hold his one front paw up and even sometime limps after. (He had broken this leg and had needed surgery when he was around 1). This has only happen a total of 5 times and first started happening a few months ago. He is also scared of gun shots, fireworks, and thunderstorms but never acts so extreme.

dog-name-icon

Betsy

dog-breed-icon

Border Collie

dog-age-icon

3 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious condition

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious condition

Has Symptoms

Trembles + Flight Mode Kicks In.

My 3 year old border collie bitch has always been somewhat obsessional.When we come in she has to run round the outside house a couple of times before she actually greets us & seemingly compulsive running round the house is always present.She is not overly affectionate & often avoids eye contact but always sits next to my chair in the evenings. The obsessional behaviour is not really a problem but recently when I have taken her for walks on our local forest she has taken to suddenly becoming jittery & stressed & then running away completely ignoring my commands which she normally obeys. more often than not there are no other people or dogs around. Usually she runs the mile or so to home but she has run off & been found by someone on the road & taken to our local vets.She seems to be spooked by the sound of children's voices even from our local primary school about half a mile distant - we have had her from a puppy & there have been no adverse experiences with children & the actuality of children's presence does not bother her - she loves our two small granddaughters - it's the sound of more distant childrens voices voices which seem to trouble her & it is getting worse so much so that I can no longer walk her off the lead for fear she'll run off. She has also become nervous if she sees other people on a walk.She suddenly exhibits troubled or stressed body language, tries to pull away on the lead,trembles & is not interested in treats or anything I do to try to reassure her - she just wants to get away. Any advice or thoughts would be gratefully received.

dog-name-icon

Asti

dog-breed-icon

Staffordshire Bull Terrier

dog-age-icon

3 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate condition

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

Separation Anxiety

She has slept in the bathroom on her bed with our other dog for 3 years and in the last month or so she has been having bad panic attacks that take up to 2 hours to calm her down, as soon as I put her in there she starts panting, shaking and tries to climb out the window. We just don't know what had changed as she use to love going in there.

dog-name-icon

Kin

dog-breed-icon

Shih Tzu

dog-age-icon

5 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate condition

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

Urinating In House

hi ive had my dog for a little over 3 years now and hes been amazing, but about a year and a half ago after leaving him with my grandparents over the summer for a few weeks he came back with a real attitude, not willing to wlk as much or do anything outside, sometimes i can barley get him round the corner before he stops on me and pulls me back home and more recently he has been peeing indoors whenever he is left alone for than a few minutes, i believe hes having panic attacks and wanted to ask what i should do, ive taken him to the vets but they say he hasnt got a UTI or anything physicly wrong with him

dog-name-icon

Layla

dog-breed-icon

Dachshund mix

dog-age-icon

7 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate condition

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

Shaking
Whining
Crawling / Jumping All Over People
Jumping Off And On Furniture
Trying To Get Out Of Apartment

My dog is a seven-year-old dachshund mix that I've had for a little under a year. Right from the get-go, she was diagnosed with general anxiety and separation anxiety. After getting worse from the medication prescribed, she was taken off everything and has calmed significantly. However, every once in a while, she will have what the vet describes as a panic attach - jumping / crawling all over me, heavy panting, shaking, jumping on and off of furniture continuously without stopping. This might sound weird - but the one thing that will calm her is if I hide my face / cover myself with a blanket so she can't see my face or head. It's almost as if this gets her attention and she realizes what she's doing. She's a great dog that has helped my with my own mental health struggles, so we stick by each other :) Good luck everyone!

Cannanine