What are Feeling Anxious?
Just like humans, almost all dogs feel some anxiety once in awhile. It is a fear of danger or the unknown. However, having serious anxiety often is not good for your dog (or for you). Most dogs are able to handle stress from a traumatic situation, but some are more high-strung than others and may need some help staying calm. Some of the signs of anxiety in your dog include hiding, whining, howling, chewing on things, chasing his tail, soiling indoors, licking or excessive grooming, tucked up tail, shaking, red eyes, and flattened ears. You may know right away why your dog is anxious or you may have no idea. Some of the reasons for anxiety in most dogs are:
- Strange people or animals
- Loud noises
- Separation anxiety
It may come on suddenly due to a traumatic incident or your dog may have always been a little on edge. No matter which type of anxiety your dog has, you should try to take steps to help him because, just like humans, stress is not good for him. You can call your veterinary health provider to get some suggestions on what you can do to ease your dog’s anxiety.
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Why Feeling Anxious Occurs in Dogs
There are many reasons your dog may be showing anxiety, some that are obvious and some that you may never figure out. Nevertheless, these are some of the common reasons why anxiety in dogs occurs:
Strange People or Animals
It is natural for your dog to be wary of strangers and unfamiliar animals. Barking at squirrels or rabbits outside is also normal and probably happens every time your dog goes outside. This type of behavior is not really anxiety, it is more of a built-in reflex. But, if your dog is constantly scared when you have guests and hides or growls when you are trying to enjoy a visit, you may want to consult your veterinarian for tips on what you can do.
Loud noises such as storms and thunder are typical causes of anxiety. This may cause your dog to hide during thunderstorms or even become so scared that he shows physical symptoms such as vomiting, defecating in the house, or trying to escape. In this case, your dog needs medical or behavioral intervention.
There are a lot of dogs with separation anxiety when you first start leaving him home alone, but this should fade within a few days or weeks, once he knows you are coming back.
Crate training is a common way to potty train your dog and it can be a safe place for him to go when he just wants to get away from everyone. However, you cannot keep him in there all of the time or it will feel like confinement, which will make your dog hate being in the crate for any amount of time. There are behavior training techniques that can help you crate train your dog.
In some cases, your dog may be anxious because he is not feeling well. Remember, we cannot be sure what he is thinking or feeling so we have to use body language cues that can help figure it out. For example, if your dog is laying around, whining, not eating much, and seem uninterested in playing or exercising, this may be a sign that your dog is ill and you need to take him to see the veterinarian.
Certain breeds seem to be more prone to anxiety than others such as:
- Border Collies
- German Shepherds
- Great Pyrenees
- Bernese Mountain Dogs
- Chesapeake Bay Retrievers
- Shorthaired Pointers
- Siberian Huskies
- Australian Shepherds
- Bichon Frises
- Cocker Spaniels
What to do if your Dog is Feeling Anxious
If your dog is stressed out when you have company over, you should try to get him used to those people who visit often or are going to be there for a while. For example, if your children come visit from a different state and they will be there for several days, you should try to get him acquainted with them so he will not have to be locked up or hiding the whole time. In some cases, your dog may become aggressive and may even try to bite someone. In that case, you will need to call your veterinarian and get a referral to a canine behaviorist.
During thunderstorms, you should try to distract your dog. Turn up the radio or television to block out the sounds, Speak calmly and softly and tell him that it will be okay.
To keep your dog from getting anxious when you leave, try to get him used to you being gone by leaving for short periods of time. You can put him in the cage for this time or leave him out. Try being gone for five minutes, ten minutes, and keep increasing the times until you are able to leave him alone for several hours without a problem. If you have trouble, call the veterinarian for help.
Some dogs just do not like crates, but most can be convinced that being in the cage means safety. To do this you should leave the cage door open when cage training and give your dog a treat every time he goes to the crate when ordered to.
There are many illnesses that can manifest as anxiety. Some common ones include viral infections, cancer, and other serious illnesses. You should make an appointment with a veterinarian right away to get your dog checked out.
Prevention of Feeling Anxious
Because anxiety is a natural reaction to fear, you cannot get rid of all your dog’s anxiety. That being said, you can help your dog overcome their anxiety by finding ways to distract or calm your dog during anxious moments. There are some tips that are reportedly helpful such as music, speaking in a quiet and calm voice, and exercise.
Cost of Feeling Anxious
The cost of treating anxiety in your dog depends on the cause of the anxiety. Most treatments are things you can do at home on your own, but it you need to visit the veterinarian, the cost is about $50-$75 for an office visit. If your dog needs behavioral training, the cost can range from $100 to $800, though can be higher if your dog is slow to respond to therapy. A serious illness, such as cancerous growths of the mouth, can cost $10,000 and more.
Feeling Anxious Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals
What can I do to stop my dog from escaping her crate and then urinating and defecating once she escapes the crate? She is now squeezing herself out of the crate and she broke the crate. I have her on two medications, one is Xanax and the other is fluoxetine. I started those last night. The medications did not relax. I’ve already tried trazodone too.
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Our dog has suddenly appeared very anxious and will not stay in our house. She continues to paw at the side door, leading us to the backyard gazebo where she wants to be on a chair in there. She also periodically turns her head to her back leg. She also has her tail down and is very unsettled. This has never happened before and nothing has changed in our very calm household.
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