One of the challenging parts of being a dog owner is that they are unable to effectively communicate with us when something is awry. That's why, when it comes to concerns like anxiety, we need to be aware of the alarm bells so we can support our paw-friends. Dogs, like us, struggle with anxiety. Dog anxiety affects all breeds, yet it differs from one dog to the next and if excessive levels of worry are not addressed, they might develop an anxiety disorder. Dog anxiety, if left untreated, can develop into behavioural and other problems.
How can you tell whether your dog suffers from anxiety? What can you do to help a dog who is anxious? We're here to walk you through all you need to know about dog anxiety, including the most prevalent causes, symptoms, treatments and prevention.
Causes Of Dog-Anxiety
Fear-related anxiety: Loud noises, unfamiliar persons or animals, visual stimuli like hats or umbrellas, new or strange locations, specific scenarios- like the vet's office or car rides- or surfaces like grass or wood floors can all trigger fear-related anxiety. Although some dogs may have only a fleeting reaction to these stimuli, they may have a more significant impact on anxious dogs.
Separation anxiety: Around 14 per cent of dogs are believed to suffer from separation anxiety. When dogs with separation anxiety are left alone or separated from their family, they are unable to find solace. Unwanted actions including urinating and defecating in the house, destroying furniture and furnishings, and barking are common manifestations of anxiety.
Age-related anxiety: Older dogs suffer from age-related anxiety, which has been linked to cognitive dysfunction syndrome (CDS). Memory, learning, perception, and consciousness begin to deteriorate in CDS dogs, comparable to the early stages of Alzheimer's disease in humans. Senior dogs are understandably confused and anxious as a result of this.
Symptoms Of Dog-Anxiety
The most obvious symptoms of dog anxiety include:
- Urinating or defecating in the house
- Destructive behaviour
- Excessive barking
- Repetitive or compulsive behaviours
Some of these symptoms may be the result of one-time anxiety-inducing situations, but any of them might become persistent, leading to more critical challenges. Aggression is, without a doubt, the most severe indication of dog anxiety. Depending on the situation, this aggressiveness can be addressed directly or indirectly. When a dog acts violently against people or other animals, this is known as direct aggression. Indirect aggressiveness, which occurs when a person stands between the dog and the cause of the dog's aggression, such as another dog, can be just as dangerous.
Treatment For Dog Anxiety
Medical treatment: Your veterinarian may prescribe drugs or alternative treatments if your dog develops a major anxiety issue. SSRIs and antidepressants, such as fluoxetine and clomipramine, are sometimes used for dogs with anxiety. To assist your dog cope with predicted anxiety-producing situations such as thunderstorms, fireworks, or automobile journeys, your veterinarian may recommend a benzodiazepine in combination with an antidepressant.
Behavioural training: Doctors urge that you strive to shift your dog's negative association of being alone to a good one by offering it something he enjoys, such as food puzzle toys that will keep him interested longer while you are gone. And, if the animal is coping at the previous level, you can progressively increase the amount of time you leave it alone. It's the same premise as turning a negative association into a positive one when it comes to noise- combining the frightening event with something the animal prefers.
A furry friend: Getting another dog can help if your dog's separation anxiety is triggered by the loss of a canine companion. If the dog's separation anxiety is triggered by the loss of a buddy and the dog is accustomed to having another dog around all of the time, adopting another dog may be the solution. However, if the anxiety is brought simply by being separated from humans, adding another dog is unlikely to help.
Prevention Of Dog Anxiety
Socialisation: Anxiety can be avoided by proper socialisation. Introducing your dog to new people, dogs, pets, places, and experiences can help your dog become a well-adjusted canine citizen and avoid an overblown response down the line.
Obedience: Dog obedience training is a vital strategy for preventing and managing anxiety in dogs. It creates trust and lays the groundwork for a strong connection. Obedience classes are an ideal location for dogs to meet other dogs in a controlled atmosphere, and well-trained dogs are easier to socialise than dogs that haven't been trained.
Exercise and nutrition: For a dog's physical and mental development, regular exercise and stimulation are essential. An engaged dog that receives proper nourishment is less likely to develop destructive tendencies. Taking care of your dog's physical and mental requirements can help you avoid behaviour problems that aren't caused by anxiety, as well as identify the areas where your dog requires the greatest assistance.
Also Read: Don’t Miss Your Pet’s Regular Checkup. Here’s Why