Restore Peace to Your Pet
Anxiety is now the most common mental health illness among people in the United States. So it’s not surprising to learn that even pets can experience it. As much as we need to look after our own health, the same needs to be done for our pets who rely on us for safety and security. But if It’s often hard to manage anxiety in ourselves, how will we be able to recognize and treat the symptoms of anxiety in our dog?
It’s easier to be on the lookout for signs of anxiety if you know your pup is about to enter a stressful situation. Common times when dogs feel anxious include:
- Changes in their daily routine. This can be related to a switch in meal times, missing a walk, the addition or loss of someone in the household, rearranging of furniture, or anything that varies from what they’ve become accustomed to.
- Separation. Similar to how children are uncomfortable when separated from their parents, dogs can have separation anxiety. This is very common in canines, as they easily develop strong attachments to their pet owners. Therefore, they feel uneasy when left alone. They’re left to deal with feelings of boredom, loneliness, or even confusion.
- Traveling. Some dogs love to be on the go, and some don’t. Whether it’s feeling uncomfortable with a new destination or location outside of the home, or having to sit in the car, a plane, or crate for long periods of time, many pets do not enjoy traveling.
- Social Situations. Social anxiety typically occurs when your dog was deprived of social interaction while they were a puppy. It’s important for dogs to be welcoming and accustomed to greeting and seeing other dogs and people, as social anxiety can make many situations unpleasant for them. Walks may prove to be more difficult, classes will be overwhelming, taking them along on trips can be an issue, and it’ll simply deprive them from the joy of enjoying puppy playdates or receiving attention from others.
- Vet visits. Humans certainly don’t enjoy their physicals, so why would pets? They have no understanding of why they are taken to a strange place where all sorts of animals are poked, pinched, touched, given shots, etc. Vets can especially make them nervous if they’re going there while already feeling sick; they’ll wonder why there are people in the office possibly making them feel worse with needles and sudden movements.
- Loud Sounds. Dogs have a very heightened sense of hearing. That’s why loud sounds scare them away, like thunder, vacuums, fireworks, etc.
- Illnesses. Certain illnesses will cause your dog to experience symptoms and changes that they won’t understand and will certainly be confused by. These changes in their abilities and body may cause anxiety.
- Past experiences. If your dog has had past traumatic experiences, especially if they came from a shelter or is a rescue, then they may feel anxiety constantly. Or it can be triggered by certain things that you are not aware of related to how they were once treated.
These are not the only times when your dog can feel uneasy, though they are the most common. Watch out for these signs of anxiety in your dog:
- Whining / whimpering
- Excessive barking
- Spontaneous elimination (urination/defecation)
- Biting / chewing everything
- Excessive licking
If your pet shows any of the above symptoms or if you suspect that your dog may have anxiety, consult with your veterinarian. They’ll likely run tests to determine whether or not your dog has anxiety or is showing similar symptoms due to another cause, such as illness. If it is in fact anxiety, the solution will depend upon how severe it is in your pet. Medication may be prescribed by your veterinarian, though there are other methods that may help. The method that works best also depends upon the root of your pet’s anxiety. Solutions may include keeping a consistent routine for your pet that you and the residents of the house can stick to, providing them with enough exercise to release pent up emotions and energy, sufficient time and a designated place to rest and get away from the busyness or sounds of the household, removing triggers of their anxiety such as loud sounds, etc. Some may even try to introduce their dogs to their trigger in short bursts, giving them the opportunity to become used to it each time they are exposed. This should be done with the approval and help of your veterinarian. Lastly, there are many products out there that are specifically designed to calm your pet and relieve stress. These include CBD supplies, the ThunderShirt, sprays, chews, supplements, shampoos, diffusers, etc.
As many people in today’s society know, anxiety is no fun and can occur at the most inopportune times. Your pooch trusts you to be the one to help them sort out how they are feeling and get back to feeling peaceful and calm!