Canine Anxiety: Symptoms, Diagnosis, and What You Can Do About It

Treating Canine Anxiety

Canine anxiety can happen to dogs of all breeds and sizes. If left untreated, it may get worse over time. So as the symptoms start to manifest at the early stages, it is best to start working on a behavior modification plan to reduce them and prevent this often-destructive behavior from doing any more harm. Keep reading to learn more about managing and treating canine anxiety.

Anxiety in Dogs: What to Know About Treating Canine Anxiety

Anxiety Symptoms

The first and very important step to treating canine anxiety is to know what causes it. Here are three of the most common causes:

  • Fear
  • Separation
  • Aging

A lot of dogs show anxiety in subtle ways. While most owners interpret this as the animal “acting out,” hardly any of them realize that this is far from normal behavior. Determining canine anxiety symptoms can be tricky, as they tend to be very restrained and could vary in the manner of manifestation. The most obvious symptom to look out for is excessive barking. If your pet barks at just about everything, you might want to seek help from an animal behavior specialist. Other anxiety symptoms include an excess of activities such as yawning, panting, licking, shaking, or hiding from the slightest stimuli.

Anxiety may also be associated with the dog’s phobia. A majority of dogs tend to start panting heavily over loud sounds like thunderstorms or fireworks. They could even be seeking shelter from their owners or hiding between the covers at the slightest sound like the ones a house appliance makes. Though these cases are circumstantial, this type of behavior should still be given attention.

Dog owners should take note that excess energy could be a disguise for anxiety as well. Dogs that keep jumping off the wall or at their owners despite receiving the right amount of exercise in a day could also be suffering from canine anxiety. Whatever “odd” behavior your dog displays, make sure you record the magnitude and extent of their actions so you can present the data to your veterinarian later.

How to Deal with an Anxious Dog

Diagnosis

Before making an official diagnosis, your veterinarian may first want to rule out other underlying causes of their anxiety. Lead poison and brain or thyroid diseases may be the reason why your dog is acting out. A blood test will ultimately confirm or rule out such causes.

Your vet may ask you how your dog reacts when in a calming environment. This question could be a challenge to answer when the dog is anxious a majority of the time. However, that’s actually impossible; there are still times where dogs are calm and collected. For example, try to observe how your pet is acting when he’s lying beside you compared to the times where he grows anxious. This helps you easily single out symptoms of anxiety.

Canine anxiety treatment

Treating canine anxiety is best done by a veterinarian. Professionals in the field can help identify the type of anxiety the dog suffers from, what triggers it, and what you can do about it. Your vet will help you come up with a treatment plan as well. Since there are different causes for anxiety, conditioning, preventive strategies, and even medications may be prescribed to help ease out your dog’s symptoms.

Reducing anxiety at home

Find a place in your home where your dog is most calm. This will become his official “safe haven.” The next time he starts showing signs of anxiety and agitation, lead him to the room and let him stay there until he calms down. While there, you could offer treats in exchange for his ideal behavior. The safe haven should be associated with positive reinforcement rather than a form of punishment.

Exposing him to his fears in moderation is a good way of treating canine anxiety as well. For example, if your dog is afraid of loud sounds, play a CD at a low volume while gradually increasing the sound. Just remember to be cautious to prevent damaging the dog’s hearing, they’re a lot more sensitive to sound than humans.

Don’t let canine anxiety prevent you from living a good life with your dog. With the right care, treatment, and management, you can help your dog overcome his fears and anxiety. So talk to your vet today and start developing a treatment plan that fits both you and your dog’s lifestyle.

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