Understanding Dog Anxiety: Symptoms & Treatment
Just like their human friends, dogs can experience anxiety as well. All breeds can experience dog anxiety but ultimately, it can affect each dog differently. While it’s normal and healthy to experience anxiety occasionally, dogs who experience disproportionate levels of anxiety are more likely to have it turn into a full-blown disorder. If these issues are not tackled early on, this disorder can lead to behavioral issues including aggression, depression and compulsive behaviors.
Not sure if your dog has anxiety? Continue reading to learn more about the common causes, symptoms and treatments for dog anxiety.
Common Causes of Dog Anxiety
According to studies, there are three types of dog anxiety including fear anxiety, separation anxiety, and aging anxiety.
Fear-related anxiety can be triggered by many things, such as loud noises, visual stimuli, new or strange environments, or strange animals and people. Most dogs will have a brief reaction to these factors, but dogs with anxiety will have a longer-lasting reaction.
Separation anxiety is unable to be comfortable when they are separated from their family members or when left alone. This represents itself in disruptive behavior such as barking and destroying furniture.
Age-related anxiety is more often seen in older dogs when their memory, learning and awareness starts to decline.
What are the Symptoms of Dog Anxiety?
If you suspect your dog has anxiety, here are several important symptoms to keep an eye out for:
- Compulsive behavior
- Excessive Barking
- Urinating or defecating in the house
- Destructive behavior
While some of these may be the result of occasional anxiety-causing events, recurrent symptoms should not be ignored. Especially aggression, which can lead to your dog injuring you, themselves or another person. In particular, dog bite injuries not only lead to serious physical injuries, …” but can also cause severe emotional trauma,” according to Omaha dog bite attorney, James W. Knowles Jr.
After reviewing the symptoms, having your dog examined and officially being diagnosed as having dog anxiety, it’s important to come up with a plan to treat their anxiety.
How to Treat a Dog With Anxiety
There are 2 common ways to deal with dog anxiety, including behavior medication techniques and medication. The goal of techniques is to decrease the emotional or aggressive reaction to a specific stimulus.
Desensitization, one of the more common techniques, is the repeated, controlled exposure to the stimulus that usually causes a fearful or anxious response.
Another method called “counter-conditioning” is known as training the dog to replace the fearful or anxiety-induced behavior with positive behavior.
Another option is medication, which will require occasional tests to ensure your dog is processing and eliminating the medications appropriately.
While working with your dog on his or her anxiety can be time-consuming and stressful, it’s also extremely rewarding for your dog and their quality of life. If you have any questions about your dog’s anxiety or detect any symptoms, contact your veterinarian to learn more about what you can do to help.