Dog Stress And Anxiety
From Pet Health Learning Center
Dog Stress & Anxiety
* Canine Social Anxiety * Canine Noise Anxiety * Canine Seperation Anxiety
Signs and Symptoms
Dog stress and anxiety are common and troublesome problems that affect many canines and their owners. Behaviors that result from stress and anxiety can be destructive and difficult for people to deal with, and often get worse rather than better when left untreated. Moreover, your pet will continue to suffer from unneeded misery if its anxiety condition is not properly dealt with. Therefore, in order to ensure comfort and happiness for your dog, it's helpful to be familiar with the signs of canine stress and anxiety so that you will be able to identify a problem early on, allowing it to be dealt with promptly and restoring peace to your dog, your household, and the canine-human relationship.
There are different types of stress and anxiety that affect dogs, and different symptoms and behaviors may be present depending upon the cause of your pet's psychological suffering. Three main types of anxiety that dogs experience are social anxiety, noise anxiety, and separation anxiety.
Social anxiety mostly tends to affect dogs that have not undergone proper socialization as puppies. As a result, this condition is quite common amongst dogs from puppy mills. This type of stress and anxiety occurs because a dog that has not been properly socialized does not know how to behave around other dogs and people. When in the company of other humans or animals, a dog suffering from social anxiety will feel cornered and, therefore, will become aggressive. Thus, aggressive behavior is the main symptom and warning sign of social anxiety.
Noise anxiety, on the other hand, causes a completely different set of symptoms and behaviors. Dogs that suffer from noise anxiety tend to be scared of loud noises such as thunder or firecrackers. Sometimes even deep or loud voices can cause stress for these animals. When dogs are troubled by noise anxiety, they will behave skittishly and often try to run and hide whenever a noise that scares them occurs. Many dogs suffer from this problem, and thunderstorms are one of the most common factors that trigger this anxious response.
The most common type of stress and anxiety problem that affects dogs is separation anxiety. Again, this anxiety disorder gives rise to a different set of symptoms than noise anxiety or social anxiety. With this type of problem, even house trained pets will urinate and defecate inside the house while you are away. Sometimes they will salivate excessively or even vomit. Furthermore, dogs with this condition tend to become destructive while their owner is out of the house. Canines will chew on their paws, household objects, or destroy furniture. They may also exhibit attempts at escaping, including trying to dig, chew, or scratch through walls, doors, and carpets. Howling, pacing, barking, and panting are also common. If you repeatedly come home to find evidence of these behaviors, there is a very good chance that your dog is suffering from separation anxiety.
If you have observed that your dog is displaying signs of any type of stress and anxiety disorder, it's important to consult a veterinarian as soon as possible. Leaving your dog's condition untreated will only make matters worse and prolong your dog's misery and suffering. As result, it's important to keep an eye out for these signs and symptoms and to deal with the underlying problem promptly and appropriately.
Keep in mind too, that Dog Carsickness is also a type of anxiety experienced by dogs.
Dog stress and anxiety disorders are diagnosed on the basis of directly observed or indirectly observed behaviors. For example, with noise anxiety you will likely witness your dog becoming stressed and trying to hide when loud noises occur. With separation anxiety, on the other hand, you may return home to find signs of destruction. In addition, neighbors may complain about barking or howling when you've been away from the home. Describing such behaviors and evidence to a veterinarian or qualified canine behaviorist will help the professional to determine the particular disorder that your pet is suffering from. Once this has occurred, a treatment plan can be implemented and hopefully your dog's suffering will soon be alleviated.
All mammals experience stress, anxiety, and fear at certain times in their lives. While fear is quite well understood as an emotional, physiological, and behavioral response to external threats and dangers, the triggers of anxiety are often less clear. Nonetheless, anxiety involves physiological and behavioral changes in response to stress. Anxiety can have a sudden onset or build up slowly and gradually over time. Anxiety can also last for different periods of times, sometimes lasting for only seconds or minutes and at other times continuing for years. It can also range in intensity, from mild and barely noticeable degrees of anxiety to severe and very disruptive levels.
Certain levels of stress and anxiety are, of course, completely normal and natural. However, when a canine or other mammal's system overreacts or is overwhelmed, a disruptive anxiety disorder may result. In the case of dogs suffering from anxiety disorders, there is generally a particular event or stimulus that triggers the anxiety reaction either when no such response is required or at least not to such a degree as the dog displays. Since continued stress and high levels of anxiety take a toll on an animal's body, a dog with an anxiety disorder that is not quickly and properly dealt with may eventually become physically ill. This is due to the fact that ongoing stress causes physiological dysfunction and impairs the body's ability to resist illnesses and infections that it would normally be able to combat.
Dog stress and anxiety disorders can be caused by a variety of different factors. Breed and genetic factors may predispose some dogs to experiencing overwhelming and disruptive anxiety. Other cases of this type of disorder may arise as result of trauma or improper training. For example, social anxiety is usually caused by a lack of proper socialization. Dogs that do not experience normal and quality contact with humans or other dogs will not know how to behave or interact when finally introduced to such company. This is why puppies from puppy mills that have not been properly cared for and have not had much contact with humans often suffer from social anxiety. When a dog does not know how to react in the company of others, it will become fearful and act aggressively.
There are also many causes and contributing factors with respect to separation anxiety. Rescued strays and dogs who are adopted from animal shelters are particularly prone to developing separation anxiety because of a lack of stability and a fear of abandonment. These dogs are typically lacking in confidence, whether from past mistreatment or improper socialization. Dogs are social creatures and their bonds with humans are very important to them. Therefore, if a dog is used to having its owner around almost constantly and the daily routine is changed so the dog is suddenly left alone much of the time, this can trigger separation anxiety. Other changes that can give rise to this disorder include a change in an owner's work schedule or a change in environment, including moving to a new home. As result, there are many different factors that can contribute to or cause stress and anxiety disorders in dogs, many of which are especially common amongst strays, mistreated canines, and dogs who have lived in animal shelters.
The specific treatment required for stress and anxiety disorders may differ from dog to dog. Moreover, severe cases of these disorders will need to be dealt with by a qualified veterinarian or animal behaviorist. Even in less severe cases, it's always a good idea to consult with a veterinary doctor before trying to implement any course of treatment. However, in many cases, treatment can successfully and effectively be carried out at home by the pet owner.
Most forms of anxiety in dogs will respond well to desensitization. This involves slowly desensitizing your pet by gradually exposing your dog to the stimulus or event that triggers its anxiety. For example, if your dog suffers from social anxiety it's best to slowly introduce other canine or human company, starting with only one other dog or person. In the case of human company, the dog should be allowed to approach the person on its own time and on its own initiative, rather than having the person approach the dog. Do not introduce more dogs or humans until your pet is fully comfortable with the one you have introduced first. Furthermore, it's important to reward good behavior, such as when your pet does not exhibit aggressive behavior in the presence of another dog or person.
Similarly, with separation anxiety it's best to slowly get your pet used to the idea of you leaving the house. When attempting desensitization treatment in such a case, you may have to begin with only opening and shutting the door without actually leaving. This may then be followed by stepping outside the door and immediately reentering, followed by leaving for very short periods of time that will be slowly increased. Each step should be repeated until the dog no longer takes notice of what you're doing. In addition, it's helpful not to make a big deal of your exits from or entrances into the home.
Homeopathic remedies can also be helpful with regards to treating canine stress and anxiety, especially when used in conjunction with behavioral treatments. Homeopathic products are made with natural ingredients that have properties that can help to soothe your pet and reduce its anxious symptoms and behaviors. This, in turn, will reduce your dog's misery and increase its comfort and peace of mind. Natural substances that are beneficial in such circumstances include lemon balm, reishi mushrooms, passionflower, and chamomile. These ingredients help to calm anxious dogs, easing their nervousness and allowing them to relax. Some of these substances also have a relaxing effect upon a canine's muscles, further helping the animal to relax and rest easy. In addition, ingredients such as ginseng increase an animal's resistance to stress and illnesses, thereby allowing your pet to cope with such factors much more successfully. Thus, desensitization therapy and homeopathic remedies are two very effective treatment methods that can be used in cases of dog stress and anxiety disorders.