Dogs Have Anxiety Too — Here Are Ways to Help
Even a pampered pet can have anxiety.
Your pampered pet shouldn’t have a care in the world. You wait on them hand and foot, feed them, bathe them, take them on long sniff-filled walks, play with them, and let them sleep the day away on their bed or even yours. Despite their seemingly coddled existence, some dogs do suffer from anxiety.
There are dogs who have moments of anxiety due to fireworks or thunderstorms. Some dogs are so attached to their human friends that they suffer from separation anxiety. When their favorite person leaves them alone, the pups go into a panic mode. Other dogs, particularly those rescued from bad or traumatic situations, can be prone to anxiety particularly in noisy or chaotic environments. Even dogs that are normally quite mild mannered can get stressed out in new situations filled with new people. The result is stress and anxious behavior, which can look like panting, pacing, shivering, hiding, digging, barking, or worse—excessively licking or chewing themselves, using the bathroom indoors, trying to run away, or eating your furniture.
If your dog seems stressed or is exhibiting anxious behavior, first look to their environment. Is there something that could be causing temporary stress like a loud noise like fireworks, storms, or, say, a six-year old’s birthday party. If your dog is a nervous wreck after the storm or noise dissipates, it may be time to talk to a vet.
“One first looks at the pet from a medical perspective to ensure that the anxiety is not secondary to an occult health problem,” says Dr. Marc Elie, DACVIM, a veterinarian and specialist in internal medicine told Southern Living. “If the medical assessment is normal, then consultation with a veterinary behaviorist and employment of anti-anxiety medications should ensue.” According to Elie, options for anxiety-reducing medications, but it’s important to talk to your vet for proper dosing for your dog.
In addition to anti-anxiety medication, your dog’s stress and anxiety may be relieved through the process of desensitization (repeated, controlled exposure at low intensity) and counter-conditioning (teaching positive behavior in place of anxiety-producing ones). Talk to your vet or dog trainer to help come up with a treatment plan that will get your pup back on track to enjoying its pampered life.