Anxiety in Dogs
As loving pet owners, we want our canine companions to live happy and stress-free lives. However, like humans, dogs can experience anxiety, a condition that affects their emotional well-being and overall health.
Identifying the signs and symptoms of anxiety in dogs is crucial for early intervention and effective treatment. In this comprehensive post we will help you identify the common signs of anxiety in your own dog through questions designed to help you recognize anxious behaviors in your pup.
In addition, we’ll explore the impact anxiety has on your dog’s behavior and health and conclude with various treatment options–with a special focus on CBD therapy as a promising approach for dogs with anxiety.
Does My Dog Have Anxiety Quiz:
13 Questions to Determine if Your Dog is Experiencing Anxiety
Compiled Results: 2-6 YES answers = Mild Anxiety / 6-10 YES answers = Moderate anxiety / 10-13 YES answers = Severe anxiety.
Remember that these questions are not a definitive diagnosis but can help you identify potential signs of anxiety in your dog. If you suspect your dog has anxiety, it’s essential to consult a veterinarian or professional dog behaviorist for a proper assessment and guidance.
Signs, Symptoms and Treatment for Dogs with Anxiety
Dogs, like humans, can experience anxiety. However, since dogs cannot verbalize their feelings, it can be challenging to know when they are feeling anxious.
As a dog owner, it is essential to recognize the signs and symptoms of anxiety in dogs to help them feel safe and comfortable in their environment. Let’s look closer at the signs, symptoms, and treatment for dogs with anxiety, including CBD as one of the most effective natural therapies for dogs with anxiety.
Identifying 3 Types of Anxiety in Dogs
Anxiety in dogs can be broken down into three types: Fear, Phobia and General Anxiety.
It’s essential to be able to distinguish between normal and anxious dog behaviors, which requires familiarity with your dog’s normal daily behavior. So, let’s take a broad look at the different types & causes of potential anxiety in dogs.
1). Fear Anxiety
Fear is a response to a specific stimulus, such as a loud noise or a stranger. Although some dogs may only have brief reactions to stimuli like car rides or visits to the vet, they may affect overly anxious dogs more consequentially.
Phobias are an extreme fear of a particular stimulus, such as thunderstorms or fireworks. This anxiety often manifests itself in undesirable behaviors, such as escape behavior, hiding in safe areas or destroying furniture and furnishings, and non-stop barking.
3). General Anxiety
Anxiety is a more generalized feeling of unease or nervousness that can be caused by a wide range of factors.
Most notably, Age-related anxiety falls into this category as it affects older dogs and can be associated with cognitive dysfunction syndrome (CDS). In dogs with CDS, memory, learning, perception, and awareness start to decline, similar to the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease in humans. This understandably leads to confusion and disorientation, leading to even more anxiety in senior dogs.
Common Signs of Mild Anxiety in Dogs
Anxiety can significantly impact a dog’s behavior. They may become clingy and follow their owners around, seeking reassurance and safety. Conversely, some dogs may withdraw and avoid interactions, becoming more isolated…leading to more anxiety!
In some cases, anxiety can manifest as aggressive behavior, especially when the dog feels threatened or cornered. Aggression is often a defense mechanism against perceived threats.
Anxious dogs may experience digestive problems, such as vomiting, diarrhea, or loss of appetite. Stress can disrupt their gastrointestinal tract, leading to gastrointestinal upset.
Compromised Immune System
Prolonged anxiety can weaken a dog’s immune system, making them more susceptible to infections and illnesses. Chronic stress can hinder the body’s ability to fight off diseases effectively.
Symptoms of Moderate Level Anxiety in Dogs
In addition to the above MINOR symptoms, MODERATE signs of anxiety in dogs also include:
Excessive Barking and Whining
An anxious dog may resort to excessive barking or whining, often without apparent reasons. They may vocalize their distress when faced with unfamiliar people, places, or experiences. Symptoms of moderate separation anxiety are included in this level of distress.
Restlessness and Pacing
Restlessness and repetitive pacing are common signs of anxiety in dogs. They may have difficulty settling down, even in familiar environments.
Anxious dogs may exhibit destructive behavior, such as chewing on furniture, shoes, or household objects. This behavior often occurs when the dog is left alone, seeking comfort or relief from their anxiety.
Excessive Licking or Grooming
Dogs with anxiety may excessively lick or groom themselves, leading to skin irritation, hair loss, or hot spots. This compulsive behavior can be a coping mechanism for their emotional distress.
Signs of More Severe Anxiety Behavior in Dogs
In addition to MILD & MODERATE signs of anxiety in dogs, SEVERE anxiety also can include:
- Increased Vigilance & Pacing Behaviors
- Restlessness & Extreme Escape Behaviors (destruction of entryways and windows)
- Compulsive Grooming Behavior (scratching to the point of causing open sores or ‘hot-spots’)
- Changes in Sleep Patterns (can also include age related dementia)
- Urinating or Defecating Indoors
- Longterm Unresolved Depression
It is important to note that a dog does not have to display all of these symptoms, nor does the appearance of some of these indicate actual anxiety. Dogs can encounter situations that elicit valid responses of fear, anxiety, and so on. These are just the more common signs that can clue you into something that needs to be checked out.
Treatment for Dogs with Anxiety
If you suspect that your dog has anxiety, it is best to consult with your veterinarian. They can help you identify the type of anxiety your dog is experiencing and the possible causes and triggers.
Veterinarians can also rule out any other medical conditions that could be causing your dog’s symptoms. Additionally, veterinarians can provide options such as behavior modification or medication and can help determine if there is an underlying health issue.
- Behavior modification is a type of training that helps dogs learn to cope with their anxiety triggers. It involves gradually exposing the dog to the stimulus that causes anxiety, starting with a low level of exposure and gradually increasing it over time. This process helps the dog learn to associate the stimulus with positive experiences, reducing their anxiety over time.
- Anti-anxiety medication is another option for treating anxiety in dogs. Anti-anxiety medications can help reduce the severity of the dog’s anxiety symptoms, making it easier for them to cope with their triggers. However, medication should only be used under the guidance of a veterinarian, as some medications can have side effects or interact with other medications.
Traditional Anxiety Medications for Dogs
If your dog develops a serious anxiety disorder, your veterinarian may recommend medications or natural therapies. Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) and anti-depressants are occasionally prescribed for dogs with anxiety, including fluoxetine and clomipramine.
For predictable anxiety-producing events like thunderstorms, fireworks, or car rides, your veterinarian might prescribe a medication such as benzodiazepine in conjunction with an antidepressant to help your dog cope with the stress.
Senior dogs with cognitive dysfunction syndrome may benefit from the drug selegiline, which can help reduce some of the symptoms of CDS. Selegiline is also used for treating chronic anxiety in Europe.
These prescription medications come with their own warnings and side-effects. So, for pet owners who are looking for a more ‘natural’ approach to treating their dog’s anxiety, the recent inclusion of all-natural CBD from hemp is now a viable option.
CBD is an Effective Natural Care for Dogs with Anxiety
CBD, or cannabidiol, is a compound found in the cannabis plant. It is non-psychoactive, meaning it does not produce the “high” associated with marijuana use.
CBD has been shown to have a calming effect on the body and may be an effective therapy for dogs with anxiety.
CBD works by interacting with the body’s endocannabinoid system, which helps regulate various bodily functions, including mood and stress response. CBD can help reduce anxiety by increasing the levels of serotonin in the brain, which is a neurotransmitter that regulates mood and social behavior.
All dogs need basic nutritional support to grow into healthy, happy adult dogs. All-natural, full-spectrum organic hemp oil containing CBD provides essential health benefits for dogs of all ages and is especially important for dogs having a difficult time “adapting to life changes”, such as a new living situation (e.g., re-homing, divorce, loss of kennel mate or death of a pet parent) or just need support for short-term environmental stressors like loud fireworks.
CBD is available in various forms, including oils, treats, and capsules. It is essential to choose a high-quality CBD product that is specifically formulated for dogs and has been third-party tested for purity and potency.
Compassion & Care for Dogs with Anxiety
Anxiety in dogs is a serious problem that should not be taken lightly. If left unchecked, it can lead to more severe issues like aggression, destructive behaviors, other behavior problems, and overall physical and emotional health problems.
As a dog owner, it is essential to recognize the signs and symptoms of anxiety in dogs [TAKE THE QUIZ] and seek treatment from a veterinarian if necessary. Behavior modification, medication, and CBD are all effective therapies for dogs with anxiety, but it is crucial to work with a veterinarian to determine the best course of treatment for your dog’s specific needs.
Curtis has been passionate about the health and welfare of animals since his first dog rescue.
After studying Sports Medicine & Biology at the University of Oregon, Curtis went on to excel in a career of Clinical Nutrition, later owning a health care supplement company serving private-practice physicians.
Known for his expansive knowledge of natural health and alternative medicine, Curtis believes that natural plant-based therapies can be applied to veterinary animal care which led him to study the science of Cannabinoid Medicine. His expertise in Functional Medicine led him to formulate a unique hemp-based canine care product, Canine Support Formula, fulfilling a dream to combine natural pet-care strategies with the new therapeutic potential of medical cannabis.
In reverence for his own dog, Parker, Curtis has dedicated his company–K9 Medibles–to improving the health and longevity of all dogs.
To learn more about Curtis and how K9 Medibles can help your dog, click HERE.