Nothing is worse than looking at your dog and seeing them anxious or nervous. Loud noises, fireworks, to separation can trigger anxiety. None of us want to see stressed dogs, so let’s take a deeper look at the causes of excessive anxiety, the symptoms for most dogs, and how we can help them.
Dog Anxiety: The Common Causes
- Separation anxiety
What causes fear-related anxiety in dogs?
This is caused by loud noises like fireworks or builders, strange people or animals, visual stimuli, new or strange environments could be car rides or someone else’s home that the dog has never seen, and specific situations like going to the vets and different surfaces, i.e., grass, wooden flooring or tiling. Some dogs may have different reactions than other dogs. Anxious dogs may be affected more by these things.
What causes separation anxiety in dogs?
Separation anxiety affects 14 percent of dogs. Dogs with separation anxiety find it hard to settle or get comfortable when left alone or separated from their owners or family members. You will recognize if a dog suffers from separation anxiety if they start to urinate in the house, destroy furniture or furnishing, and bark a lot more than often.
What causes age-related anxiety in dogs?
Age-related anxiety affects older dogs. Cognitive dysfunction syndrome (CDS) can be associated with this. In dogs with CDS, their memory, perception, learning, and awareness start to decline this is similar to the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease in humans. This can lead to confusion and anxiety in older dogs.
Dog Anxiety: The Common Symptoms
There are many symptoms of an anxious dog to look out for:
- Urinating or defecating in the house
- Destructive behavior
- Excessive barking
- Repetitive or compulsive behaviors
Some of these symptoms may lead to occasional anxiety-causing events; any of these can be recurrent and cause serious issues. One of the most dangerous symptoms of dog anxiety is aggression. Aggression can be targeted indirectly or directly it depends on the situation. Direct aggression happens when the dog acts aggressively towards people or another animal. Indirect aggression occurs when a person comes between a dog and the source of the dog’s aggression, such as another dog, this can be equally as dangerous. Even if a dog is prevented from harming others, aggressive behavior like growling and barking can lead to unpleasant situations for humans and dogs.
Urinating and defecating in the house is a sign of a dog’s separation anxiety. Anxious dogs work themselves up so much that sometimes they end up peeing or pooping in the house. This can be very frustrating for the pet owners, it can cause damage to the home, and it is very unpleasant to clean up afterward.
Destructive behavior is also a symptom of dog anxiety. The damage is usually done around entry and exit points, i.e., windows and doors. Dogs that have severe anxiety are at risk of harming themselves. If they attempt to break out of windows, dog crates, or doors, it can result in painful injuries and expensive veterinarian treatments for the pet parents to pay for.
More subtle anxiety signs in a dog are:
- Lip licking
- Showing whites of the eyes
- Lifting a paw
- Looking away
These are the more difficult signs to detect, so you must keep a close eye on them being a pet parent to notice if your dog shows these signs of dog anxiety.
The Difference Between Anxiety and Nervousness in Dogs
What is the difference between anxiety and nervousness?
They might sound like synonyms, but in clinical terms, an anxious dog and a nervous dog are two separate things.
Nervousness in dogs is the normal stress a pet will feel when they hear a surprising sound or when their favorite person is getting ready to leave. The stress a nervous dog experiences is temporary and usually goes away within minutes.
Anxiety, on another note, is a more intense reaction to a stress trigger. Anxious episodes tend to last much longer than a few minutes. How your dog reacts to their (could be your absence or a thunderstorm) will be extreme.
If you think of it as human, imagine you’re getting ready for an important meeting or a party where you don’t know everyone. You may feel a little nervous about the situation. Someone with clinically diagnoses anxiety might respond with intense, debilitating symptoms. The difference between dog anxiety and nervousness in dogs is similar.
How to ease your dog’s separation anxiety
Talk to your vet to rule out any medical problems first. Dogs can have accidents in the house because of infections, hormone problems, or other health conditions. It can also be due to incomplete housebreaking.
Treating separation anxiety
If the problem is mild..
- Give your dog a special treat, like a stuffed toy with peanut butter inside, every time you leave the house. Only give the toy whilst you’re gone and take it back when you return
- Ignore your dog for the first few minutes you return home. Keep your comings and goings very discrete.
- Leave a piece of clothing out that smells like you.
- Consider maybe giving your pet over-the-counter calming supplements
If the problem is more serious…
A dog with severe anxiety won’t be distracted even with the tastiest treats. You will slowly need to get them used to your absence. They will start to get nervous when they see signs of you leaving—for example, putting on your shoes and picking up your keys. So you will need to start doing these things and not leaving. Put on your shoes, sit down, pick up your keys, and then watch tv.
Your dog will start to feel less and less anxious about these things, so when they do, slowly start to disappear.
First, you can start by going to the other side of the door and then ask your dog to stay. Then shut an inside door and reappear a few seconds after. Just start to slowly increase the amount of time you’re gone. Put your shoes on, go into another room and ask your dog to stay where they are.
As they get used to the “stay game,” increase the time you’re gone. Then use an outside door but not one you would usually use to go out from.
Only you can tell when your dog is ready to be left alone for longer. Don’t rush things! Once you’ve built up to 10 seconds apart, give them a stuffed treat. Always be calm when you leave and return.
Gradually build the time you leave the house for to a few minutes. Then stay away for longer and longer.
Always make sure your dog gets loads of exercise daily. A tired and happy dog will be less stressed when you leave. It is also key to challenge your dog’s mind. These things relieve stress when you leave because they will be too tired and happy to be stressed or anxious.
What medicine/supplements should I use for dogs who experience anxiety?
There is some evidence that specific probiotics may help reduce a dog’s anxiety—for example, Bifidobacterium longum.
Natural remedies can also be effective if you don’t want to use medicine or probiotics.
Here is a few natural remedies listed below:
- Anti-anxiety clothing
- Massaging and brushing
We will speak in greater detail about some natural remedies.
It is proven that calming supplements can be an effective tool to ease anxiety, fear, and stress. Most effective supplements contain one or more of the following active ingredients:
- Valerian root
Valerian root is good to use if your dog is scared of loud noises or hates to be left alone. This may offer your dog relief.
Melatonin’s sedative qualities is good for calming down and soothing your anxious dog. It improves your pet’s mood and relieves your pet’s anxiety issues.
L-theanine can increase Alpha waves in your dog’s brain, which helps give them a calm and focused mentality.
Chamomile calms uneasy nerves due to anxiety.
CBD can help an anxious dog settle into a happier routine. This is best if you’re looking for a natural option. CBD has become a popular way to calm your dog and deal with anxiety.
Talk to your vet before starting your dog on any supplement program, and always follow the instructions on the back of the label. For a great CBD product, check out our Original Oil 400 mg
Music Therapy to help reduce a dog’s anxiety.
Turning on music or white noise for your dog can help reduce their anxiety and stress. Music therapy helps because sounds are processed by the brain, eliciting an emotional response. Classical music will help relax your dog, unlike rap or hip-hop. The specific tempo to calm a dog’s anxiety is roughly 50-60 beats per minute. White noise helps a dog that is triggered by loud noises.
Wearable ways to help anxiety disorder
There are garments and wraps designed to calm your stressed dogs—these work by applying pressure to the dog’s torso. To help get your dog comfortable in its coat, vest or wrap, put it on when there are calm but not for too long, as that will decrease its effectiveness during times of heightened anxiety.
A calming pheromones collar will help relax your dog on the go. This is useful in-case they get anxious on walks or are exposed to overwhelming situations.
A calming diffuser to decrease stress at home
DAP (dog appeasing pheromone) can help decrease a dog’s stress. DAP is a synthetic pheromone that essentially mimics the one produced by the mother dog.
A treat to take your dog’s mind off of their worries
Treats can help ease the anxiety about new places, surroundings, and sounds. Some treats use casein, tryptophan, or melatonin, while others use amino acids like T-theanine. Take some CBD Oil and add it to their favorite treats.
How to calm a dog with anxiety
There are many ways to calm your dog’s anxiety. Some of these ways have been previously spoken about.
- Exercise your dog
- Physical contact
- Music therapy
- Time out
- Calming coats or vests
- Alternative therapies
Make sure you remove anything that can trigger your dog’s anxiety. Learn what their triggers are.
Keep in contact with your vet if you have any worries or concerns they will help and let you know exactly what you need to do.
How to calm dogs with anxiety : FAQ
Q: How do I calm my dog’s anxiety naturally?
A: Natural treatments for dogs are calming pheromones, CBD, probiotics, an anti-anxiety vest, and music therapy.
Q: How can I calm a dog with storm anxiety?
A: Music or white noise can help hide the loud noise of a storm
Q: How to calm a dog with severe anxiety?
A: Try speaking to your vet to see what’s best for your dog. It may require prescription medication or for a natural alternative, consider Casper’s Oil CBD.