Raising Awareness About Dog Anxiety: How to Alleviate Stress in Your Dog
May 2-8 is Dog Anxiety Awareness Week and the team at Blue Valley Animal Hospital wants to help spread awareness on this common condition. Dogs are reactive to many stimuli in the environment, and they react to it in ways that sometimes can become a phobia or anxiety.
The difference between the occasional bout of doggie fear verses full-blown anxiety can be subtle. We want to help you recognize the signs of anxiety so you can help your dog feel his or her best.
Anxiety in Dogs
Anxiety in dogs can result in a wide-array of symptoms, like whining and chewing. Other symptoms of anxiety are trembling, aggression, accidents, destructive behavior, and clinginess. The level of anxiety is based on whether or not it is an acute situation, as a reaction to fireworks, or something more chronic, like separation anxiety.
These are the most common causes of anxiety:
- Noise anxiety from fireworks, thunderstorms, or sirens
- Separation anxiety
- Anxiety due to change in residence
- Anxiety due to an introduction of a new baby, pet, or other family member
- Fear about strange people or other animals
- Trauma or abuse in their background
Proven Ways to Reduce Dog Anxiety and Fear
First off, ask your veterinarian about your pet’s level of anxiety. They can provide a thorough examination and behavioral consultation to rule out anything chronic or health related. Other helpful things you can do is to:
- Exercise your pet—Dogs that are prone to anxiety often don’t get the needed energy release through daily movement, play, and exercise. Aim for at least 30 minutes of walking or exercise for them each day.
- Give them more affection—Simply stroking your pet when they are anxious can release natural endorphins that will diminish some anxiety. Long petting sessions and other forms of affection reduce stress in a four-legged friend (and it can also help you, too).
- Use a thundershirt—This snuggly designed vests compress the torso and give your pet a sense of safety and security. Weighted blankets work on humans, too, for the same reason. If your pet has separation or noise anxiety triggers, invest in a compression vest or Thundershirt for help.
- Use music as therapy—Music has been a longstanding way to ease the soul. Over the past few decades, there have been a number of dog anti-anxiety compositions and relaxing compilations released to help pups with anxiety disorders.
- Schedule a timeout for pups—When your pet is stressed, put them into a secure and quiet space that is easy for them to relax in. This may be a crate, extra bedroom, or other quiet zone until they can calm down. You can place toys, treats, and other fun things in the crate or room.
- Use supplements and stress relief sprays—There are some stress release remedies on the market that come in pill form, treats, or sprays. These calming treats and sprays are effective for many dogs with anxiety.
If you would like more information on how to treat dog anxiety and fear, please call us at (913) 681‑2818 or make an online appointment request.