Does your dog whimper and bark when you leave the house? Do they become fearful when new people arrive at your door? Is there a certain sound or action that makes them panic? These are all signs that your dog may suffer from anxiety. The answer to why dogs suffer from anxiety isn’t as straight forward as you might think. For some dogs it may be a trigger or a stimulus while for some dogs their anxiety might be attributed to their breed. Other dogs might be picking up on your own anxiety or stress and feeling it themselves. It’s important to be able to identify this early, use anxiety aids and ideally over time improve their overall wellbeing and happiness.
How do I know if my dog has anxiety?
Not all dogs display the same symptoms, in fact in a lot of cases it can be really hard to detect. So what are the symptoms?
- No control over bowel or bladder movements.
- Your dog may start to wet themselves or experience diarrhoea
- Increased licking and biting.
- Your dog might be licking themselves excessively or nibbling and biting their legs or paws.
- Increased barking or growling
- Whimpering, whining, barking, howling or growling.
This is simply a short list of the most common symptoms. Many dogs and cats struggle with anxiety in different ways. If you suspect your pet is suffering from anxiety, but displays different symptoms or behaviours then it’s important you do some research and take them to the vet for professional advice.
What breeds are prone to anxiety?
Some breeds by nature will be a little more susceptible to becoming anxious. Here's a list of those breeds.
- Bernese Mountain Dog
- Border Collie
- Standard Poodle
- German Shepherd
- Australian Shepherd
- Jack Russell Terrier
- Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
- Bichon Frise
- Cocker Spaniel
Ever wonder what your dog's breed was introduced for? Every breed has a purpose, and the reason for their anxiety may be attributed to this.
What is the best way to treat my dog’s anxiety, what products can I use?
As always it is important that you seek the advice of a veterinarian. Your dog may be showing symptoms of anxiety, but the same symptoms may be pointing to something more critical. If your dog is suffering from anxiety then rest assured, there are plenty of products that can provide relief and calm your pet.
Thundershirts are one of the more popular solutions to easing anxiety in dogs. They’re easy to put on, similar to a vest or harness. Ideal in situations where there might be fireworks, large crowds or thunderstorms, the Thundershirt applies pressure to your dog’s body to make them feel comforted and less anxious. Safe to use, but only for short periods of time as it isn’t comfortable to wear over a prolonged amount of time.
Calm by Natural Animal Solutions
Similar to Rescue Remedy, a popular remedy among humans, Natural Animal Solutions calm is made specifically for pets. Calm uses natural calming ingredients and can be added to their water, food or even administered directly using the little pipette lid. Many pet owners use Calm to combat travel anxiety but in reality it can be used for many different stressful situations.
Calmz is a brand new anxiety relief system that uses therapeutic music and vibrations to ease your dog’s anxiety. Your dog has a number of acupressure spots on their body which, when pressure is applied your dog will experience a sense of comfort and relief. Calmz works to relax your dog by using these acupressure spots and restoring proper blood flow to the brain. Depending on how stressed or uneasy your dog is, you can set the programs on the Calmz device to settle your pet quickly or over a longer period of time.
Heart Beat Sheep & Warm Bear
These products are ideal for puppies and pets suffering from separation anxiety. The Heart Beat Sheep softly vibrates intermittently, giving the impression that they aren’t alone. Warm Bear serves a similar purpose, but by using warmth and heat. Use these toys when your pet is sleeping or when they’re alone so they can feel more comfortable and not alone.
Keep calm and be calm yourself!
Yes, these products will assist in keeping your dog settled and relaxed however they won’t be effective unless you keep them settled yourself. Gentle pats and a quiet environment will assist in helping them return to normal sooner. Oftentimes your pets will pick up on your own stress. In fact studies have shown that animals detect stress in humans. It’s natural for us to bring home stress from our daily life, so it’s natural for your pets to pick up on that too. Prepare ahead of time when you know about public events or seasonal celebrations that involve big crowds, loud music or fireworks then arrange to be in a quieter place and have these products ready to go. Same thing goes for the weather when thunderstorms are forecasted. Make arrangements to be somewhere out of the elements and be close to your dog.
Take them to the vet!
We say this all the time – but it’s the most important message you can take away from this article! Some of these symptoms are not exclusive to anxiety, in fact they might actually be symptoms for something a little more severe. These products are not designed to cure anxiety – they will work to calm your pet, however there will always be environmental factors that can trigger their anxiety like thunderstorms or fireworks. As a responsible pet owner it’s good to know how you can help them calm down in times of amplified stress.