One of the reasons we love dogs is because their boundless enthusiasm makes us feel like we could take on anything that life could throw at us. Sometimes our dogs exhibit behaviour that seems out of character, and there may be a serious reason for that. If your dog makes a habit of hiding, avoids eye contact, or barks excessively, it may have an anxiety disorder. The good news is that it’s treatable.
Feeling like you’re in the grip of anxiety can be a dreadful, debilitating experience, and, sadly, it’s not limited to people. Dogs can develop anxiety disorders for different reasons. Whatever they are, our animals cannot tell us that there’s a problem or describe what it is.
Apart from general anxiety, our furry friends can develop:
- separation anxiety
- illness-induced anxiety
- former rescue/shelter dog anxiety
If your animal displays several of the signs associated with anxiety, pay careful attention to its body language. If you observe that he or she looks nervous, see if you can find out what is causing their anxious response.
Find out about the signs of anxiety in dogs, as well as tips on how to treat it below.
Signs Of Anxiety
The following are signs of general anxiety in dogs. It’s normal for dogs to show one of them every now and again. However, if your animal shows more than one frequently or all the time, it probably indicates an anxiety disorder:
- Tail tucked between legs
- Avoiding eye contact
- Whimpering or whining
- Excessive licking
- Destructive habits such as ripping up cushions
- Excessive yawning
- Dilated pupils
- Spontaneous bowel movement or urination
Anxiety in dogs may be related to illness. The following pointers include symptoms that, if exhibited alongside signs of general anxiety, your pet may be ill. If you suspect any of the following illnesses, contact your veterinary doctor.
- Encephalitis: Anxiety may be related to inflammation of brain tissue. Check for symptoms such as aggression, clumsy walk, coma, and seizures.
- Hypothyroidism: A thyroid gland that produces less than sufficient hormones can be a cause of anxiety in dogs. Check for symptoms such as loss of fur, lethargy and weight gain.
- Pre-diabetes: If pre-diabetes are causing your dog’s anxiety, it may develop symptoms such as cataracts in the eyes, excessive thirst or gaining weight.
Do not attempt to treat any of these illnesses yourself. They require medical attention from a qualified vet.
Separation Anxiety In Dogs
Some dogs develop separation anxiety when their primary caregiver is not around. If your dog does the following, whether you’re away for 5 minutes or 5 hours, it may have separation anxiety:
- Barks or howls excessively
- Destroys furniture, cushions, clothing, shoes, books, or anything else
- Urinates or defecates in the house
This form of anxiety is relatively common in dogs, especially if they are the only dog at home. They are social animals, and boredom and loneliness can make them anxious. The following tips may help you to help your animal:
- Don’t overexcite your dog when you arrive at or leave home
- Give your dog toys to keep them occupied
- Take your dog for a walk before leaving home
- Consider giving it a calming treat that contains cannabis-derived CBD oil for dogs
Former Rescue/Shelter Dog Anxiety
Dogs often end up at shelters because their former owners abandoned them there. Some may have been dumped or ended up strays, which may have exposed them to traumatic events.
The conditions of how they arrived at the shelter, and of the shelter itself, may lead a dog to develop anxiety. This condition may worsen after it’s been adopted and taken to its new home. The following may help if you suspect your animal has former shelter dog anxiety:
- Speak to an animal behaviourist or trainer who can make recommendations for dealing with your dog.
- Make sure your home environment is consistent and predictable so that your dog feels safe.
- Develop a consistent routine, in a way that your dog is aware of.
It’s never nice to see our animals anxious or in distress. If the changes you make or the treatments you try at home don’t work, contact your vet for advice.