Like humans, animals too suffer from anxiety, and the symptoms may vary from one to another. If you have pets, like dogs and cats, it will be beneficial to have a basic understanding about the condition, so that you can identify the symptoms and resort to remedial measures.
Signs and Symptoms
- Excessive barking and whining are some of the anxiety symptoms in dogs. The dog may bark and whine, as you leave the house; or on seeing other dogs or neighbors passing by the house.
- Common symptoms of separation anxiety in dogs is defecating and urinating in the house, in your absence. The dog may also avoid food and other activities.
- Anxiety can make the dog destructive in nature. The animal may chew things, and may also start digging and scratching.
- A dog with anxiety may scratch the doors and windows, and may also try to escape from the house. He/she may yawn, lick, pant, and whine. While panting after physical activities is normal, panting at rest could be a symptom of anxiety.
- Certain dogs with anxiety like to spend time alone, while some others seek comfort and assurance from the owner. Depression is one of the common symptoms of anxiety in dogs and the animal may refrain from its regular activities.
- Dogs may crave for attention from the owner, and in their efforts, they may show excessive energy. Once in a while, it is normal, but if it is becomes regular, you have to get your dog diagnosed for anxiety.
- The dog may keep his tail down or in between the legs. Keeping the tail low, and wagging the tip is another symptom of anxiety in canines. He may also keep his ears sideways or backwards.
The symptoms may not be similar for all dogs with this condition, even if the underlying causes are the same. For example, all dogs with separation anxiety may not respond in a similar manner. A dog with thunderstorm phobia may run around, or start chewing, or even defecate or urinate. Dogs with separation anxiety may not have such symptoms.
Diagnosis and Treatment
As most of these symptoms, like barking and whining, come under normal dog behavior, it may happen that they go unnoticed. The difference lies in the fact that a normal dog behavior could be a symptom of anxiety, when it is in excess, untimely, or abnormal. In such cases, you must get your dog diagnosed for anxiety. If the symptoms are persistent, then consult the vet, who is the best person to analyze the condition of the dog.
The treatment for anxiety in dogs is decided on the basis of the underlying causes. If it is a medical condition, treatment is aimed at resolving the same. In case of pet separation anxiety, you have to train your dog by leaving him alone for small periods. The animal will get adjusted gradually. In case of anxiety caused by thunderstorms and other loud noises, develop the tolerance level of your dog by exposing him to the fear factors in small amounts. Make sure to reward the animal, if it does not panic, but stays calm. Petting your animal may also prove beneficial. Essential oils, like lavender oil has a calming effect, and is said to be effective for dogs with anxiety. Herbs, like St. John's wort may also be effective in relieving the symptoms. Proper training and daily exercise may work wonders.
In general, anxiety in dogs is a problem that is found to be mostly behavioral in nature. It can be combated with proper training and antianxiety medication. So, you can remedy this stressful condition in dogs, by detecting and diagnosing it at the early stages itself.
Anxiety is common in dogs, and there are different causes for this condition. While certain diseases and medical conditions can cause anxiety in dogs, separation from the owner is found to be the most common reason. Anxiety can be caused by health problems, like pre-diabetes, hyperthyroidism, encephalitis, and thyrotoxicosis. Even loud noises from thunderstorms and fireworks can trigger anxiety in dogs. Some of the dog breeds are predisposed to anxiety. They include Border Collies, Shelties, and German shepherds. This does not mean that all dogs that belong to these breeds are prone to develop this condition. Anxiety is a problem that can be found in any dog breed, but in some breeds, the condition is more common. It has been observed that anxiety symptoms in dogs may vary with the underlying cause.
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert advice.