What can I do for my anxious dog?
By Hungry Bark | September 10, 2020
Anxiety is one of the most common mental health conditions in humans; and the same may be true for our dogs. As many as 75% of all pet parents have reported anxiety-like behavior in their furry friends. In fact, recent studies have shown that anxious dogs, just like anxious humans, do exist and at pretty high numbers. This is a sobering fact.
What can be done to help an anxious dog live the happy and carefree life they deserve? In order to answer that question, we have to understand what anxiety is and how it manifests in our four-legged friends.
Anxious Dog Symptoms
Anxiety is defined as the body's reaction to stressful, dangerous, or unfamiliar situations. It's the sense of uneasiness, distress, or dread you feel before a significant event” by experts like Tanja Jovanovic, PhD.
By this definition, it seems pretty harmless, right? We all get anxious from time to time, and most of us, including our dogs, will rarely experience a time of zero anxiety. However, anxiety conditions occur when this level of unrest persists for extended periods of time or at times when it doesn’t make sense.
If you notice symptoms of anxiety during stressful situations, they are likely perfectly normal. However, if you notice symptoms of anxiety when you wouldn’t expect your pooch to be stressed out, it may be time to talk to your veterinarian.
Common anxiety symptoms in dogs include:
- Unusual frequency of relieving themselves inside the home
- Repetitive behaviors
- Excessive barking
- Destructive behavior
- Unusual activity levels
Remember these are only symptoms if the behaviors are unusual for your pet. If you suspect your pet has anxiety we recommend to contact your veterinarian.
Anxious Dog Home Remedies
As with most conditions and problems, in general, the best place to start is at the source. The cause of the anxiety will determine some of the approaches you try to treat it. The three main causes of anxiety in dogs are:
Fear Based Dog Anxiety
If your dog is suffering from anxiety based in fear, you will need to find the cause of that fear. For example, if your pup has fear based anxiety and they are anxious when meeting other dogs, they likely have a fear of other dogs. You can try building their confidence with other dogs and help to create positive associations. This should lessen the fear and thus, lessen the anxiety.
Separation Based Dog Anxiety
If your dog has separation anxiety, the source of their anxiety is likely you - or more specifically, the lack of you. To treat this, practice leaving your dog more often. You can try leaving for short time periods at first and gradually extending the time away. Building their confidence in being alone will help to reduce their fear of you being gone.
Aging Based Dog Anxiety
If your dog has anxiety specific to aging, the answer may just be more love. As dogs age their brain function declines, sometimes they become anxious simply because they are confused and their memory loss can make them anxious as well. Oftentimes, just extra love and the right supplements can help.
Common home treatments for anxiety in dogs include:
- Positive reinforcement
- Calming products (i.e. Thundershirt) or natural dog supplements
- Confidence building exercises
Calming Supplements For Dogs
There are countless calming supplements for dogs on the market. Hungry Bark’s Chill Chew dog calming supplement for anxious dogs includes chamomile, valerian root, L-Theanine®, and tryptophan. This soothing blend is the perfect way to give them the extra emotional support that they need during a particularly stressful situation.
How To Get Started
Always consult your vet if you feel your dog is suffering from anxiety and would benefit from some sort of therapy. We hope this guide helps improve your pup’s mental health so that both you and your pup can live a stress-free life together!