Anxiety is a very common issue. People all around the world struggle with it daily. However, as humans, we often can recognize it and get help for it. But we’re not the only ones that suffer from anxiety. Our pets can also experience nervousness, fear, and worry. Thankfully, our pets have us here to help.
General Signs of Anxiety:
- Panting (even when it’s not hot)
- Urinating and defecating in the home (even if house trained)
Common anxiety issues:
- Separation Anxiety – This is when your dog is afraid to be left alone or separated from their favorite human. They respond to being alone with behavioral problems such as chewing, digging, scratching at doors/windows, howling, barking and crying. They may even soil in strange locations as a result of distress.
- Noise Phobia – There are a lot of dogs that are scared of thunderstorms, vacuums, phones and other noises. Their reactions can range from some pacing and whining to extreme actions that can cause injury from trying to escape. You can help comfort them during a storm or loud event with snuggles or use calm ambient noises like a soft radio to TV.
- General Anxiety Disorder (GAD)– Lastly, some dogs are fearful of more than just being alone or loud noises. Sometimes it seems like everything gives them anxiety. This may be due to prior trauma or it could just be in their genetic make-up. Talk to your vet about the possibility of your pet having generalized anxiety disorder.
Tips on dealing with your pet’s anxiety:
The good news about anxiety is there are things that we can do to help. Whether your dog’s anxiety is triggered by a certain stimulus (such as thunder), by a certain situation (such as being left alone), or they are just generally anxious about everyday, you can help keep them calm.
If your dog’s anxiety is causing major concern, the first thing you’ll want to do is contact your vet. They may recommend putting your dog on medication to help them cope with their anxiety.
Plus, there are other ways you can help ease your pet’s anxiety at home.
- Leave quietly and low-key. Give them an old t-shirt or blanket that smells like you when you have to leave them alone.
- Give them a “safety cue” word that lets them know you’ll be right back. Say something like, “Go night-night, I’ll be back soon” every time you leave and come back. Do this even when running to the mailbox or taking out the trash. That way they know you’ll always come back, even after longer periods of time.
- Use comfort/anxiety jackets. Much like swaddling a baby or using a weighted blanket, the compression helps ease panic and gives comfort.
- Never underestimate the power of snuggles and calm positive talk. Comforting your dog with soothing words, gentle pets and hugs can go a long way in soothing their anxiety.
It can be difficult to watch our pets struggle with fear. Especially when we know that everything is fine and that they are not in danger. However, it can hard for them to understand what we know. Anxiety can be a serious illness, so make sure to reach out to your vet about any and all concerns you have regarding your pet’s mental health.