May 1st to May 7th marks the start of dog anxiety awareness week! For those who don’t know, this is an annual event that aims to educate people on how common and serious dog anxiety can be. It’s also meant to help owners learn more about dog anxiety so that they can better understand their pets and what they need in order to thrive.
Read on as a local vet talks about dog anxiety and signs to watch for.
Causes of Dog Anxiety & Its Effects
Dog anxiety is a common and complex condition that can make a dog’s life miserable, and the owner’s too! It can be caused by a combination of factors, but most often it traces back to an early experience with stress. Many dogs may also develop fears or anxieties as they mature that stem from stressful experiences they’ve had in the past.
If left untreated, dog anxiety can lead to serious health issues including:
- Behavior problems, like biting or barking excessively
- Digestive problems, like diarrhea or vomiting
- Hyperactivity, which may look like excessive energy
Signs of Dog Anxiety to Watch For
If you notice that your dog is experiencing any of the following symptoms, it’s important to take him to see a veterinarian:
- Lack of appetite
- Inability to relax, including pacing and whining (a sign of distress)
- Fear of loud noises (including thunderstorms or fireworks) or being alone in general–this can lead to separation anxiety if left untreated
- Fear of unfamiliar places and people or other dogs
Ways You Can Help Relieve Your Dog’s Anxiety
- Schedule a visit with your veterinarian so she can rule out any underlying medical causes for his behavior.
- Take him for walks in places where he’s likely to see other dogs and people–but don’t overdo it at first; keep the walks short until he becomes accustomed to them
- Give him more attention and exercise. A dog who feels as if he doesn’t get enough attention may become anxious when left alone
- If you have a fenced-in yard, allow your dog to spend time there when he’s feeling anxious
If your dog is showing signs of anxiety, it’s important to get him help as soon as possible. You can start by talking to your vet and learning more about your options for treatment.