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Anxiety In Dogs – Symptoms, Treatment & Prevention

Anxiety In Dogs

What Is Anxiety In Dogs?

While anxiety is recognized in humans, most of us don’t know about the anxiety disorders that affect dogs. Dogs have different reasons for getting anxious such as fear of being home alone, abandonment, traveling, loud noises, and being around new people and/or children and/or other pets.

The most common forms of anxiety in dogs are Separation anxiety, phobias, and obsessive-compulsive disorders – especially in breeds that are purposely bred as working dogs and pack mentality dogs. Dogs that have been abandoned in the past and have gone through trauma (such as rescue dogs) are more prone to experience increased abandonment anxiety.

Altogether,75% of all dogs exhibit at least one anxiety-related behavior. Separation and Noise sensitivity is widespread across all breeds. Fear of Fireworks and thunder are the most common sub traits of noise sensitivity. The more the dog gets old, the more sensitive it will be to noise.

Several definitions for anxiety in dogs have been proposed, different authors’ have different interpretations all of them depending on behavior disorders. In general, anxiety is the apprehensive anticipation of a situation or stimulus that the dog perceives as dangerous or unpredictable, developing a responsible behavior towards the situation or stimulus that may or may not occur.

Signs Of Anxiety In Dogs

Anxiety is more complicated than it seems - although it can be one of many symptoms that surface out caused by fear or medical issues or there is also a possibility that it may be an independent condition manifested.

In any case, you should be careful about these symptoms of Anxiety in your dog:

  • Pacing/shaking/ trembling/general restlessness.
  • Drooling, Yawning, or licking excessively.
  • Vocalizations, like howling, barking, and whining.
  • Aggression / Destructive behavior (Chew things up, dig holes, tearing up carpets, etc.)
  • Avoidant behavior (hiding in a crate or corner).
  • Repetitive or compulsive behaviors.
  • More indoor "accidents" even though they are housebroken.

Treatment Options For Anxiety In Dogs

Your vet may recommend diagnostic tests depending on your dog’s health, current symptoms, and medical history.

Depending on the underlying cause, vets may recommend one or a combination of these treatments:

Avoid the triggers

Find out the sources of stress or any anxiety triggers for your dog. When you identify any triggers that you can easily control or avoid, like a motor or loud television, take that step.

Anxiety medications

  • (Alprazolam (Xanax) - Moderate to severe situational anxiety
  • Buspirone - Generalized anxiety
  • Clomipramine (Clomicalm) - Situational anxiety and Separation anxiety
  • Diazepam (Valium) - Situational anxiety
  • Dexmedetomidine (Sileo) - Noise phobias and aversions
  • Fluoxetine (Prozac or Reconcile) - Separation anxiety

Pheromone diffusers and collars

D.A.P. (dog appeasing pheromone) stimulates the olfactory system and can reduce anxiety

- (Adaptil, Thunder Ease, or Comfort Zone)

Home Remedies For Anxiety In Dogs

There are a few things you can try at home to reduce anxiety and good mealtime is a good stress buster for dogs.

Appetize the dog food: stimulate the dog's appetite with attractive foods.

Add chunks of meat such as lamb or chicken help to stimulate their appetite.

Add some warm broth to their food (homemade broth is ideal) and also stimulates the appetite.

Add something more favorable to their food to stimulate eating, although it will depend on the dog’s individual preferences.

How To Prevent Anxiety In Dogs?

There is no way to prevent anxiety or any other behavioral disorder. Inculcating a healthy routine and avoiding the triggers from the start is a good way of prevention.

Amongst the list of problems most dog owners wait to stumble upon, anxiety disorder will be the least expected but it actually affects a shockingly large number of dogs.

In addition, diagnosing anxiety in a dog comes with an added caveat: the tougher part is the identification of the cause whether it is behavioral, environmental, or medical.

Dog Breeds Affected By Anxiety

Labrador Retriever, Chihuahua, German Shorthaired Pointer, Border Collie, Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Jack Russell Terrier, German Shepherd, Australian Shepherd, Bichon Frise, Vizsla, Shetland Sheepdog, Shetland Sheepdog

What Are The Causes Of Dog Anxiety?

1. Causes:

Different type of anxiety has a different type of causes and these includes:

Separation Anxiety

  • Being abandoned/ left alone
  • Major life change
  • Loss of an attachment figure or playmate
  • Change in the family's routine or structure
  • Suffering a traumatic event

Travel Anxiety

  • Riding on a train or bus/ Driving in a car
  • Fear unfamiliar situation
  • Visiting new places

Noise Anxiety

  • Fireworks
  • Ambulance/police/firetrucks
  • Thunderstorms
  • Gunshots bird scarers
  • Other loud or unexpected noises

Confinement Anxiety

  • Inside dog enclosure or kennel
  • Fenced in a yard
  • Trapped in an enclosed space on accident
  • Shut-in a room

2. Types:

  1. Separation anxiety: This can occur when your dog is left alone in the house or separated from loved ones, major life changes such as moving to a new house.
  2. Generalized anxiety: Excessive, exaggerated feeling of anxiety or dread, with no obvious cause or trigger, even in dogs who have been well trained and often appear “out of the blue”.
  3. Environmental anxiety: This is often due to loud noises or situations such as fireworks, thunder, sirens, or alarms.
  4. Social anxiety: This may occur if the dog is not socialized properly. Nervous about being around new people or around other pets.

3. Mortality:

Anxiety is not usually associated with mortality, however, anxieties can lead to behaviour problems, which in turn decrease their health as well as their quality of life and may lead to euthanasia or relinquishment.

4. Diagnosis:

There are no separate lab tests available for dogs. An anxiety diagnosis depends a lot on the owner’s description of the symptoms their dog is experiencing.

5. Prognosis:

Prognosis depends on the diagnosis and appropriate treatment/ behavior/environmental modification.

When To See A Vet If You Find Your Dog Suffers Anxiety?

The prognosis for dogs with anxiety depends upon the specific diagnosis, as well as the dog's health condition at the time of diagnosis.

If the underlying cause of anxiety is diagnosed early and the dog is in relatively good health, effective treatment for the underlying illness will result in a good prognosis.

Sadly, certain anxiety causes that indicate your dog is suffering from a very serious or life-threatening condition (such as cancer, toxins, autoimmune conditions, or severe trauma) have a less favorable prognosis but still, it is manageable.

Diet And Food Suggestions For Anxiety In Dogs

‘SMASH’ steps to find out why your dog is not eating

  1. survey your dog's behavior.
  2. Measure the changes in the dog’s body (teeth, gums, rashes in skin, fur, lumps, or injuries).
  3. Stay attentive to any food issues (bored of the same food, spoiled food, etc).
  4. Secure the environment (house environment, medications, pesticides or other pets, weather changes, etc).
  5. healing actions- Re-examine, routine, and restore.

How to stimulate a dog to eat?

Natural Appetite Stimulants:

Exercise: Take the dog at least for a walk before meals .check out for certain physical ailments that prevent routine exercise.

Herbs: Appetite stimulant ginger, chamomile, peppermint, and celery seed.

Rotisserie chicken: Smells good and it is the secret stimulant that you never dreamed would work. White meat: give the dogs that require a low fat diet.

Pharmaceutical Stimulants:

Mirtazapine, Ghrelin Receptor Agonist.


Create a comfortable space for your pet such as a small area located in a safe area away from doors and fill it with plenty of food, water, treats, and comforting items like familiar toys.

Help the dogs to build a positive association with this private space.  Ensure your dog is getting adequate exercise needs and add enrichment into their environment with Snufflemats, lures, puzzle toys, and other novel toys.

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