If your dog seems overly nervous or fidgety, he or she may very well have an anxiety disorder. While humans generally think of anxiety disorders as something that only affects people, this is not always the case. There are several dog breeds that are more prone to anxiety than others, and there are also several reasons why a dog may have developed the disorder in the first place. There are things that you can give your dog for anxiety, but let’s take a deeper look…
Signs That Your Dog Has an Anxiety Disorder
There are many signs that are good indicators that your dog has an anxiety disorder. Some of these include:
— Tucking their tails
— Urinating or having a bowel movement indoors
— Avoiding eye contact
— Escaping the yard
— Displaced behaviors (shaking off when not wet, sniffing the air, licking lips, etc.)
While your dog may randomly exhibit these behaviors and not have any problems, continuously having episodes or acting in a certain way at specific times may be a clue to a possible disorder. Any of these symptoms, when happening at an extreme rate, is a sign of persistent anxiety and should be evaluated by a veterinarian.
What Causes a Dog to be Anxious?
Just like with people, dogs can become anxious for numerous reasons. However, since they cannot just tell us what is bothering them, sometimes it takes a while to pinpoint what is the source of your pet’s anxiety. By paying extra attention to the times when your dog tenses up and becomes nervous, you can discover what triggers your four-legged friend’s stressors.
In general, there are three types of anxiety in a dog. These are:
— Separation anxiety
— Rescue dog anxiety
— Illness-induced anxiety
Like children, some dogs get anxious when their caregiver is not home or when they are left alone for long periods. This is known as separation anxiety. If your dog is calm when you are there but becomes destructive, barks, whines, or goes to the bathroom on the carpets when you leave, this could be the result of seperation anxiety.
Dogs are naturally social creatures. When they get bored or get lonely, they can quickly become anxious, worrying about when you will be back home to play with them and keep them company. As a dog ages, they may tend to suffer from separation anxiety due to memory deficiencies.
To help get your dog through these scary times of being home alone, you can take them for a walk before you leave or give them a favorite toy. Some dogs like to have noise in the home. Turning on the radio or television for them is often a helpful technique, especially if you do these things when you are home.
When dogs were removed from a traumatic environment or spend a long time in a shelter, they can develop rescue anxiety. Fears of abandonment and abuse can plague a rescue dog for years.
Some dogs will eventually overcome their anxiety when they realize that they are in a loving home and will not be left alone or abused by someone ever again.
Other dogs don’t ever get over their anxiety and do best when they are in a consistent and predictable environment. Routines are best, as you can help your dog understand that they won’t be abandoned again and that they can rely on you to keep them safe. A pet trainer or behaviorist can also help to establish and overcome triggers.
Certain conditions can cause illness-induced anxiety. Common conditions include:
— Thyrotoxicosis, or Grave’s Disease
— Hearing or vision loss
Can My Dog Have Generalized Anxiety Disorder?
Some dogs don’t always have a reason to be anxious; they just are. This is known as generalized anxiety disorder. Some dog breeds are more prone to anxiety disorders, and others, like people, are just anxious animals.
Dog breeds that are the most prone to generalized anxiety disorder include:
— German Shepards
— Labrador Retrievers
— Cocker Spaniels
— Border Collies
The best way to help a dog with generalized anxiety disorder include maintaining a low-stimulating environment, controlling social interactions, and keeping your dog on a consistent schedule.