This world can be a bit nerve-wracking at times. Things have seemingly gotten a bit more complicated. With immediate responses being required and our phones and other mobile devices dinging and binging all day long. It’s enough to make one generally, well, anxious. Same can be true for our dogs. But do dogs with anxiety have the same symptoms as people with anxiety?
Great Question! Let’s Take a Closer Look
First, let’s discuss anxiety. We all seem to have moments of anxiety, and therefore inherently understand what it is. But let’s make sure. In the simplest of terms:
Anxiety is an intense, excessive, and persistent worry and fear about everyday situations or things you can’t control. Anxiety can manifest into a rapid heart rate, shallow breathing, sweating, trembling, and in some, a tired feeling may occur (source).
It’s somewhat obvious why a human can suffer from anxiety, but a dog? It’s challenging for some people to believe that the fuzzy creature in their home who sleeps 16 hours a day is anxious. Dogs with anxiety are often hard to spot as it doesn’t have a lot of external symptoms. Anxiety is mostly internal. And it’s real. Even for dogs.
What Do Dogs Have To Feel Anxious About?
Another great question. To answer this it’s important to understand what is the root cause of anxiety. Simply put, researchers do not yet know. But they do know that there are several varying combinations of factors that come into play with anxiety. These include neurobiological, genetic markers, environmental factors, and life experiences. In a nutshell, anxiety seems to be genetic, environmental or caused by an experience.
Knowing this, now it’s easy to understand that yes, a dog can be anxious. Either passed down through genes in some manner, or raised in a stressful household of some sort, or through the association of a bad experience. Like loud or angry noises… Or even worse. Unfortunately, traumatic or physically or mentally jarring experiences can leave a dog anxious. But, what makes one dog anxious may not have the same effect on another dog. Just like humans.
When Might A Dog Feel Anxious?
If a dog has experienced abandonment, say being given up for adoption from the only family he or she has ever known, then anxiety is very likely. Depending on a dog’s coping mechanism and resiliency, one dog may bounce back sooner than another dog. This is a fairly typical anxiety-riddled time for dogs. But there are others:
- Veterinary Trips
- Grooming or Baths
- Car Rides
- Thunder Storms
- Ticking Noises
- Loud Voices
- Certain Tones
- Loss or Potential Loss of a Mate or Family Member
There are almost just as many potential reasons for a dog, or a human, to be anxious as there are stars in the sky. Every dog is unique.
What Symptoms Do Dogs With Anxiety Have?
As we said earlier, some symptoms are internal and harder to notice. So, it’s important to pay attention to your dog as you’re getting to know one another. But, there are some outward signs that dogs with anxiety may give off. These include:
- Trembling and Shaking
- Spontaneous Peeing
- Increased Presence
- Hiding or Nesting
- Refusal to Eat
Do Dogs With Anxiety Have The Same Symptoms As People With Anxiety?
In many cases, yes, dogs do show the same symptoms as people with anxiety. While some of the symptoms of an anxious dog can be easily noticed, some are harder to gauge. This is also true of humans. When a dog has an increased presence it could be due to any number of things, like food. But when a dog constantly rubs up against you or must have your attention, there’s likely an underlying anxiety-driven reason. This is also true for nesting. We may think our dog is ‘just sleeping,’ when in reality, he or she is ‘shutting down’ in a desire to manage the anxious feelings.
What Can You Do To Help An Anxious Dog?
Fortunately, in this day and age, there is a lot of help available for dogs with anxiety. If anxiety has your dog in its’ grip and it leaves your dog less than enthusiastic about daily activities there are things you can do.
Remove The Bad Thing
First and foremost, if possible try to identify what is causing your dog anxiety. Does your dog shake when your phone rings? Set it to vibrate. Perhaps your dog’s anxiety is caused by when you drive over rumble strips in the road. If this is the case, be cautious when driving with your dog in the car. Do big, rambunctious, booming voices send your dog into hiding? Remind everyone how important it is to use ‘inside voices’ around your dog. Our dogs give us unconditional love, so it is the least we can do.
But What If You Can’t Remove The Bad Thing?
Just like in human life, in a dog’s life there are times you can’t remove every single thing that creates anxiety for him or her. It’s life after all. But, that doesn’t mean anxiety is something that your dog will ‘just have to live with.’ There are quite a few options available, and none are mutually exclusive to the others. These include:
CBD has been scientifically shown to help alleviate anxiety (source). We recommend a treatment plan that includes a daily dose of full-spectrum, organic, CBD tincture accompanied by CBD-infused treats as needed.
This can include desensitization or counterconditioning, and distraction coupled with redirection. Behavior modification is typically done with professional assistance, and treats are used for counterconditioning.
These vary and it depends on the needs of dogs with anxiety. Remember, not all dogs are alike. A good example of a helpful adjunct therapy is a compression shirt that fits snuggly and makes a dog feel more secure.
Recalling that a dog’s anxiety can be genetic, it can also be related to aging. Loss of eyesight or hearing can confuse a dog, bringing on anxiety. Regardless, it’s always a good idea to have lab work performed and to discuss your dog’s anxiety with a vet.
Every Paw Could Use A Little Help
Whether or not anxiety is something your dog is born with or develops, it’s good to know that there are options. Dogs with anxiety are just like people with anxiety, and offering a little understanding and compassion can go a long way. Honestly, with the availability of CBD, no dog should have to suffer anymore. If you have a dog with anxiety we hope this article is a helpful resource. We want your dog to focus on the fun things and not the things that shake, rattle, and roll.