While your pet doesn’t have that terrible commute or bad days at the office, stress in dogs isn’t unheard of. In fact, stress is common among our canine companions and there are several reasons for this.
You may have noticed that there are changes in your dog’s behavior, from being more clingy or acting out, like digging and chewing. If you suspect your pet is stressed, Leon Valley Veterinary Hospital is here to explain stress in dogs and ways you can decrease their anxiety.
Recognizing Stress in Dogs
Dogs develop stress in several ways.
Some pets who have behavioral and mental health challenges have not been properly socialized and are therefore more susceptible to anxiety and stress. Genetics can also play a role in a pet’s mental health, while others may develop it from external triggers, such as loud noises or being left alone. Trauma is also a common cause of anxiety and stress in dogs.
No matter what the cause, there are generally certain behaviors that accompany stress in dogs.
- Rigid body posture
- Showing the whites of the eyes
- Random barking
- Showing gums
- Digestive upset, like diarrhea and gas
- Licking and chewing at skin
- Muscle tension
- Tucked tail, cowering
- Licking lips
- Barking or yowling
Diagnosis and Treatment
To understand stress in your pup, you must get to know their general cues and demeanor. Some pets are more easily excitable about certain triggers, like strangers or travel. Stress can be just a temporary reaction to an external source, while some pets deal with chronic stress. Get to know your pet’s symptoms and signs when stressed, so you can identify the causes and conditions that precede it.
Speaking with your veterinarian is the first step in diagnosing stress. During the consultation, your pet will be examined for any underlying health condition that may be causing the changes in behavior. After ruling out anything that is a health concern, we will work to determine the causes of stress in your dog and offer recommendations for treatment.
There are several things that can help reduce the fear, including:
- Anti-anxieties and other medications
- Thundershirt, a close-fitting vest that relaxes an anxious pet
- Pheromone sprays and aromatherapy suitable for dogs
- Minimizing exposure to known triggers, such as loud sounds
- Crates and other quiet, secure places where your pet can relax
- Distractions like new toys and treats
- Staying close to your pet, giving them reassurance
If your little one is experiencing stress, we can help. Please phone us for a behavioral consultation and exam, and we can together find the right approach to minimizing stress in your dog.