Oct 14, 2021

5 Easy Ways to Calm Your Dog's Anxiety

Our four-legged friends can experience anxiety just like we do. And similar to us, excessive levels of stress can lead to undesirable and unhealthy behaviors if left unchecked. 

The good news is that there are plenty of things you can proactively do as a caring dog owner to help your beloved furry pal ease some of its anxiety and fears. 

In this post, you'll learn about the signs and types of anxiety in dogs and ways to help manage their stress and help live their best doggy life!

Signs of Anxiety in your Dog

Knowing the common signs of stress and anxiety can help dog parents figure out what is causing their nervous reactions and the best way to help those responses. Typical anxiety symptoms in dogs include:

  • Excessive barking and howling

  • Excessive whining

  • Aggression

  • Panting and/or drooling excessively

  • Digging or scratching repetitively

  • Depression

  • Excessive Licking

  • Restlessness/Pacing

  • Compulsive or destructive behaviors (i.e., unusual chewing)

  • Using the bathroom in the house

  • Trembling/shaking

What Causes Anxiety in Dogs?

The Merck Veterinary Manual suggests that there are several reasons for dogs to experience distress and anxiety. 

Fear-related anxiety

This type of anxiety can be caused by various fears such as;

  • loud noises (fireworks, thunderstorms, etc.), 

  • strangers (both human and animals)

  • visible stimuli (vacuum, umbrella)

  • new environments

  • specific situations (riding in the car, the vet's office, the groomer's)

  • surfaces (grass, pavement, or wood floors)

Some dogs may have temporary reactions to these, while anxious dogs experience extended, more significant effects. 

Separation anxiety 

An estimated 20%-40% of dogs suffer from separation anxiety, meaning they can't find comfort when left alone or separated from their family. This anxiety often reveals itself in undesirable behaviors, such as bathroom accidents in the house, destroying furniture, and incessant barking.

Age-related anxiety 

Older dogs can suffer from cognitive dysfunction syndrome (CDS). Like humans in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease, memory, learning, perception, and awareness start to decline in dogs with CDS. As a result, CDS  can lead to confusion and anxiety in senior dogs.

How to Calm your Anxious Dog

Exercise Your Dog

While the most obvious way to cure separation anxiety is never to leave your dog alone, that's not a reality for most pet owners. 

Most often, anxiety in dogs causes an abundance of energy. Taking your dog for a long walk or playing fetch with them before you leave can be beneficial to alleviate stress and produce endorphins to help them relax.  

Physical Contact & Massage 

Your touch is probably one of the most soothing things to your anxious pup. It's familiar, safe, and brings them great comfort. Identify your dog's signs of anxiety, and when they start to exhibit them, give them a long petting session, an extended belly rub, or cuddle with them on the couch. 

As humans, massage therapy can help us relax both physically and mentally. Did you know it also works just as well for dogs? A massage can relieve tension in their bodies brought on by anxiety. Start at the neck and work your way down. You might be able to locate the areas where your dog holds the most stress and focus on that particular area. 

Music Therapy

Studies show that music therapy can benefit humans and animals alike. The calming effects of music can help relax your dog at home, in the car, or when you are away from your pet. Music can also alleviate noise sensitivity by blocking outside noises that create anxiety in some dogs.

So, what music should you be playing for your dog? Studies have shown that classical music can help create a state of relaxation, but dogs can grow bored after a few days. Further research shows that reggae and soft rock are actually the best genres for decreasing barking, heart rates, and stress : Alexa, play Bob Marley:

Time-Outs

While anxiety isn't bad behavior, and you should never punish your dog for it, a time-out can help keep them safe and calmer when they're acting out. Isolating your pet in a secure and quiet space can help soothe their nerves. Try adding some soft music and aromatherapy, as well as lowering the lights. 

CBD products for pets 

Some dog owners have reported success in using CBD oil to treat dog anxiety. CBD which stands for Cannabidoill is a natural compound found in the cannabis sativa plant. While research is ongoing, studies seem to indicate the CBD can potentially help both humans and pets with a variety of health issues and enhance overall their wellness and wellbeing, helping to ease stress and anxiety to list one its benefits. 

CBD products are not yet regulated; therefore, if you're considering using CBD oil to treat dog anxiety, it's best to consult with your veterinarian and choose a high-quality product. 

Final thoughts

Anxiety can show itself in multiple ways in dogs, from whining and panting to aggression and barking. When not addressed, a dog's anxiety can lead to unhealthy long-term effects such as becoming withdrawn and losing their appetite. 

Using the tips above can help your dog feel more secure and bring balance to their everyday life. Call your vet if you feel like everything you have tried isn't offering your pup much relief or their symptoms are getting worse. There are some human medications, like Xanax, that a vet can prescribe. 

Here at CareCard, we can help you save money on your medications as well as some medicines for your dog!

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