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Can Stress Affect Your Dogs Health & Wellbeing?

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It has in recent years been well publicised that stress can have a huge detrimental effect on our health, resulting in physical ailments. Is the same true of our canine family members, how can stress affect your dog?

Do dogs feel stress?

In short yes they do. Stress for a dog is commonly brought about by a change in regular schedule or environment.

Some common causes of stress are as follows:

  • Primary care giver having a new time schedule
  • A lack of quality sleep
  • Rearrangement or remodelling of home
  • Boarding
  • Grooming
  • Visiting a veterinarian
  • A new pet or person in the house.
  • Loud noises like fireworks or thunderstorms.
  • Preexisting health conditions

What is the knock-on effect to dog’s health?

Generally the issue causing the stress is quickly resolved, for example the thunderstorm is short-lived.  Alternatively the dog learns to adapt to the situation, for instance becoming used to a new person in the household. 

However some forms of stress are ongoing, such as separation anxiety. Indeed preexisting health conditions can also stress your dog long term, bringing about further  negative health impacts. An all too commonplace example of this today is arthritis and other bone conditions causing prolonged discomfort to your dog. This has been found to be a major driver in dog anxiety nowadays.

  • Decrease or loss of appetite.This can be particularly dangerous when witnessed in particularly old or young dogs.
  • Decreased immune system.Stress causes the release of the hormone cortisol. With chronic cortisol release  the immune system can become compromised and subsequently your dog may become vulnerable to infection or disease
  • Diarrhoea. When a dog is stressed, they might develop sudden diarrhoea, which in turn can lead to trigger further stress..
  • Behaviour changes.A stressed dog might act differently than she usually does. That could manifest as aggression toward people or other pets, clinginess or aloof behaviour, or increased time spent sleeping.
  • Chewing or ingesting non-food items.Many dogs that are stressed resort to inappropriate chewing or eating of non-edible items.  This can in turn lead to dangerous intestinal obstruction
  • Inappropriate urination. Sudden urination in moments of fear or panic, or chronic urination whereby your dog may constantly urinate in the home can occur. The latter is an attempt generally to mark territory to feel safer in their own environment.
  • Restless sleep pattern. A stressed dog may struggle to shut down during the night time and may bark or whimper throughout the small hours.

How to fight stress in dogs
The first step is always having your dog checked out by a veterinarian. This is in order to rule out any underlying Medical conditions. After these checks, there are some ways you can help your dog manage stress.

  • Increase exercise - extra exercise can work to fight excess cortisol production and hence alleviate many of the negative symptoms of stress. In addition releasing nervous energy can bring  your dog’s body and mind in to better balance.
  • Keep to a schedule - Knowing what is coming next and being able to rely on it is a great stress reliever for dogs, as such they thrive on routine and regularity. So create a schedule of activities and a fixed daily routine and stick to it.
  • Create a quiet space for your dog.
  • Noisy events in and around your home can lead to high levels of anxiety in dogs. Prepare a small room containing everything your dog needs including food, water, a nice, comfy calming dog bed, and some toys.

In general a well-rested dog is a less anxious dog, Bobby beds can serve to offer a perfect night sleep even for dogs that require orthopaedic mattresses to treat ongoing arthritic conditions.

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