Why is My Dog Anxious All of a Sudden?
A Brief Introduction to Dog Emotions
Your dog is capable of experiencing and showing a wide range of emotions, be it positive such as huge excitement when you grab the leash prior to a walk.
Or happy when we feed them a snack, or negative such as displaying fear during a confrontational situation.
Most of these emotions tend to make sense to us as dog owners. However, great worry comes to us as dog owners when we see our dogs becoming anxious all of a sudden.
Sometimes there are signs of anxiety, but sometimes this dog anxiety simply seems to come from nowhere.
But there is always a reason behind the anxiety, and pinpointing this reason can be key to finding a cure and managing the situation.
To try and understand why your dog's behavior is becoming more anxious, the following will take a general look at anxiety in dogs, the causes, symptoms, and treatments to try and minimize future stresses.
NOTE - It can affect dog's of any age from puppies to adult dogs.
Symptoms of Anxiety in Pet Dogs
Dogs don't have the same inhibitions as us humans in social situations, therefore their anxiety is more likely to display itself more visually.
When we see a dog is nervous it isn't uncommon for them to shake or shiver.
You might also find this post about how to calm an anxious dog.
This negative body language is a sure sign of anxiety in dogs. As to is the habit to avoid eye contact. Some specific symptoms of anxiety in dogs follow:
- Shaking and shivering
- Difficulty sleeping
- Whining and whimpering
- Reduced activity
- Loss of appetite
- Lack of eye contact
- Tense body posture
- Inappropriate urination e.g indoors
- Destructive tendencies
- Negative body language
- Self mutilation (chewing their paws, etc)
What is Generalized Anxiety Disorder in Dogs?
The acuteness of the cause of dog anxiety has a great bearing on the variety and intensity of the symptoms.
Whilst stress symptoms are related to anxiety when the stressful situation is over generally so is the feeling of stress.
When referring to anxiety in dogs we mean the chronic ongoing anxiety that can affect our dog's well-being with sometimes unapparent causes.
Anxiety in dogs is termed as acute fearfulness, this is backed up by the Journal of Veterinary Behavior.
The Journal states that fear is an emotion that is needed for survival but when prolonged and frequent it causes suffering in dogs.
Panic Attacks in Dogs
It is certainly possible for canines to have panic attacks.
Normally associated with humans, a panic attack in canines is similar to an acute bout of generalized anxiety.
If suffering from severe dog anxiety, your pet dog may urinate themselves and become very vocal.
In this moment of fear it is important to try and calm your dog, but also be aware as dogs at this moment can lash out with aggression.
The Various Causes of Canine Anxiety
Separation Anxiety - Some pet dogs can have an unhealthy attachment to their owner potentially developed as a pup, you may wish to enlist the help of a dog behaviorist in this circumstance.
However, all dogs thrive on routine and a sudden change in yours can spiral a dog into anxiety.
By this it is meant that if you spend a lot of time with your dog and then this is suddenly cut down by a change to your routine, it can have a dramatic effect on your dog. Their behavior due to separation anxiety can become poor.
This poor behavior may only manifest itself when you are away from them, but it should be clearly evident upon your return.
One way to address this anxiety in dogs that don't like to be left alone is to make changes to your schedule.
So, for instance, dropping home at lunchtime to check on them or perhaps asking a friend or relative to drop-in may be beneficial.
This is a good alternative to your dog having to be alone for extended lengths of time all of a sudden.
In addition to these steps, it is also important to have enough at home to stimulate your pet dog in your absence.
So this may be intelligent games or toys. Even having another pet for the company can work towards alleviating separation anxiety.
Separation anxiety is one of the most common types of dog anxiety.
It is estimated to affect some 14% of dogs and makes up a large proportion of overall dog anxiety cases.
Another key method to alleviate separation anxiety is to provide your dog with a safe and calm environment in the home.
Why not treat anxiety disorder with the use of a clever bed and try a calming dog bed. These beds are specifically engineered from calming fabrics and offer an enclosed comforting shape for your dog.
They are highly effective and are really something you should consider even if your dog does not experience anxiety that you know of.
As a preventative measure using a calming dog bed can work to ensure your dog's future well being.
Dog Noise Anxiety- Sudden loud noises can trigger dog anxiety, particularly in dogs that have a noise phobia.
A dog with noise phobia will display symptoms of acute anxiety when exposed to thunderstorms, fireworks, parties, and vacuum cleaners as examples.
Dogs may show this anxiety by digging, pacing, or indeed trying to run away from the noise itself.
You can not always anticipate loud noises particularly if you are outside.
But if you know there is an upcoming festival as an example you should take the precautions to shut all the windows.
Create a safe haven zone in the home where they feel comfortable, again with the use of a calming dog bed in their space would have a massive benefit perhaps, playing white noise or gentle classic music to try and mask the loud sounds from outside.
Anxiety In Elderly Dogs- Cognitive dysfunction syndrome is the canine equivalent of Alzheimer's disease in humans. It tends to affect dogs as they enter their older years.
The result of this disease is that your dog may become uneasy, confused, or bark for no apparent reason. Separation anxiety may become enhanced as too may any destructive behaviors.
Veterinary advice should always be sought in these circumstances as they can see if there is any other accompanying ailment and advise on the management of this disease.
Drugs may be prescribed in an effort to improve your dog's overall quality of life. You can have a positive influence on your dog even if they become anxious due to this syndrome.
Something you can do is offer your dog mental stimulation, this and the correct exercise can help to slow the symptoms.
Lack of Exercise- People oftentimes don't consider the amount of exercise your dog is getting has a direct relation to the levels of separation anxiety and noise sensitivity.
This makes sense, as for people exercise is obviously beneficial for our well-being.
Anxiety is something that can be directly impacted upon by the balance of chemicals in the brain, exercise is proven to increase the production of such positive chemicals in both canines and people alike.
This observation is backed up by a study from 2015 in the journal Plos One looking into the different causes of anxiety in dogs.
In the study group lack of exercise had a greater negative impact on making dogs feel anxious. This negative impact was more so than negative experiences in early life.
Some Good Alternative Treatments for Your Dog's Anxiety
If your dog does feel anxious due to life change or health problems or similar environmental factors, it may be treated as per that outlined above for each specific cause.
However, there are some other ways in which canine anxiety can be treated. One is the use of sedative medication such as Trazodone or Tramadol.
They offer temporary relief from the anxious feelings your dog may be experiencing and should only be used in extreme cases of dog anxiety.
A better long-term solution will be brought about if these medications are used in conjunction with behavioral changes. Something else you could consider is the use of pressure wraps on your dog during their most anxious.
These are also are reported to have positive effects, again according to the Journal of Veterinary Behavior. Nowadays you can buy pressure vests that are specially made for your dog.
Conclusion to "Why is My Dog Anxious All of a Sudden?"
Dogs' emotions can sometimes be unexplained from your point of view. Their behaviors can seem illogical and unexplained.
The thing to remember that anxiety is about the individual pet's reaction or response to certain events.
The stimuli for anxiety can be very diverse. It is important to give reassurance to your dog, give rewards only in times of calmness as this is the behavior you want to compound.
Keep your dog healthy physically by offering them the correct amount of exercise via walks outside.
Exercise is of the utmost importance for a reduction in anxiety. There are many treatment options available for a dog that has become anxious.
The holistic, natural remedies are the choice of most dog owners nowadays. Dogs simply thrive on routine, so try and keep this as regular as is possible.
Where adjustments are required to your routine perhaps call upon the assistance of a family member to help.
Be sure to see your vet and/or a dog trainer, these professionals have a lot to offer your dog in terms of their well-being.
The basic solution revolves around learning how to make your pet dog comfortable in unusual situations.
A safe haven of a calming dog bed can be a great step in the right direction for alleviating anxiety.
These beds are also brilliantly used preventatively, stopping potential anxiety from arising by giving the dog a cozy location to hangout in.
Before you go, you might also find this post about symptoms of anxiety in dogs interesting.
A Final Note - If you are really worried about dog anxiety, please take your pup to visit your local veterinarian, it is always better to be safe than sorry.