Much like how humans can deal with a whole lot of emotional problems, dogs are also sometimes predisposed to suffer from psychological issues. And much like with human medicine, veterinary medicine has also become much more encompassing in the treatment of these problems – one of which is anxiety.
Unfortunately, the number of dogs who are suffering from anxiety are on the rise in the wake of the global pandemic. With pets growing used to having their pet parents at home, many are now dealing with separation anxiety after face-to-face operations are now gradually being implemented again. In fact, a 2022 scientific study from Green Element estimates anxiety in dogs to have jumped to 700% more. These include anxiety over loud noises, separation, and introduction to strangers.
If you’ve observed changes in your pet’s personality and behavior during the past few months or after introducing a new lifestyle pattern, it’s best that you equip yourself with the right knowledge on pet anxiety.
In this article, we’ll help introduce you with the most telltale signs of dog anxiety and the most common reasons behind it.
What Are the Most Common Anxiety Symptoms Every Dog Owner Needs to Know?
To help you narrow down your dog’s possible anxiety symptoms, here are some of the most common signs that you should look out for:
- Excessive barking or howling – Increased vocalization is one of the top signs of pet anxiety. Remember that aside from non-verbal cues, your pet’s primary mode of communication is through barking, howling, or whining. If your pet is exhibiting increased instances of continuous vocalization when they’re in unfamiliar territory or if they’re away from you, this can be a sign that your dog is suffering from anxiety.
- Pacing – When introduced to anxiety-inducing situations, dogs may start to become restless or be unable to stay in one position for long periods of time. You may notice them pacing around your home or moving around more frequently.
- Trembling or shaking – Anxiety may also manifest as fear, with pets exhibiting trembling or shaking. This sign typically coincides with your pet hiding or cowering. If your pet is trembling, consider separating them from the source of anxiety or situating them in a calmer environment.
- Panting or drooling – Dogs may start excessively panting or drooling when they’re anxious or fearful. However, because panting is also a symptom of many other problems, it’s important that you clearly find the reason behind it. This will help you avoid wrongly diagnosing your pet, which may often lead to irreversible damage.
- Aggressive behavior, such as growling or biting – Dogs may also appear angry or aggressive when they’re anxious. If you notice that your pet has started growling, snapping, or biting when they’re in certain situations but completely normal in others, these may point to anxiety rather than behavioral issues.
- Excessive grooming or licking – When dogs are anxious or frightened, they may try to self-soothe by trying to groom themselves. You may notice your dog start to bite their nails or lick their paws. This is their way to produce a sense of relaxation and to try to dampen their anxiety. In some instances, grooming also helps dogs distract themselves from the source of their fear.
What Are the Most Common Causes of Dog Anxiety?
Now that you’re familiar with the most common symptoms of dog anxiety, it’s now time that you learn about its possible causes. However, there are several potential causes of anxiety in dogs, and it can be challenging to pinpoint the exact cause. Here are some of the most common causes of dog anxiety:
- Separation anxiety – Dogs are social creatures and like being in the presence of their owners. Therefore, when they are separated from them, it can lead to feelings of stress and unease.
- Fear of loud noises – A lot of dogs are frightened by loud sounds such as fireworks, traffic, and thunder. This fear can be intensified by the fact that dogs have a more sensitive hearing ability compared to humans.
- Changes in routine or environment – Due to their tendency to follow routine, dogs can experience anxiety when their usual pattern is interrupted, such as when they move to a new residence, there is a shift in their feeding schedule, or a new member joins the family.
- Lack of socialization – If dogs don’t receive sufficient socialization during their puppyhood, they can develop anxiety and fear when they are exposed to new or unfamiliar people, animals, or situations.
- Medical issues – Anxiety may also be a symptom of many medical conditions, including thyroid imbalances or depression. In some instances, your pet’s anxiety may also be caused by genetics, especially since some dog breeds are more predisposed to the condition than others. Some dog breeds that are prone to anxiety include Chihuahuas, Miniature Schnauzers, Dachshunds, Border Collies, and German Shepherds.
Anxious Pets Need Proper Support From Their Owners
These are only some of the most common causes of anxiety in dogs. If you believe that your dog is suffering from anxiety, it’s still best that you seek the help of a veterinarian, a pet care specialist, or a certified animal behaviorist. For many pet parents, aggressive anxiety symptoms may be alarming or even frightening, but please remember that when your pets are exhibiting these symptoms, they’re just as equally frightened and unsettled.
Provide your pet with the comfort they need, and help them navigate new terrain through professional help.