17 Signs My Dog Has Anxiety
Dog anxiety may not seem like a big deal, but it is a big deal to your dog. Suppose anxiety and stress are not being addressed in your pet. In that case, it can cause him serious health issues and even behavior problems. So, if your dog is showing some signs of anxiety, it’s essential to find the source of his stress and treat it.
How Anxiety Can Affect Your Dog
Your dog can’t tell you when he’s stressed and feeling anxious. You need to learn to recognize the symptoms of when your dog isn’t feeling up to par. There are some ideas you can try to help your dog overcome his anxiety and feel better. This can include bonding time, calming beds, and exercise to name a few
Signs of anxiety in dogs can affect your dog in different ways. His physical responses could be elevated heart and breathing rate. There could be a fight-or-flight response or poor digestion.
Your dog could have increased urination, defecation, or even diarrhea. His pupils could become dilated, he could drool excessively or foam at the mouth. Your dog could shake uncontrollably and have changes in his appetite - these are all examples of critical signs of stress in your dog.
If you are aware of any of these signs of anxiety, your dog could be suffering from anxiety and stress.
Signs of Anxiety in Dogs
When your dog is anxious, there are ways you can tell through his body language and his behavior. If you see signs any of these dog anxiety symptoms & behaviors, your dog is most likely nervous and stressed.
- Not being able to settle down and relax: If your dog seems to be on edge and is restless, he could be anxious or stressed. He could flinch every time there’s a noise or wake up from sleeping frequently. Your pet may have a tense body posture and alert wide eyes even when he's lying down.
- Pacing endlessly: If your dog is anxious, he may pace around the yard or house endlessly. He may check the same perimeter points repeatedly, whether in the home or the yard. Your dog could run back and forth and check his favorite window more than he usually does as well.
- Shaking: If your dog feels upset and stressed, he could begin shaking with full-body tremors or just trembling. These dog anxiety signs can be scary to watch, but a dog can also tremble and shake from excitement. If the shaking and trembling continue, talk to your vet about the behavior.
- Freezing in place: When your dog is walking along and suddenly freezes in place, he doesn’t feel that he’s safe or feeling noticeably confident. When a dog freezes in place, he is solid stiff with a rigid body. This is an indicator of stress or anxiety.
- Unusual posturing: This is similar to freezing. Your dog may move or sit with an awkward or hunched-over posture. He may look as if he’s tense or contorted. Your dog may even shrink down in a defensive pose. When your dog postures strangely, he could be ill or injured, so watch for limping or yelping when he moves.
- Flattened or rigid ears: If your dog has his ears laid straight back, he might be trying to tell you that he’s upset about something or stressed. Your dog’s ears are like turn signals that can tell you what his mood is.
- Sweaty paws: Your dog doesn't sweat a lot, but when he does, it will be from his feet. If your dog is stressed, he may sweat more than average and even leave wet sweat tracks around your house. Sweaty paws can also be an indicator of increased body temperature. So you may want to take your dog’s temperature and call your vet to rule out illness.
- Excess drooling: If your dog is anxious, he could start to drool or foam at the corners of his mouth. Not only can this be messy around your house, but if your dog has long hair, it can become a grooming issue. Your dog could develop hot spots or mats from all the excess moisture.
- Changes in the eyes: Your pet's eyes are an indication of how he's feeling, just like his ears. If your dog is showing the whites of his eyes, it’s called whale eyeing. Your dog will tilt his head but keep his eyes focused on what he’s looking at. This is a sign that your dog is afraid, so be careful because he could snap or bite.
- Showing his gums: If your dog looks likes he's snarling or curling his lips up to show his teeth, he is upset about something. This is also a prelude to possible biting or nipping, giving your dog lots of space if you see this behavior. On the other hand, some dogs show their teeth while wagging their tail and are happy. You need to know your dog to decide what he is doing.
- Hiding from you: If your dog is hiding under the bed or other furniture, then he could be stressed or anxious. When your dog feels threatened, it’s a self-preservation method. If your dog is feeling ill or is injured, hiding is also a sign. Pay close attention to whether your dog is feeling anxious or is hurt. If he’s hurt or sick, you will need to call the vet immediately.
- Tucked in tail: If your dog has his tail tucked between his legs, he is afraid of something or uncertain. If your pet's tail is tucked, proceed to approach him with caution. Talk to him in a pleasant soothing voice so he relaxes and can be approached.
- Scratching: One sign of anxiety in dogs is if they scratch and they aren’t itchy. It's because sometimes, when your dog scratches himself, it relieves trapped stress. But keep an eye on him because excessive scratching can cause your dog to lose hair. Plus, his skin can become irritated and even infected. You need to call your vet to have a check-up to make sure it isn't skin issues instead.
- Self-calming behaviors: Another sign of anxiety in dogs is self-soothing behaviors. Your dog may excessively lick his lips, yawn, or even sneeze. These behaviors are a calming signal from your dog to a perceived threat that's he's harmless. With these behaviors, your dog is making himself feel more in control of the situation.
- Bathroom issues: This behavior can stress you out as well as your dog. If your dog is overly stressed or anxious, he may show it by urinating or defecating in the home. Plus, your pet could suffer from bouts of uncontrollable diarrhea. If there are bathroom issues, you need to call your vet. This is especially true if diarrhea is involved because your dog could become dehydrated on top of other potential health issues.
- Vomiting: Vomiting can be another sign of anxiety in dogs. Your dog could start to vomit because of feeling stressed. It could be from a change in his routine or a ride in the car to the vet. Vomiting could also be an underlying health issue, so you need to call the vet if it happens frequently.
- Lack of appetite: If your dog suddenly loses interest in eating or won’t even eat his favorite treats, signs your dog has anxiety and he could be anxious about something. It could be your dog totally refusing his food or sudden pickiness. If it continues, you need to call your vet for advice.
Causes of Stress in Dogs
Many things can cause signs of anxiety in dogs. In order to treat why your dog is anxious and stressed, you will need to figure out what is making him that way. Some of the things that can cause your dog to have a stress and anxiety reaction are:
Sudden loud noises: Loud noises such as a car backfiring, thunderstorms, or fireworks, for example, can cause your dog to have an anxiety attack.
Changes in the living situation: Moving can be difficult for your pet. The actual move itself, plus trying to find a familiar scent or spot in an unfamiliar neighborhood. But sometimes even rearranging your furniture or buying new furniture can cause an issue.
Changes within the family composition: Bringing home a new baby, new significant other, or adding another pet can make your dog feel anxious. Your dog may no longer know what his role within the pack is now.
Invasion of your dog’s personal space: Everyone can feel invaded when their personal space is encroached, even your dog. If your dog has to share his space with people or other animals, he might show signs of stress.
Conflicts in relationships: If there is arguing in the home frequently, it can affect your dog. It can make your dog afraid of men or women, and he may become anxious around whoever is doing the most yelling. Plus, your dog can feel any relationship stress that is put out.
How to Reduce Your Dog’s Anxiety
There are ways to help reduce signs of anxiety in dogs and minimize a dog’s reactions to triggers. One thing is to make an appointment with your vet to make sure your dog doesn't have an underlying medical condition. If this is ruled out, then you have other options.
You can try desensitization by working with your dog’s fears. When you work with your pet’s fears, it will instill confidence in him. Introducing slowly the triggers that are making your dog anxious can make whatever it is less scary. By making it less scary, it relieves anxiety and stress. This process is gradual, and you may need a professional if your dog’s anxiety is severe.
Counter conditioning goes along with desensitization and will reprogram your dog to react differently to a stressful situation. Giving your dog a treat is an excellent way to counteract the trigger reaction. It can help him make the scary situation into a positive one.
Anxiety calming pet beds, such as the Anxiety Calming Bed by PetSwag, are another valuable item for anxiety in your dog. You’ll want to find a calming bed that has raised rims to give your dog a sense of security and coziness. The material the bed is made from needs to be soft and fluffy to keep your dog warm.
The high walls of a calming pet bed can help your dog feel safe and protected. A bed with a padded bottom will let your pet feel comfortable on any surface. The calming bed needs to be rip and tear-resistant, so if your dog digs and claws, it won’t rip the bed. Lastly, it needs to be machine washable for cleanliness.
Another way to treat anxiety in dogs is to have more bonding time. Spending more time with your dog one-on-one will help strengthen the bond between you. It will also make your dog feel more confident. Take your dog for walks, play fetch, scratch his belly, or anything else you think he's like to strengthen your bond.
Crating is another way to help your dog if he has separation anxiety. A crate will give your dog a place that is his. Some signs of separation anxiety in dogs are that they have no place to get away from whatever is bothering them. A crate will give your dog a place to relax and keep him safe. When you add a calming pet bed to the crate, he will have double the security.
Another sign of anxiety in dogs is not having enough mental stimulation. When your dog is bored, he can act out with barking, destructive behavior, and anxiety. Buy your dog some brain-engaging interactive toys. Toys that keep your dog busy will make him not have enough time to be anxious.
Signs of anxiety in dogs can be subtle or very noticeable. It’s essential that you pay attention to the clues your pet gives you if he’s anxious. Sometimes just making a change to your dog's routine can help soothe his anxiety. But if your dog has more severe anxiety, your may need to call your vet or a professional dog trainer for assistance.