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Understanding and Managing Your Dog's Anxiety

By Deirdre Frey, VMD

Dog anxiety is a common issue that affects many pets and their owners. It's essential to understand the signs, causes, and solutions to help your furry friend live a happy, stress-free life. At Vet At Your Door, we see many pets with anxious tendencies. We perform comprehensive behavioral evaluations alongside a wonderful range of medications to create a personalized plan tailored to your pet. In this guide, we delve into the details of dog anxiety and introduce you to our top products that can help.

What is Dog Anxiety?

Dog anxiety can manifest in various forms, affecting dogs of all ages and breeds. It's a state of unease or apprehension that can be triggered by different factors. Anxiety in dogs can be acute (short-term) and/or chronic (long-term), and it can significantly impact their quality of life.

Common Signs of Anxiety in Dogs

Recognizing the signs of anxiety in your dog is the first step toward managing it. Common symptoms include:

  • Excessive Barking or Howling: Dogs may vocalize their distress when left alone or when they feel threatened.

  • Panting, Pacing, or Drooling: These physical signs often indicate that a dog is feeling anxious or stressed.

  • Destructive Behaviors: Chewing on furniture, shoes, or other objects can be a coping mechanism for anxiety.

  • Attempts to Escape or Hide: Dogs may try to run away or hide under furniture when they are anxious.

  • Changes in Appetite or Sleeping Patterns: Anxiety can cause dogs to eat less or more than usual and disrupt their sleep.

At-Home Behavioral Evaluations

At Vet At Your Door, we offer comprehensive anxiety assessments and behavioral evaluations at home. Our experienced veterinarians will visit your home to assess your dog's behavior in their natural environment. This personalized service allows us to create a tailored plan to address your dog's specific anxiety issues. We aim to rule out any metabolic causes that may be leading to these symptoms. If no metabolic cause is found, we then manage the anxiety based on the underlying cause, ensuring a comprehensive approach to their well-being.

Causes of Anxiety in Dogs

If no obvious metabolic cause is present, understanding the root causes of your dog's anxiety can help you address it more effectively. Common causes include:

  • Separation Anxiety: Fear of being left alone is one of the most common anxiety issues in dogs.

  • Noise Anxiety: Loud noises such as thunderstorms, fireworks, or construction sounds can trigger anxiety.

  • Travel Anxiety: Car rides or trips to unfamiliar places can be stressful for some dogs.

  • Change in Environment: Moving to a new home, changes in family dynamics, or the introduction of new pets can cause anxiety.

  • Lack of Socialization: Dogs that have not been exposed to different people, animals, or environments may develop anxiety.

I can't resist a special shout-out for home visits, as visits to the vet can trigger all five of these stressors!

Strategies for Managing Dog Anxiety

Managing your dog's anxiety involves a combination of behavioral strategies and products designed to alleviate stress. Here are some effective methods:

  • Create a Safe Space: Provide a comfortable and secure area where your dog can retreat when feeling anxious.

  • Gradual Desensitization: Gradually expose your dog to anxiety-inducing stimuli in a controlled and positive way.

  • Regular Exercise: Physical activity helps burn off excess energy and promotes overall well-being.

  • Behavioral Training: Positive reinforcement and training techniques can help reduce anxiety over time.

  • Comfort Items: Toys, blankets, or clothing with your scent can provide comfort to your dog.

Some of Our Favorite Products for Managing Dog Anxiety

In addition to our personalized evaluations, we have cultivated a "list of favorites" that seem to offer comfort to our anxious canine patients. Here are some of our top recommendations:

  • Usage: Chronic anxiety

  • Description: Ellevet Hemp products are renowned for their effectiveness in managing chronic anxiety in dogs. Backed by peer-reviewed research and trusted by notable institutions, these products offer a reliable solution for long-term anxiety management. Hemp (CBD) has been shown to reduce anxiety, promote relaxation, and improve overall well-being in dogs.

  • Benefits: High-quality, research-backed, and effective for chronic anxiety.

  • Usage: Acute anxiety

  • Description: These chews are designed for quick relief in acute anxiety situations, such as during thunderstorms, fireworks, or sudden changes in routine. They provide immediate calming effects to help your dog feel more at ease.

  • Benefits: Fast-acting, convenient, and ideal for situational anxiety.

  • Usage: Chronic anxiety

  • Description: This probiotic supplement promotes a healthy gut microbiome, which can influence your dog's mood and behavior. The beneficial probiotic strain, Bifidobacterium longum BL999, targets the gut-brain axis, helping to manage anxiety by balancing the bacteria in the gut. Shelter studies have shown significant improvement in dogs displaying anxious behaviors such as excessive barking, jumping, pacing, and spinning. Regular use helps manage chronic anxiety by supporting overall digestive health​. May take six weeks for results.

  • Benefits: Natural, supports gut health, and effective for long-term anxiety management.

4. Interactive Toys (Kongs and Chew Toys)

  • Usage: Distraction and mental stimulation

  • Description: Interactive toys like Kongs and chew toys are excellent for food-motivated dogs. They provide mental stimulation and a rewarding activity that can distract from anxiety-inducing triggers. Our favorite trick is to put canned food or peanut butter in several kongs, and freeze them to make them last longer. These can be kept at the ready for unpredictable and predictable stressful situations.

  • Benefits: Keeps dogs engaged, mentally stimulating, and reduces anxiety through distraction.

5. Prescription Medications

  • Usage: Acute and Chronic Anxiety

  • Description: When the above and behavior modification techniques and training are not enough, we can turn to pharmaceuticals as well. They can help take the edge off alongside other supplements and positive training techniques.

Understanding and managing your dog's anxiety is key to ensuring their well-being. By recognizing the signs, understanding the causes, and utilizing effective products, you can help your furry friend lead a happier, more relaxed life. Visit our online store to explore our full range of anxiety-relief products. For a personalized approach, consider scheduling an at-home behavioral evaluation with our experienced veterinarians. Remember, a calm dog is a happy dog!



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