Over the past decade, there has been a significant shift in understanding and treating human anxiety- but most people still don’t know that pets can also feel anxious and stressed. In fact, according to research, anxiety in dogs is common with close to 75% having at least one behavior rooted in anxiety.
Unfortunately, it’s hard to know when our furry friends are experiencing anxiety because they can’t tell us. We must learn to pay attention to their behaviors. Balanced Pets, an integrative veterinary clinic in Traveler’s Rest, SC, can diagnose and treat your pet’s anxiety.
In this article, we will explain some of the most common signs of pet anxiety and offer some tips on how to handle it.
Top 18 Signs of Anxiety in Pets
While the signs and symptoms of anxiety vary from one dog to another, some of the most common include:
- Excessive barking: While barking is how dogs communicate, excessive barking is an indication that your dog is stressed.
- Whining: This is another common way for dogs to communicate to indicate that something is wrong or excitement that you have returned- but it may also be an indication that they are anxious
- Destructive behaviors: Destroying things is not normal, it’s how dogs relieve stress and excess energy
- Panting: Panting is how dogs cool themselves off, but may also indicate they are on edge
- Licking: Dogs will lick themselves to relieve an itch or to groom themselves, but may also lick compulsively when they are feeling anxious
- Shaking: Dogs often shake if they are cold or in pain, but may also shake when they are feeling anxious for any reason
- Pacing: Pacing is a strong indication that something is wrong
- Anal gland expression: In some cases, your dog’s anal glands may involuntarily squirt when they are feeling anxious
- Peeing/pooping in the house: If your dog is having accidents even though they are housetrained, they are likely in distress
- Drooling: Some slobber is normal- but if your dog is drooling excessively, they may be feeling anxious
- Aggressiveness: Most dogs are not naturally aggressive, so if they start acting out, they are probably anxious
- Scratching at the door: While your dog may scratch when they need to go outside, excessive scratching is an indication that they are anxious
- Attempting to escape: In some cases, your dog may try to escape from the situation that has them anxious
- Lowered tail: If your dog has lowered their tail or is wagging it in a short arc toward the left side, they may be feeling anxious
- Enlarged pupils: If your dog is feeling anxious, their pupils may dilate and have a glassy look
- Tight lips: If your dog’s lips are tight or pulled back at the corners, they are likely feeling anxious
- Raised hackles: Hackles refer to the fur on the back, shoulders, and above the tail of your dog- when this is raised, they are feeling uneasy
- Tense muscles: When your dog is anxious, they may appear tense with their weight centered over their legs
5 Tips for Managing Your Pet’s Anxiety
Managing your pet’s anxiety begins with a trip to the vet to get an official diagnosis and treatment plan. Common treatments include:
- Physical activity: Exercise is a natural stress reliever for humans and pets
- Positive reinforcement: Take the time to work with your dog when they are calm and rested. Praise/reward desired behaviors, but don’t punish unwanted ones.
- Medications: Just as with human anxiety, in some cases, medication may be necessary to manage this condition
- Safe space: Create a safe space/retreat that your pet can settle into when they are feeling anxious
- Natural products: In some cases, natural products such as vitamins, minerals, or herbs can be used to treat anxiety
Schedule A Consultation with Balanced Pets
If you have noticed some of the signs and symptoms of pet anxiety, schedule a consultation with the team at Balanced Pets today. Our staff understands that you want what’s best for your pet. We will work with you to diagnose your pet’s condition and help you find the best treatment plan.