Take a Chill Pill!
In a society that is increasingly aware of our own mental anxiety, it is only natural that we begin to note similar symptoms in our furry family members. We are fortunate to have so many options to help our pets survive and recover from anxiety, but how do we know when it is appropriate to intercede medically?
First, let’s briefly explore the four common types of anxiety in dogs.
Separation Anxiety occurs when the pet panics when left alone; or, is separated from a playmate.
Noise Anxiety is associated with loud and/or sudden noises such as thunder, fireworks, children playing loudly or construction noise.
Old-age Onset Anxiety develops as a pet loses its ability to remember and learn; or, loses a faculty such as sight or hearing.
Trauma-induced Anxiety can occur at any time in a pet’s lif
e and can be as simple as pain associated with jumping into a car; or, being attacked by a predator.
How to tell if your pet suffers from anxiety:
Signs and Symptoms:
✔ Dilated Pupils
✔ Posture (tucked tail, averted head, defensive crouch)
✔ Escape Behaviors (Digging, Dashing)
✔ Excessive vocalizations (whining, barking, howling)
✔ Digestive and Elimination issues (pain, diarrhea, piddling)
Anxiety is Dangerous to your Pet’s Health:
● Escape behaviors can put your pet at risk
● Excess oxidative stress can put a strain on your Pet’s immune system
● Self-harming through biting or licking skin and paws; causing hot spots and lesions
● Aggressive (self-protective) behaviors
What to do for your pet:
Visit your vet: These behaviors may have an underlying physical trigger; such as, toxicity, pain or neurological symptoms. Be sure to discuss frequency, possible triggers (environment and history), and symptoms that have been observed. If there are any tactics that you have already tried, describe their efficacy.
Provide a chance to burn off excess energy: Whether that means a long walk, a trip to the dog park or an active play session, your dog will benefit from both the interaction with you and the serotonin-producing exercise.
Distract the mind to disrupt the behavior: This is not the time to introduce new tricks, but it is an excellent time to reward your dog for a sit/stay. A repeated pattern of action/reward might break the cycle of panic. DO NOT over-coddle or reassure a panicking dog, this just reinforces the behavior.
Encourage and reward normal behavior. Speak low and slow. Offer normal activities like a walk or a ball-chasing session. If the trigger is loud noises or an active environment, retreat with your dog to a quieter space as soon as you can.
Turn up the Beat: If your dog is triggered by noise (thunder or fireworks) break up the noise with more soothing tunes played at an increasing volume.
Natural Solutions: There are many non-medical options for helping to reduce pet anxiety.
● Thundershirts and weighted blankets (excellent for all types of anxiety, not just noise) utilize
Deep Tissue Pressure that releases serotonin into the bloodstream, which will naturally soothe
● DAP (Adaptil) Diffuser
● Behavior Modification through training. Working with your veterinarian and/or a behavioral therapist for dogs to establish a plan for retraining is, by far, the best solution.
Unfortunately, many owners require a quick fix. Behavior modification training is a long-term solution that will help your dog become confident in most situations and allow them to transform feelings of stress and panic into a state of peace and well-being. It takes dedication and consistency, which can be difficult given our busy lifestyles.
Your Vet will be able to work with you to determine the best path to mental well-being for you and your dog. There are several excellent options available for them to prescribe, but as with humans, sometimes it takes a little tinkering to find a medication that will provide the right level of relief. When used in conjunction with some of the more natural methods, medication does not need to become a permanent solution. Re-evaluate on a regular basis with your vet to make sure your pet continues to make progress towards living its best life.
About West Chester Veterinary Center:
We are a dedicated team that is passionate about your pet’s wellness and your peace of mind.
We work hard to build trusting relationships between our vets, clients, and their pets.
Those relationships allow us to offer compassionate and progressive medical care with excellence.
With over 10,000 square feet of newly renovated space, our pet care facility offers:
complete veterinary care services, clean & spacious boarding areas, and grooming.
West Chester Veterinary Center welcomes the opportunity
to serve you and your pets. http://www.wcvetcenter.com/