Dog Anxiety Attacks

Dog Anxiety Attacks

Anxiety attacks are a common problem for pet owners.  When you first get your new pet some anxiety is common.  Most animals require time to get to know their new owners as well as their new environment.

Some pets are prone to having anxiety attacks when left alone whether for a short time or a long time.  Thunderstorms, fireworks and other loud noises may also result in anxiety attacks which, if the animal is left unaided during these disturbances, can be severe.

Regardless of the reason for your dog’s fear, sometimes their fear can be so intense that the dog will suffer physical reactions.  A gentle touch and soft words will often be enough to calm your afraid or stressed pet.  Never yell at a frightened pet.  If it is acting in an inappropriate manner (jumping, barking, or bounding about) your calm response is the best.

Leaving the radio on for ”company” when your pet is home alone will sometimes relieve the dog’s stress.  To ensure a calming effect choose a program with continuous soft music or a talk back program.  Study’s have shown that T.V. and radio programs that have drastic changes or random mixtures of music can actually create stress for our pets.  Think about it, wouldn’t you be scared if you heard dogs barking and then sirens, gunshots, or strange people talking and you were not able to know where the noise was coming from.

Does music soothe pets the same way it can relax people?  Yes, but it like us, it depends on the music.  Studies have shown that all music is not the same and neither is the effect it has on animals.  Classical harp music is used around the world to help alleviate stress in dogs, cats, chimpanzees or other animals.  In some studies, dogs and cats seem to show lower levels of stress when exposed to classical music.  Cats will relax in front of the speakers when classical music is playing and many dogs will bark less – especially when listening to the music of Bach.  Here is a link that has wonderful music to soothe and relax your dog when you aren’t home.

There is also anxiety medication you can get from your Veterinarian, but as with all medication there can be side affects.  Not every anxiety medication works for every dog so you might need to try a few to find just the right one.

Dogs are very social animals and they love to be with us or another family members 24/7.  They don’t like to be left alone.  It is not realistic to think that we can be with them every moment of every day.  Whether we go to work, shop, visit or attend church our pet is not always allowed to come.  Before leaving the house, make sure you schedule time for a brisk walk or a vigorous game of fetch in the yard or park.  Small dogs can play in the house and run around the kitchen or front room.  Having an anxious dog home alone is bad enough,  having a dog that is both anxious and hyper is recipe for disaster.  Physical exercise helps calm a dog down, tires them out and predisposes them for a nap while you are away.  Emotionally, exercise can level out your dog’s brain chemistry in the same way a workout can leave humans exhilarated.  Returning home for your lunch break when working a full day can also reassure your pet you care.  Remember your pet needs your time too.

If you can hire someone to come to your home and take care of your dog while you are away or occasionally take your dog to a friends or relatives while you have to go to work, it helps socialize them.

Anxiety signs to watch for in your dog are:

*yawning when not tired

*licking lips without the presence of food

*excessive licking of paws

*sudden scratching when not itchy

*sudden biting a paw or other body parts

*sudden sniffing the ground or other objects

*wet dog shakes when not wet or dirty

*barking or barking continuously

*drooling and there is no smell of food in the room

*loss of hair when not in a seasonal shed cycle

Depending on the personality of the anxious dog a companion dog can help reduce the anxiety.  Be prepared to take time to find a compatible pet as not all dogs are well matched.  Personalities should be taken into consideration as conflicting personalities might make the anxiety worse.

Animals, like humans are individuals and the solution can be as varied as solutions to our problems.  Patience and love are the critical keys to success!