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Signs of Anxiety in Dogs

Anxiety in dogs might not be obvious.

Anxiety is a fairly common condition in people, but did you know it can also affect dogs? The most commonly recognized form is separation anxiety, but dogs can suffer from anxiety with many different triggers and to varying degrees.

The first step toward helping a dog with anxiety is being able to recognize when she is feeling it. Some of the common body language cues and behaviors of dogs with anxiety are discussed here.

What Does an Anxious Dog Look Like?

Dogs speak to humans mainly through body language. The way they hold themselves, from nose to tail, can give us a tremendous amount of information about what they're thinking and how they're feeling.

If we know how to interpret it.

Here are some common body language cues that anxious dogs often display:

  • Pacing
  • Licking at lips or air
  • Yawning
  • Dilated pupils
  • Excessive panting
  • Drooling
  • Excessive licking or chewing at an area of skin, especially a leg or paw
  • Trembling or shaking
  • Engaging in destructive behavior like chewing or tearing up household items
  • Vocalization such as whining or barking
  • Sudden aggression
  • Restless behavior

All of these signs can indicate medical conditions other than anxiety, as well, so they must be interpreted along with any other signs of illness that might exist as well as the results of a full veterinary exam.

Repetitive or Inappropriate Behaviors Could Indicate Anxiety h2n Dogs

Dogs that engage in repetitive behaviors (like licking one spot on their body or pacing) might be doing so out of anxiety. Additionally, dogs that suffer from anxiety might engage in inappropriate behaviors like chewing or digging at household items, barking or whining incessantly when the owner isn't home, or urinating and defecating in the home.

Causes of Anxiety in Dogs

Some dogs have a more high-strung personality than others and may be prone to anxiety. Other times, special circumstances can contribute to the development of canine anxiety. Below are some of the most common triggers of anxiety in dogs:

  • Loud noises like fireworks and thunder
  • Being bullied by other animals in the home
  • Past experiences with abuse
  • Exposure to laser pointers
  • Circumstances surrounding aging, such as pain, loss of hearing and/or vision, or cognitive dysfunction (senility)
  • New environments
  • New people or pets in the home

How to Treat Canine Anxiety

The first step to helping your dog with anxiety problems is visiting the veterinarian for a thorough physical examination. Your vet will take a complete history from you and might do some tests like blood work or a urinalysis.

Once your veterinarian has ruled out a medical cause for your dog's behavior, you might use one or all of the following approaches to help your dog feel better:

  • Visiting a canine behavior specialist
  • Desensitization therapy
  • Anti-anxiety medications
  • Avoidance of anxiety-producing situations
  • Providing lots of exercise for your dog

You can find a more in-depth discussion and explanation of anxiety-relieving techniques here: "How to Help a Dog with Anxiety."

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How to Cope with Canine Anxiety and Fear by Using Adaptil(TM) (Formerly called D.A.P)

Separation Anxiety in Dogs

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