If Your Dog Suffers from Anxiety


Some dogs suffer from anxiety or fearfulness when separated from their masters. Others can work themselves into a crazed frenzy when they hear loud noises like thunderstorms, fireworks, or the doorbell ringing.

Some small dog breeds can be predisposed to mild anxiety such as poodles or cocker spaniels. Abuse, neglect or even a single bad experience before a dog has been adopted can cause mild to debilitating anxiety.

There are several signs of anxiety attacks that you need to be able to recognize in order to help your dog.

Separation Anxiety

Dogs may exhibit these behaviors as you are getting ready to leave the house or while you are gone.

  1. Excessive pacing or spinning in circles
  2. Monotonous barking or whining
  3. Vomiting or diarrhea
  4. Destructive chewing
  5. Urinating or defecating in the house
  6. Scratching or digging at window or doors

Give your dog a safe place like a room with a window and lots of toys and take him for long walks before you leave. This will help him associate your leaving with fun walks and toys. If the separation anxiety continues, you may need to consult with your vet about prescribing medication or seek non-drug alternatives like the Thundershirt.

Noise anxiety

Loud noises such as thunder, fireworks, vacuum cleaners, construction sounds, gunshots or car backfires can cause many dogs to be fearful; but some dogs may exhibit these extreme behaviors whenever they hear these kind of noises.

  1. Trying to chew through the door
  2. Trying to jump out of a window
  3. Charging, growling and baring teeth at the suspected noise source
  4. Trying to run from the sound
  5. Urinating or defecating inside of the house

Turn on the fan, air conditioner, radio or TV to help block out the noise. Put your dog in his crate or a small room so he feels safe. If the behaviors are really extreme and frequent, you may need consult your Vet about prescribing medication or seek non-drug alternatives like the Thundershirt.

Some dogs can have such extreme anxiety attacks that they will self-mutilate by incessant licking or chewing on toenails or feet. Such behavior can cause serious wounds or skin infections.

Treatments for Anxiety Disorders

There are several alternatives to help your dog with his anxiety disorder:

  1.  Medication
  2. Thundershirts
  3. Pheromones
  4. Accupuncture
  5. Herbal Supplements and Extracts

Many of the same anti-depressant medications that help humans deal with fears and anxieties also work with dogs.

1. Low cost
2. Effective at calming the dog by blocking serotonin uptakes

1. Effectively sedates your dog
2. Unwanted side effects such as ataxia, cardiac arrhythmia, alterations in blood pressure can occur.

12669691_173800452989253_7305096781026552782_nA Thundershirt is a snug-fitting body wrap similar to dog winter coat for your dog that target various pressure points and exert constant pressure on the dog’s body.

Size definitely matters because you want the Thundershirt to hug your pet’s frame, securing a snug fit under its torso. Seven sizes are available for dogs, with options ranging from XXS for anxious pups weighing less than 7 pounds to XXL for dogs up to 110 pounds.

Thundershirts look very sporty and are similar to vest worn by racing greyhounds. The shirt has long sticky Velcro strips to help get a good, snug fit. They come in grey, blue and pink and you can have your dog’s name embroidered on it for a small $10 fee. The Thundershirt runs about $40 at the Thundershirt.com website.

1. Creates a sensation similar to swaddling a baby to help calm your dog.
2. Completely drug-free and natural.

1. Thundershirts will not work on all dogs. Some dogs may get even more anxious when they experience constant pressure on their body.
2. It is unclear whether Thundershirts are effective in helping dogs with anxiety problems.

A Pheromone for the treatment of anxiety in dogs is a synthetically manufactured hormone known as Dog Appeasing Pheromone or DAP. DAP is a naturally occurring hormone initially extracted from lactating bitches. DAP is infused into an aerosol spray, diffuser or heat activated collar. The Pheromone invokes a calming mood.

1. Easy to use
2. Naturally occurring hormone

1. Due to the nature of how DAP works, DAP must be released in advance of a stressful event, thus they are not recommended for acute events.
2. Clinical trials show no evidence that DAP helps with anxiety problems in adult dogs.

Acupressure is based on the principals of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). There are specific acupressure points of energy on the dog’s body that can be stimulated to relieve a dog’s anxiety and support his self-confidence and sense of security.

1. Accupuncture can be just as helpful for pets as for humans
2. Administered by license Veterinary Accupuncturists

1. Can be expensive
2. It’s an unproven treatment fro both pets and humans

Some dog owners recommend the use of essentials oils like lavender. Just put a couple of drops onto the dog’s collar so your dog can smell the soothing oil but can’t eat it.

Other owners wanting an herbal treatments use edible blends of flower extracts, such as Rescue Remedy or Ultra-Calm, in liquid or pill form fed to the dog in a treat.

1. All natural.
2. Easy to administer

1. Can be expensive
2. No evidence that herbal remedies are effective in helping dogs with anxiety problems.

Before choosing a treatment, you should identify the causes that lead to anxiety in your dog. Every dog is unique, thus if one treatment does not work for your dog, try another until you find one that helps sooth your pet and relieve the stress and anxiety. Your dog will thank you for it!