Pet Blog / How to Help a Dog with Anxiety

How to Help a Dog with Anxiety

Just like you, your dog experiences a range of emotions. You can tell when your pet is happy, excited, bored, and sad. But did you know that dogs could also end up with anxiety? It’s true!

Many pet parents might not realize their canine companions can indeed get anxious, so they may end up missing the signs of anxiety in dogs or misinterpreting their dog’s behavior. For instance, if your furry friend is anxious and acting up, you might think that they’re just being disobedient or difficult, and this could cause you to miss out on the chance to understand and help your pet feel better. 

Want to learn a bit about dog anxiety so you can recognize the symptoms and use strategies to make your buddy feel at ease? Keep reading to learn how to help a dog with anxiety. 

Dog Anxiety Symptoms and Causes

Every pet is unique in their own way, so one dog’s symptoms can be very different from another dog’s symptoms. Also, the type of anxiety, and how severe it is, can affect the symptoms that arise. Keep an eye on your companion’s body language and behavior to get clues about their emotional state. 

If your dog is feeling anxious or stressed, they might exhibit symptoms like:

  • Aggressive, destructive or repetitive behaviors
  • Withdrawing from the family, hiding or looking for a way out
  • Overreacting to a person, animal, object or place
  • Whining, whimpering or barking
  • Keeping the tail tucked
  • Holding the ears back
  • Restlessness or pacing
  • Trembling
  • Panting or drooling
  • Loss of appetite
  • Urinating and/or defecating indoors

Sometimes, it’s easy to pinpoint the cause of a dog’s anxiety, but other times, it might be challenging. To figure out the triggers, try paying close attention to what your dog is doing and experiencing when the symptoms arise. 

Also, keep in mind that a pet’s current anxiety might be the result of a past trauma. For example, if you adopt a dog who was abused by their previous owners, you might find that the anxiety from their old environment lingers. 

Here are some of the reasons why dogs get anxious:

  • Separation from the family, such as when everyone leaves to go to work 
  • Fear that can be caused by strangers, other animals, kids, noise, or being alone
  • Changes in routine
  • New environment, such as moving into a new house
  • Abandonment, neglect, or abuse
  • Aging or Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome (CDS)

There Are Different Types of Anxiety in Dogs

Anxiety is a general term that can be broken down into more specific categories, such as generalized anxiety, social anxiety, separation anxiety, or environmental anxiety. Your pet might experience one or more types of anxiety, even at the same time. 

For example, if there doesn’t seem to be a particular cause for the anxiety, your vet might diagnose your pet with generalized anxiety. On the other hand, separation anxiety might be to blame if you notice symptoms develop when you aren’t home. Social anxiety might be diagnosed if your pet tends to get nervous around other pets or people. And environmental anxiety might be caused by loud sounds or locations that make your dog feel on edge. 

What Can I Give My Dog for Anxiety: Dog Anxiety Treatment Options

Before we dive into some of the remedies available for canine anxiety, it’s important to note that working with your veterinarian is highly recommended because there might be an underlying medical problem that’s causing your pet’s symptoms. By having your pet examined, you can rule out physical ailments that might be to blame, and then focus on providing the right solution. 

Also, anxiety might be temporary and caused by a particular stimulus, such as going to the vet’s office, or it might be chronic. Your vet can figure out the degree of anxiety your pet is dealing with, and they can use this information to prescribe the appropriate treatment. 

Some remedies are good solutions for calming a dog down when they’re experiencing short-term anxiety, such as when they’re afraid of fireworks on the 4th of July, while others are designed to help dogs with chronic anxiety. 

Below are some of the common remedies to help dogs feel better when they’re anxious:

  • Dog anxiety vest: Vests, t-shirts, and coats designed for anxious dogs may be helpful when it comes to calming them down. Put simply, these products work by applying a bit of pressure on the animal’s torso, thereby making your pet feel like they’re being hugged. 

  • Benadryl: You can buy Benadryl as a dog anxiety medication over the counter, but this doesn’t mean you should just give it to your furry friend without talking to your vet first. Basically, this medicine may help provide some sedation to calm an anxious dog, but your veterinarian will provide guidance on how to use Benadryl for dog anxiety safely.
  • Anxiety meds for dogs: If other remedies aren’t enough, your veterinarian might prescribe medication that can help ease your pet’s fears and anxiety. Examples include Clomicalm, Reconcile, Ativan, Xanax, Sileo, Paxil, Zoloft, and Valium.

  • Other therapies: If you’d prefer taking a more natural or holistic approach to treating your dog’s anxiety, talk to your vet about remedies like canine pheromones, Rescue Remedy, herbal and nutritional supplements, CBD, and massage, as a few examples. Training, socialization, and changing your dog’s diet or exercise routine might also be beneficial. 

How Pet Insurance Can Help When Your Dog Has Anxiety

It’s easy to become stressed or overwhelmed when your dog is experiencing anxiety, and you might be worried about the cost of treating your best friend. Good news: with a high-quality pet insurance plan, you can get financial support when searching for a solution to this problem. 

The right insurance policy may help cover costs of trips to the vet, as well as the cost of treatments prescribed for your dog. Plans vary in terms of coverage and limits, so shop with care when you want to get insurance that will be there if your pet experiences behavioral issues. 

To make the process of finding the best pet insurance easier, browse your options on the Direct Benefits Marketplace.