As trusted vets in Raleigh NC 27614, we see more than a few worried pet parents who are at a loss as to what to do for their dog’s anxiety problems. Anxiety is not an uncommon problem for dogs. There are many reasons that dogs may experience anxiety and as a dog-parent, you are likely seeking a way to help to ease your dog’s fears. In today’s post here at Leesville Animal Hospital’s blog, we are going to take a look at some of the things that you can do for your dog’s anxiety problems.
When you have a dog that shows signs of anxiety, it is important that you first take a trip to your dog’s veterinarian to ensure that there is no other root cause for the problem. What might be some signs that your dog is suffering from anxiety?
- Excessive yawning
- Destructive behavior
- Constant licking
- Self-harming behavior
- Escape attempts
As you can see from the symptoms listed above, there are many ways in which your dog can show their anxiety. Unfortunately, many of these behaviors and signs are also signs of other illnesses and problems, which is why it is imperative that you pay your veterinarian a visit!
Once you get to your veterinarian you will want to explain to them your dog’s behavior including:
- What are they doing?
- When do they do it?
- Any specific stimuli that precedes their behavior
- Anything that calms that behavior
With this information in hand, your veterinarian will perform a thorough physical of your dog looking for any signs of illness or concern that could be causing the behaviors you mentioned. If your veterinarian is able to rule out any possible illness or cause for your dog’s behavior and they feel that the behavior is classic of anxiety, they will discuss treatment options with you.
The treatment options that are available to your dog may be different from the treatment options available to other dogs – this is another reason why you should visit your veterinarian for help in this situation. For example, if your dog suffers from noise based anxiety (thunder etc.) but also has a heart condition, the medications recommended for them may differ based on their health. Another example would be the treatment prescribed for a noise based anxiety case versus a separation based anxiety case!
But what are some of the more commonly prescribed treatments for anxiety in dogs? Let’s take a look.
- The Thunder Shirt or a compression shirt or wrap – This is an approach that works on the same premise as swaddling a baby. Swaddling gives a feeling of comfort and helps to soothe some dogs when they are feeling anxious. This is a common treatment approach for dogs experiencing noise based anxieties or environment based anxiety, it is not as effective for separation anxiety in most cases. The Thunder Shirt costs approximately $55 and has a full money back guarantee if it is not effective in treating your dog’s anxiety.
- Containment – Containment involves the use of a crate to create a safe “den-like” space for your dog where they can feel comforted. Containment can also provide your dog protection from themselves and your home if your dog’s anxiety tends to produce destructive behavior. Containment is particularly helpful for dogs that have been crate trained and who already view their crate as a safe and secure area. Containment can be used for all types of anxiety, however, if you have a dog who has severe separation anxiety it is possible that they could injure themselves in an attempt to escape from their crate. There is no way to really determine whether this will occur other than testing how your dog fares with containment when you are out of the room.
- Pheromones and Aromatherapy – Just like people, dogs respond to the scents of pheromones and aromatherapy. For some dog’s the presence of calming scents through plug-in pheromone distributors, room sprays or collars can be all it takes to invoke a calmer reaction to stressful stimuli. One of the most common brands of pheromone scented products is DAP, this can be purchased through your vet or online. Pheromone therapy and aromatherapy do not work at all for some dogs, it can take the edge off for others and it can be a miracle for some. Finding out whether this treatment approach will work for your dog is going to be a matter of trial and error.
- Herbal Medicine – There are some holistic and herbal supplements that are recommended by holistic veterinarians for the treatment of various types of anxiety. Just like human holistic medications, these supplements target anxiety through the use of natural plants and herbs. It is VITAL that you discuss the use of these medications with your dog’s veterinarian however since as with people, herbs and plants can influence the effectiveness of other medications or health problems.
- Prescription Medications – Prescriptions medications are almost always the last resort for pets with anxiety concerns because they can present varied side effects. If, however, your dog suffers from extreme anxiety, these medications can be a lifesaver for you and your dog. These medications include drugs like Clomipramine, Xanax, and some antidepressants and depending upon the drug selected can be used for short term or long term treatment of anxiety. These medications should ALWAYS be prescribed by your veterinarian and your pet should always be monitored while taking them.
- Behavioral Training – Behavioral training is an approach that should always be implemented for the anxious dog. This is a behavioral approach that helps to desensitize your dog to whatever stimuli are making them anxious. The best approach to behavioral training is to contact a specialist trainer in your area. If you find that a trainer isn’t available to help you or that they are simply too expensive you can consult your veterinarian and conduct your own research to find training methods that will help to desensitize your dog. It is CRUCIAL to know that desensitization training should always be done in a positive manner, you are trying to change your dog’s behavior patterns through reward and praise so that they are no longer anxious. Approaching anxious behaviors with loud, punitive or negative approaches are only going to make your dog’s anxiety worse.
So which of these approaches to anxiety treatment is right for your dog? Only your trusted Raleigh NC 27614 veterinarian can help you to decide, so give your vet a call and set up your appointment today!