Anxiety is not only something humans suffer with, man’s best friend can also experience anxiety. And, like people, dog anxiety is typically never fully cured, but can be managed quite well with the right information and treatment plan.

how to reduce dog anxiety

If you have a dog with anxiety, you’ll definitely want to read this entire article to learn where a dog's anxiety comes from and what you can do to help.

What Causes Anxiety in Dogs?

To understand what causes anxiety in dogs, we’ve got to break dog anxiety into two different categories: behavioral anxiety and situational anxiety.

Behavioral Anxiety

Behavioral anxiety describes anxiety that is chronic or ongoing. Separation anxiety is an example of behavioral anxiety. It is believed that roughly 14% of dogs suffer from separation anxiety.

Separation anxiety, along with other behavioral anxieties, are typically the result of abuse and/or abandonment in the dog’s history. With separation anxiety, a dog is fearful of being left home alone or being separated from their owner in any way. These dogs are so anxious that as soon as you pick up your keys to leave they begin to show signs of stress.

Other causes of behavioral anxiety include:

  • Past trauma

  • A new home

  • Loss of a loved one

Situational Anxiety

Situational anxiety happens when a dog has a specific fear of something. For instance, some dogs are afraid of car rides while others are afraid of thunderstorms or fireworks.

Anxiety tends to worsen as a dog ages and begins to experience cognitive dysfunction and other memory impairments.

treating dog anxiety

Signs Of Anxiety In Dogs

Some dogs have very obvious signs of stress and anxiety, while other dogs are less obvious. If you think your dog may be suffering with anxiety it’s important to pay close attention to see if you notice any of the following:

  • Chewing or destructive behavior

  • Barking or crying

  • Repetitive or compulsive behaviors

  • Restlessness, pacing

  • Excessive licking

  • Aggression

  • Loss of appetite, refusal to eat

  • Trembling or shaking

  • Excessive panting

5 Ways to Calm Your Anxious Dog

dog anxiety treatments

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to alleviating a dog's anxiety. The best thing to do is speak with your vet to see what treatment options they think are best. Some dog anxiety is so severe, medication may be warranted. Your vet may also suggest you take your pup to a board certified veterinary behaviorist.

There are also natural treatments for anxiety in dogs. Here are 5 ways pet owners can calm their anxious dog: 

1. Exercise

All dogs need daily exercise. Some dogs need a little, but many dogs need quite a bit of it.

Think about when you are feeling stressed or anxious. You have this pent up, nervous energy that makes you feel worse. The same happens with dogs. A daily walk or two can do wonders at helping dogs release this anxious energy so they can remain calm.

2. Massage

When people are tense we typically head to the spa so we can receive a nice, relaxing massage. Well massage also works wonders on your canine pal as well because massage helps your dog release tension and relieve stress. But you don’t have to take your dog to a fancy doggie spa, you can give daily massages to your pup. The great thing is, giving your dog a massage is incredibly calming for you as well. In fact, studies have shown petting a dog can decrease blood pressure. That’s a win/win!

3. Music Therapy

Music therapy has been shown to not only be beneficial to humans, but to also treat anxiety in our four-legged companions as well. Music can be incredibly calming to your anxious dog, especially when you are out of the house or in the car. As an added bonus, music can block other loud noises, such as traffic noise, that may cause your dog stress.

You may be wondering what kind of music will calm your dog. Well, research has found that a majority of dogs prefer classical music. It may not be your cup of tea, but it may be the very thing that helps your dog while you’re away, in the car, or while there is a thunderstorm going on.

4. Adaptil Home Diffuser

Adaptil is like aromatherapy for your dog. This product uses pheromones that help calm your dog. Fun fact: nursing mothers’ bodies produce similar pheromones when they are nursing their new puppies to help calm them.

Adaptil comes in a spray or a handy diffuser that you simply plug into an outlet, much like a nightlight. The diffuser will release the pheromones throughout the day. While humans and cats can’t smell Adaptil, your dog will be calmed by the scent. these pheromones can even help calm dogs with severe anxiety.

5. Calming T-Shirts

You’ve probably seen calming t-shirts for dog with anxiety disorder advertised. These shirt apply a slight, constant pressure to your dog’s torso. It’s a similar idea to swaddling a baby. These shirts can really help dogs who suffer from all types of anxiety. Just be sure to measure your dog and follow directions so you can choose the right size for your dog.

Living with anxiety is awful, for both people and dogs. Help your dog by paying close attention to their behavior to spot any signs of anxiety. This is particularly true if you have rescued a dog that has trauma or abuse in their history. If you work with your vet and try some of these treatment options, you can help your furry friend live a happy and calm life!

dog anxiety remedies

Are Vet Bills Giving You Anxiety?

You want to do right by your pup and give them the absolute best care to help them get relief from their anxiety. But let’s be honest, often humans feel major anxiety when we are hit with a big vet bill!

A pet insurance plan can help you give your dog the care they need to feel better while also helping you feel calmer when it comes time to paying the bill. Did you know there were some pet insurance plans that will actually reimburse you for up to 90% of the bill?

Pet Insurance Review has a mission to help pet owners ensure their pet gets the quality care they need. We bring you the top pet health insurance policies on the market so you can easily afford to give your fur baby the best treatment.

Get a free quote today.

References:

  1. Retrieved from: https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/dog-care/common-dog-behavior-issues/separation-anxiety
  2. Vormbrock JK, Grossberg JM. Cardiovascular effects of human-pet dog interactions. J Behav Med. 1988 Oct;11(5):509-17. doi: 10.1007/BF00844843. PMID: 3236382. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/3236382/
  3. Lindig, A. M., McGreevy, P. D., & Crean, A. J. (2020). Musical Dogs: A Review of the Influence of Auditory Enrichment on Canine Health and Behavior. Animals : an open access journal from MDPI10(1), 127. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10010127
  4. Laboratory of Animal Behavior, Physiology and Welfare, Retrieved from: https://www.depts.ttu.edu/animalwelfare/Research/Pheromones/dog.php