Resembling humans, animals too go through various mental illnesses. In fact, a study revealed that an estimated 50% of pets suffer from psychological ailments such as fear, anxiety, and stress.
Sadly, the dog we have at home who we proudly introduce as our second child does not possess the virtue of verbal communication. So, how will we know if it is suffering from a mental illness?
To be honest, literacy rate regarding dog behavior is very low among pet parents across all territories. A majority of pet owners do not even realize the alarming signs of anxiety when their pet is restless, or feels uneasy about something. It is important to keep in mind that anxiety, if left untreated, your dog may develop behavioral issues like destructiveness and fear biting.
Therefore, we are celebrating Dog Anxiety Awareness Week from May 02, 2021, to May 08, 2021, to bring awareness among pet owners about the mental well-being of their beloved fur animals. The very motive of this special event is to help you develop a better understanding of the nervous-breakdown in your dog so that you can play the role of a savior for your animal companion from the stressful condition they might be in.
WHAT IS ANXIETY IN DOGS?
Anxiety is a mental state which is the result of a neuro-chemical reaction in the dog’s brain. Sudden change in the living environment, being left alone, trauma in the past, medical conditions, and noises like loudspeaker or fireworks are the primary reasons for dog anxiety. Sometimes different dog breeds display different kinds of anxiety-related behavior. Like, Lagotto Romagnolos and Wheaten terriers are very sensitive towards loud noise.
It is imperative to recognize the anxiety early so that you can work towards it before it turns out to be harmful for both you and your dog.
Here is the list of signs of anxiety in dogs:
- Avoiding eye contact
- Barking or howling
- Loss of appetite
- Frequent urination
- Chewing or destroying things
- Ears pinned back
- Dilated pupils
- Shaking and Shedding
- Sleeping more or less than normal
PREVENTION AND CURE
Once you figure out the reasons along with the signs of your dog’s stressed behavior, it is vital to understand how you can provide them with much-needed support during this difficult stage of their life that may eventually help them get out of it.
1. Be Sympathetic
Let your pet be at the place they feel safe. Never try to force your love or tenderness on your pet. Give them their space and allow them to come to you for any support they require. Provide your dog with a quiet and comfortable sleeping area. This will definitely calm his nerves and relieve his restless mind.
2. Hold on To Them
When your dog is not in a good mental state, it is unlikely to be at his best behavior. This will not recover from such a condition overnight and will not start having fun with you the next morning. They need your time and patience to get back to their normal physical and psychological behavior.
3. Regular Workout
Exercise encourages the production of serotonin that is a chemical which is known to be a mood stabilizer. It also helps to discard the excessive energy along with the stress that leads to anxiety. Working out with your dog will allow you to spend time together, and it will tire your dog at the same time before you leave them.
Playing an outdoor game or going for a walk with your dog will have them your physical contact and talking to them will definitely prove beneficial to them during the stressful condition. And, of course, like humans, exercise can help relieve stress.
4. Your Magical Touch
During your dog’s unstable mental condition, a touch from you may give them a soothing effect. If you recognize that the dog is feeling anxious, try to provide them with relief by picking them up or cuddle with them. You can even give them a message.
Anxiety leads to muscle tension and massage therapy is the best way to reduce tension. Performing this therapy at regular intervals may help you recognize the place in your dog’s body where he holds its stress so that you can work on the particular part of the body more.
5. Play Music
We all have experienced the power of music in our lives. We tend to listen to it while driving or when we are at home. Similarly, music is capable of providing the calming effect to your dog as well. Additionally, it can also help block the outside noise that causes anxiety to your dog. Try to leave the music on when the dog is alone at home. This will reduce the chances of separation anxiety.
6. Avoid Triggers
Once you realize the reasons leading to anxiety in your dog, try to avoid such circumstances occurring in the first place. This may sound very simple, but it is indeed very effective if followed actively. In case you are in a situation that may trigger anxiety in your dog, try to distract your dog with a treat before they react and turn into a behavior that causes stress.
There are a few products available on the market that is helpful in the treatment of anxiety in dogs. These behavioral treatments are more than handy when dealing with anxiety, stress, fear, and aggression in dogs.
- DAP Collar: This collar contains pheromone which is a naturally occurring chemical secreted by animals that influence the social behavior of other members of their species, hence dog pheromone will affect dogs. There is a type of pheromone that is responsible for causing the calming effect in dogs. It also helps reduce stress during thunderstorms, fireworks, or when they are in a new environment.
- DAP Spray: This product is made from the same formula as the DAP Collar, however, it is available in the form of a spray.
- Anxitane Chewable Tablets: This product contains a pure synthetic form of a substance known as L-Theanine. It is an amino acid which is found in green tea leaves and known to keep pets calm and relaxed during stressful conditions.
8. Consult the Expert
Before deciding on any of the above treatments, seek professional advice from your veterinarian. Do not leave it too late as the unstable mental illness may severely damage your dog’s health and lead to repercussions that can be very hard to overcome.
We appeal to all pet parents to mark their calendars for the Dog Anxiety Week and come together to contribute towards the mental well-being of your beloved furry friend.