Like humans, many dogs experience anxiety. This is a normal emotion, but it can also adversely affect your dog’s wellbeing. There are many causes for anxiety in pets, but the most common are fear of the unknown, and separation from a loved one.
Fear of the unknown
This type of anxiety can be triggered by unfamiliar people, sounds, or environments. These anxieties typically don’t last very long after onset.
An important type of anxiety in this category is noise anxiety, one which can be triggered during Fourth of July celebrations. This anxiety is characterized by a fear of loud noises, like gunshots, fireworks, or thunderstorms. Symptoms include salivation, trembling, destruction of property, hiding, barking, pacing, panting, and urinating/defecating in inappropriate locations. The best way to prevent this type of anxiety is to protect your pet from these noises (which means placing them in a safe, enclosed room during the Fourth of July, away from fireworks and other anxiety-provoking noises).
This type of anxiety is triggered when the affected animal is left alone by a family member with which they have formed a strong attachment. Dogs suffering from separation anxiety typically show symptoms of salivation, trembling, destruction of property, barking, pacing, panting, and urinating/defecating in inappropriate locations.
There are many ways to transition your pet into a more healthy mindset when you leave them behind. First, it’s important not to engage in emotional greetings or departures. Don’t show your pet that your departure is different than any other portion of the day. Give your dog a distraction a few minutes before you leave, like a food puzzle or favorite toy. Your pet may benefit from a pet sitter or doggie daycare to decrease the amount of time it spends alone, but getting another dog as a companion for your anxious pet is almost never successful.
If your pet is experiencing anxiety of any type, consult with your veterinarian to determine a treatment plan to decrease the anxiety your pet feels. They can rule out any other medical conditions that could be causing your pet’s anxiety, give you tips about training your pet to decrease anxiety, and provide medication if they feel your pet would benefit.