When you think of stress, you probably think of work pressure, financial strain, endless traffic and a myriad of other things. What likely doesn’t come to mind, however, is your dog and dog stress. But it should! While dogs and stress don’t seem like a common pair, believe it or not, dogs can suffer from stress just like you. Although the causes of stress in dogs are different from that of humans, stress of any kind can negatively impact health and well being no matter what the species.
Unfortunately, unlike us humans, dogs can’t rely on happy hour or retail therapy to cure their dog stress. That’s why it’s your job as a pet owner to recognize your dog is stressed, figure out what’s triggering it, and how to best treat the root cause.
Signs Your Dog Is Suffering From Stress
In order to help your dog cope with stress, you need to know the signs and symptoms of stress. In dogs, stress often manifests itself in physical ways, such as changes in body language, behavior, or bathroom habits. Here are some telltale signs your dog might be suffering from stress:
- Unexplained digestive issues, such as diarrhea or constipation
- Dilated pupils
- Decrease in appetite
- Aggressive behavior
- Noticeable respiratory changes such as excessive panting and shallow breathing
- Increased shedding
- Lack of bladder or bowel control
- Excessive barking
Once you’ve identified you have a stressed dog on your hands, the next step is figuring out what’s causing your dog to feel that way. While this may take some detective work on your part, know that there are several common causes of stress in dogs. From loud noises to traveling or staying alone, dogs can feel stressed for a number of different reasons. Some possible causes are:
- Change in routine
- Physical restraint
- Unwanted interactions
So what can you do to help your stressed dog? Plenty of things! For starters, if you suspect your dog is suffering from stress, an appointment with a veterinarian is recommended. A veterinarian can help determine if the symptoms you’re noticing are, in fact, due to stress or if there is some underlying medical condition at play. He or she will also be able to recommend tips to help lower your dog’s stress levels.
While a visit to your local animal hospital is essential, there are other steps you can take to help relax your dog and keep stress at bay.
Keep your dog active
Spending time with your pet and taking it for daily walks and exercise is crucial to their well being. Physical activity of any kind is an excellent stress reliever for dogs as is mental stimulation, such as with toys and puzzles.
Make Your Home a Haven
As a pet owner, you can’t control the outside world and all of the potential stress inducers your dog might encounter on a daily basis, but what you can control is the environment inside your home. Your home should be your pet’s sanctuary, a place of peace and refuge where your dog feels at ease. Remove any elements that might stress your dog out and instead fill it with comforting items such as a cozy dog bed, a safety blanket, and plenty of toys.
Invest in Calming Products
For extra prevention against dog stress, consider using a calming product on your dog. There are numerous products available that are designed specifically to help treat your dog’s stress and make them feel more calm. From stress-relieving essential oils to specialty formulated treats and even medications, there’s bound to be a calming product that’s suited for your dog’s needs.
While occasional stress is to be expected, it should be managed and minimized as best as possible; otherwise, long-term, repeated stress can take a significant toll on your dog’s health.
At Hillside Animal Hospital, we recognize the discomfort and anxiety that dogs can experience by a visit to the vet – that’s why we offer house calls, a mobile service where we come to you to minimize stress on your pet. For more information about our stress-free, mobile services call 480-391-7297.