How to care for dogs with anxiety

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Like humans, dogs suffer from anxiety. All breeds are susceptible to this mental complication. Anxiety can result in multiple behavioral problems. As a dog owner, you must treat your anxious pet. It is your responsibility to help it live a happy life with canine anxiety.

Multiple reasons

Dogs suffer from canine anxiety due to multiple causes. The frequent reasons are fear, aging, and separation. Fear comes from strange people and loud noises. Abnormal environments and even out of the ordinary attire can trigger anxiety attacks in dogs. Wood floors are a major cause for dog anxiety. Separation anxiety happens when dogs are separated from family members or left alone. This gets exhibited in abnormal behaviors like defecating everywhere inside the house and destroying furniture. Anxious dogs continuously bark. Older dogs suffer from CDS or cognitive dysfunction syndrome. This is similar to Alzheimer’s disease which happens in humans. Aging anxiety happens in senior dogs.

Symptoms

Dogs show multiple anxiety symptoms like aggression, drooling, destructive behavior, excess barking, restlessness, urinating or defecating everywhere within the house, panting, depression, pacing, or repetitive behaviors. Among all these the worst is aggression. This is dangerous to you and your family.

Take your dog to a veterinarian if it shows any or all of these symptoms. The medical professional will help you to understand the causes of such abnormal behaviors. A veterinarian will also eliminate any medical cause for such behavior. Additionally, the vet will also prescribe a proper treatment plan. As a number of factors coalesce to form anxiety, the surest way to treat is through a blend of preventative strategies and training. The vet may also offer medications if they are needed.

Treatment

As a dog owner, you can adopt a number of training strategies to treat anxiety. Counterconditioning is one such method. The aim is to change your dog’s usual response to anxiety-inducing stimuli like substituting the aggressive behavior with desirable behavior like focusing on the owner or sitting quietly. Desensitization is also another excellent strategy. You can gradually introduce your dog to the anxiety source. This is done in small increments. Rewarding positive behavior and repeated exposure will help in managing canine anxiety. If you are unable to do these on your own, contact professional dog trainers to achieve these outcomes.

If your dog suffers from major anxiety, then your veterinarian could recommend medications. Antidepressants can be prescribed for dogs suffering from extreme anxiety. If your dog is afraid of fireworks or thunderstorms, then the vet may prescribe medication like benzodiazepine in combination with an anti-depressant so that the canine can manage stress. Senior dogs suffering from CDS may benefit from intake of a selegiline, a drug known to reduce CDS symptoms. The same drug is used to treat chronic anxiety.

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