Dog Stressed? – Spot The Signs And De-stress The Dog!

Noticing a change in your dog’s behavior recently? Are they pacing, crying or acting anxious more than usual? If so, then your dog may be suffering from stress! But what can you do about it? If you’re concerned your dog may be feeling stressed then keep reading to spot the signs and learn how to combat the anxious itch.

By Allison Salonko.

Allison is a Veterinary Technician in the state of Indiana. She graduated from International Business College and Vet Tech Institute of Indianapolis with a degree in Animal Science and Technology in 2011.

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What Are The Signs Of Stress In A Dog?

Typically, stress implies a feeling of strain or pressure that results in a profound effect on mood, sleep and overall happiness.

Many of us may be familiar with the symptoms of stress in themselves or other people, but aren’t entirely sure when it comes to their own dogs.

When a dog is stressed, they will typically display these signals:

Pacing or shaking

Shaking can be a full body tremble or the typical shaking that we associate after a dog has a bath.

When dogs are feeling stressed, trembling or “shaking it off” frequently are common.

Pacing is seen often when they are under pressure as they are restless and trying to quell that feeling.

Panting

Panting is a sign of being hot, excited or even stressed. If your dog is in a new place, not hot or exerting themselves and they are panting, then it may be a sign that your pet is stressed.

Yawning, drooling or lip licking

It is not unusual for dogs that are experiencing stress to display any of these behaviors. The way to tell the difference between a sleepy yawn and a stressed yawn is that the stressed type is often more prolonged.

Changes in body language

This can mean their posture, eyes or ear position.

When dogs are stressed, they often have larger eyes, pinned back ears and cower or sit with their tail between their legs.

Shedding

It is very common for stressed pets to shed more than normal.

The veterinary community often calls it “blowing their coat.”

Potty accidents

It’s not unusual at all for a nervous dog to urinate or defecate when afraid or stressed.

Veterinary clinics will tell you that it’s the main reason they never have carpet or rugs.

Hiding

Dogs that are stressed will do their best to hide or find a place where they feel more secure.

This is usually underneath something, in a corner or a dark area.

Aggression

One of the more severe reactions to stress is for a dog to become aggressive.

This is typically out of fear and not a desire to be mean.

What Are The Types Of Stress In dogs?

There are essentially two types of stress that a dog will experience: acute or chronic.

Acute stress

Acute implies that the stress just came up and has not been there for long.

Chronic stress

When a dog is under chronic stress because of a living situation or medical condition this means they experience the issue daily.

Why Is My Dog Having Chronic Stress?

Dogs that are chronically stressed often feel that way due to either an underlying medical condition or a chronic one that they may or may not be undergoing treatment for.

This can be because of the stress of going to the vet frequently, the dislike of being medicated daily or just general pain and discomfort associated with the condition or their age.

Other reasons for chronic stress is an issue at home.

Sometimes the dog doesn’t like a person or other animal that they live with and other times it is the owner’s schedule that causes problems.

When a dog is left alone for too long, they can become anxious and stressed, resulting in unwanted behaviors.

Stress Shedding In Dogs – Why Does It Happen?

When a dog is feeling stressed, they release a natural chemical called epinephrine (aka adrenaline) which then stimulates your dog’s fur to fall out.

This is very common and not at all concerning, especially when they go to the vet!

Where Do Dogs Hold Their Tension?

Just like humans, dogs can carry their stress and tension in a certain part of the body, typically fatiguing those muscles and causing pain and discomfort.

Most pets hold that tension in their neck, shoulders and muzzle.

This tension can be from a genetic posture trait or because of stress.

Is My Dog Stressed? Let’s Take The Quiz!

1) Does your dog appear relaxed when being touched or petted? Even areas of the body like the face or paws? YES or NO

2) Is your dog acting more clingy than usual? YES or NO

3) Are they hiding or seeking out solitary spaces? YES or NO

4) Do you see your dog pacing, shaking or acting anxious when you are getting ready to leave the house?

5) Is your dog’s appetite the same? YES or NO

6) Is your dog’s typical habits and daily behaviors the same? YES or NO

7) Has your dog been seen and examined by a veterinarian in the last 12 months? YES or NO

If you answered YES to at least 3 or more of these questions then it would be warranted to take a visit to the veterinarian or assess your dog’s routine and environment for any changes that could be affecting them emotionally.

How To Calm A Stressed Dog

As the pet parent of the dog, it is important that you are able to recognize your dog’s normal behavior so that we can differentiate those stress signs from their typical demeanor.

From there, you should follow tips to help calm your stressed dog.

Remove Them From The Situation (If Possible)

Sometimes stress is unavoidable, like going to the doctor or experiencing an illness or injury.

If it is possible to remove the stressor that is upsetting your dog, then certainly do so.

Find a quiet place for them to de-stress and regroup.

Do your best not to overly coddle them – as you do not want to praise them for feeling fearful and stressed.

If you want to give them treats or attention then do so by making them work for it.

Using commands helps to keep your dog’s focus on you and distracts them from the stressor.

Exercise!

Activity is good for everyone involved and just like most of us have already heard, exercise is an excellent stress reducer.

Natural Stress Relief For Dogs

There are several ways to manage and reduce stress in dogs naturally. Many professionals recommend the use of canine specific hormones like Adaptil.

Incorporating an oil diffuser with relaxing scents like lavender can be helpful as well, not to mention they smell great!

Many owners have been turning to CBD use for their canines and themselves. CBD works with the body’s natural cannabinoids to reduce stress and create emotional balance.

Music is also recommended for dogs that are stressed, especially if the anxiety spikes when the owner leaves the house.

Handling Stress And Anxiety In Dogs

Stress is normal and not always a bad thing.

It can prompt our dog’s to avoid potentially dangerous situations, however, it’s important that we understand and recognize the signs of a stressed out pup.

Photo by Claudio.

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