Anxiety in Dogs

Causes Of Fear And Anxiety In Dogs And Cats. How to Help Leave a comment

Cats and dogs are lovable creatures.  They easily develop bonds with human beings. This is why; they are kept as pets all around the globe. Just like humans, dogs and cats also undergo fear and anxiety. There are a number of reasons behind these two conditions in dogs. Many owners ask about the “Causes of fear and anxiety in dogs” and all related questions.

Recommended Read: Top 5 Best Anxiety Vests for Dogs 2021 Review

In this blog, we are going to discuss the important causes of fear and anxiety in dogs under the light of scientific literature and general field experience.

*Discloser: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning, I get a commission if you decide to make a purchase through one of my links, at no cost to you.

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Why Is My Pet Anxious And Scared?

Your beloved pet can become anxious and scared due to a number of reasons. The most important reason is the disruption in their routine which includes a change in the environment, the arrival of new pets or people, abrupt change in diet, due to any kind of underlying medical conditions.

Out of all these conditions, separation-induced anxiety/stress is very common in dogs and cats. This kind of anxiety occurs, when you leave your pet home alone for a longer period of time and don’t spend time hanging out with him.

Note: Your pet may show fear or anxiety if that is undergoing any treatment or taking medication.

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What Are Important Signs Of Anxiety And Fear In Pets?

Anxious dogs and cats show a variety of signs. Here, we have summarized a few key signs below:

  1. The anxious dog/cat will show destructive behavior when left home alone.
  2. Defecation and urination at random places
  3. Trying to stop the owner leaving the home
  4. Barking or howling
  5. Chewing on inanimate objects
  6. Dilated pupils and excessive grooming
  7. Trembling, drooling and panting
  8. Raised hair on the back of the neck
  9. Pacing
  10. Whining or whimpering

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What Are Common Causes Of Anxiety In Dogs And Cats?

The most important and prime cause of anxiety in dogs and cats is “Separation from their owners and the people with whom they are attached.  This type of anxiety is known as “Separation anxiety.

Other important causes of anxiety in dogs and cats include the following enlisted reasons:

  1. Anxiety induced due to unfamiliar places or people
  2. Noise-associated anxiety (This can occur in your pet due to annoying or screaming noises such as fireworks, vehicle, machinery, and guns)
  3. Travel anxiety (This is also very common in those pets which accompany their owners to long drives/travels). Such kind of anxiety can lead to serious consequences in your beloved canine or feline friend.
  4. Clinic-associated anxiety (This kind of anxiety occurs when your dog/cat visits the hospital or undergoes any treatment procedure.
  5. Age related brain degeneration
  6. Lack of proper socialization in early life
  7. Other types of anxiety include storm phobia, exposure to any infection/disease, encounter with new pets/feeding competition and brooding kennels.

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How You Can Manage Noise Anxiety In Your Pet?

There are several ways that can help in managing anxiety in pets.  Here we have summarized some important ways in detail.

  • Fight the fear

This is all about the training of your pet against fear. First of all, you need to figure out that which noise induces anxiety in your pet. After finding that sound/audio, play at low volume and make your dog habitual to get used to it. Reward your dog with a special treat due to showing calm behavior. With the passage of time, increase the volume accordingly. Soon, your dog will accept that sound and won’t become anxious/stressed afterward.

Note Such training needs consistency, patience, and proper indulgence of owner and pet.

  • Distract your pet:

This is the best way to divert the focus of the pet away from the scary sound that causes anxiety in him. Play a piece of cool music that your pet loves or distract them with the game of tug or fetch.

  • Anti-anxiety medications:

There are several medications that can help in managing the anxiety in your pets. You can talk to your vet in this regard. Keep in mind that, these medications can’t be the permanent solution to deal with anxiety in pets.

What Is The Treatment For Your Pet’s Anxiety And Fear?

This is clear that treatment of anxiety and fear in pets is difficult but not possible. There is a number of exercises available which help in the significant reduction of anxiety or fear. You can consult an animal behaviorist in this regard. 

Spend maximum time with your anxious pets and give them proper attention. Don’t react to the anxiety or fear signs that your pet is showing. Take it normally, so that your dog should feel comfortable that everything is pretty fine.

Keep your pet engage in various physical and mental activities. Manage toys and other mental enrichment activities for your pet. Remember, the physical and mental stimulation of pets is a crucial part of anxiety and fear treatment in pets.

You can also use various anxiety or fear relieving medications that give good results. But keep in mind that, your pet can become addicted to these drugs. So, try to choose a natural way to calm your beloved pet.

In addition to that, desensitization and counterconditioning can also help your pet stay calm. These are wonderful methods to treat fear in pets. You can consult a certified animal behaviorist in this regard.

Thundershirt- An artificial hug: This is a kind of protective shirt that generates gentle pressure and makes your pet feeling secure during fireworks, thunderstorms, etc. Additionally, this doesn’t contain any kind of drug or pheromones. It just helps to calm an anxious and frightened dog or cat.

Fear Of Thunderstorms In Dogs And Cats

Thunder phobia in cats and dogs is known as “Astrophobia”. There are a number of reasons behind this.  According to animal behaviorists, the past experiences and personalities of dogs are major reasons that dogs and cats show fear and anxiety to thunderstorms. 

All along with that, dogs and cats have strong senses; they can sense the abrupt change in barometric pressure even before the arrival of thunderstorms and become frightful.

Hence, thunder-associated anxiety and fear are commonly seen in dogs and cats.

As discussed earlier, a thunderstorm–induced fear can only be managed by creating a safe place for your pet when he feels scared. Additionally, train him to bear the thunderstorm noise by desensitizing your dog/cat to the sounds of thunder.

Last but not least, you can take help from your vet in this regard. Provide your dog and cat and stress-free, relaxing environment to keep them happy and lively.

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Conclusion


Anxiety and fear are two common things that can be seen in pets. There are several triggers that cause these two conditions in cats and dogs. For example, separation from the owner or beloved member, medication-associated anxiety, fear of the sounds of thunderstorms and fireworks.

Being a responsible owner, this is your duty to figure out the actual cause of anxiety and fear in your dog. Try to provide a stress-free and enriched environment to your pet.  Spend a healthy amount of time with your anxious dog and cat and engage them in physical and mental exercises.

You can use various anti-anxiety medications but only after consulting a registered veterinary practitioner. Keep in mind; exercises are the natural ways to calm the pets without any side effects afterward.

References

Dreschel, N.A., 2010. The effects of fear and anxiety on health and lifespan in pet dogs. Applied Animal Behaviour Science125(3-4), pp.157-162.

Landsberg, G.M., Mougeot, I., Kelly, S. and Milgram, N.W., 2015. Assessment of noise-induced fear and anxiety in dogs: modification by a novel fish hydrolysate supplemented diet. Journal of Veterinary Behavior10(5), pp.391-398.

Blackwell, E.J., Bradshaw, J.W. and Casey, R.A., 2013. Fear responses to noises in domestic dogs: Prevalence, risk factors and co-occurrence with other fear related behaviour. Applied Animal Behaviour Science145(1-2), pp.15-25.

Hargrave, C., 2015. Anxiety, fear, frustration and stress in cats and dogs—Implications for the welfare of companion animals and practice finances. Companion Animal20(3), pp.136-141.

Landsberg, G.M., DePorter, T. and Araujo, J.A., 2011. Clinical signs and management of anxiety, sleeplessness, and cognitive dysfunction in the senior pet. Veterinary Clinics: Small Animal Practice41(3), pp.565-590.

Gerrard, E., 2016. Firework and noise phobias: keeping pets calm.

Flannigan, G. and Dodman, N.H., 2001. Risk factors and behaviors associated with separation anxiety in dogs. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association219(4), pp.460-466.

Flannigan, G. and Dodman, N.H., 2001. Risk factors and behaviors associated with separation anxiety in dogs. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association219(4), pp.460-466.

Parthasarathy, V. and Crowell-Davis, S.L., 2006. Relationship between attachment to owners and separation anxiety in pet dogs (Canis lupus familiaris). Journal of Veterinary Behavior1(3), pp.109-120.

Herron, M.E., Lord, L.K. and Husseini, S.E., 2014. Effects of preadoption counseling on the prevention of separation anxiety in newly adopted shelter dogs. Journal of Veterinary Behavior9(1), pp.13-21.

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