The week of June 24-30 is Pet Anxiety Awareness Week, and as pet parents, we are usually empathetic to our dogs’ moods and some of us can even anticipate our dogs’ needs.
If you’re new to dog ownership or if you have recently adopted a dog and you aren’t in touch with her moods and needs yet, we would like to share some tips on how to recognize signs of stress in your dog. We also want to provide tips on how to alleviate your dogs’ stress when you notice it.
Why is my dog acting like this (fill in the blank)? It could be stress or anxiety!
- Is your dog a “Velcro dog”? This may be flattering, but if your dog gets anxious if you’re out of his sight for a moment he may be exhibiting signs of stress and separation anxiety.
- Does your dog bark, whine and howl all day while you’re away? If your neighbors complain that your dog barks nonstop while you’re away, that is a sign of stress and anxiety.
- Do you come home to chewed shoes, clawed up doors or shredded furniture or carpets? This could be a sign of boredom, but it could also be a sign of separation anxiety and stress.
- Is your dog licking his paws or other body parts to the point her fur is gone and her skin is raw? Licking can be a sign of stress or a sign of an allergy.
- Is your dog’s appetite waning? If you notice your dog isn’t eating and appears lethargic even when you’re home, it could be stress.
No pet parent wants to see his or her dog suffer from separation anxiety or stress when they’re left home alone. It is a fact of life for many pet parents, though, that their dogs will be left home alone because the pet parent has to work, run errands or take care of family needs.
How can you alleviate your dog’s separation anxiety?
The first step is to check with your veterinarian to make certain it is stress and not some underlying health issue. When you have a dog health care policy, you can alleviate some of your stress with vet bills, and it is important your veterinarian understands what is going on with your dog.
Here are some ways to alleviate your dog’s stress, after you have had any health issues ruled out:
- Hire a pet sitter. A pet sitter is a great option for many pet parents because their dog will not have to be alone. If you don’t want to hire a pet sitter, consider hiring a dog walker. A dog walker can visit once or twice a day, take your dog for a long walk and provide company. A friend or family member may be able to visit your dog or take him to their house so the dog is not alone.
- Turn on the television or radio. Perhaps your dog is being bothered by outside sounds (neighbors talking, lawns being mowed, other dogs barking) and turning on some sound in the house could keep your dog company and alleviate his stress from outside noises.
- Take your dog to a doggy daycare. He may benefit from being around other dogs and will also benefit from the exercise he gets while playing with other dogs.
- Work with your dog on ways to alleviate his stress and separation anxiety. Start by leaving him for brief periods of time – five minutes, for example. Make the same motions you’d make if you left for the entire day. Grab your coffee, keys, etc. give him a hug and a calm good-bye. Get in your car and leave the driveway. Listen outside the door for his barking. Once he calms down, “come home” and reward him with high-quality treats and praise for being calm. Practice this until you can leave for extended periods of time.
- Pamper her when you’re home. If you come home from work and are too busy to pay any attention to your dog, that could lead to her stress. When you get home, try to set aside a bit of time – even ten minutes – to focus all of your attention on your dog. Take her for a walk. Pet her. Roll around and play with her. Give her your undivided attention.
- Ask your veterinarian if your dog needs medication to help calm him down. Some dogs simply won’t calm down and medications – there may be herbal or organic remedies you can try – will help. You may want to use a pheromone spray or a calming collar to help him relax.
- Give your dog a puzzle food toy to keep her occupied. These toys reward your pup for “solving” the puzzle by dispensing food. A puzzle toy will keep her occupied and give her a treat – it’s a win-win.
No pet parent wants to feel their dog is alone and lonely and stressed out. Pet Anxiety Awareness Week is an ideal time to look for solutions to your dog’s anxiety. Your veterinarian is your best first line of defense and solutions!
We know accidents and illnesses happen to all pets. PetFirst is here for every canine (and cat!), from a small cold to stress and too big health problems alike.
Pet insurance provides peace of mind that if your pet gets sick or injured you don’t have to think twice about the financial aspect and you can just focus on your pet’s care.
You can get a quote today by visiting our website or by calling our team at 855-270-7387 (option 1).