Recognizing and Combating Your Dog Anxiety: Practical Steps to Take – Mushy Beds

Recognizing and Combating Your Dog Anxiety: Practical Steps to Take

Recognizing and Combating Your Dog Anxiety: Practical Steps to Take

Our canine friends have more in common with us as humans than we may realize. For example, many dogs experience anxiety at some point in their life. The experience can manifest in different ways for different breeds and even for different individual dogs. However, the fact that your dog might experience dog anxiety at some point in their life is something that you ought to know a little bit about. If the anxiety of any kind (even separation anxiety) flares up in your dog, you will want to know what you can do for them to make things better.

How Does Anxiety Affect Dogs Long Term?

There are numerous negative impacts that long-term dog anxiety can have on your dog. If your dog is subjected to lengthy and untreated bouts of anxiety, he or she may suffer additional health consequences. Some of those consequences may include:

  • Urinary tract infections (UTIs)
  • Weakened immune system
  • High blood pressure
  • Mood changes
  • Stomach ulcers
  • and more

These are all potential issues that your dog could face, which could shorten its lifespan and make its life more painful and challenging in general. The longer these issues go untreated, the more at risk your pup is for chronic anxiety .

If you feel that your dog is already experiencing some level of anxiety, you should speak with your veterinarian about it. He or she may be able to prescribe certain medications that can ease some dog anxiety. Additionally, your veterinarian might have some other recommendations about steps you can take to make it easier for your dog to manage their anxiety.

A Golden Retriever hiding under the white sheet.

Signs of Dog Anxiety

Unfortunately, dogs cannot speak to us in a human language. Thus, we must rely on picking up cues and signals from our dogs about what is going on with them health-wise. There are some tell-tell signs of dog anxiety in dogs that show up with most breeds. They include the following:

Whining or barking

Obviously, barking from time to time is something completely normal that dogs do. However, if you notice that your dog seems to whine and/or bark more frequently than usual, they may be trying to tell you that they are stressed. It is particularly telling if they are whining or barking when there is no other logical reason why they might do so.

Changes to the eyes or ears

Similar to humans, dogs get dilated pupils and blink more rapidly when they are stressed than when they are not. If you notice your dog's pupils are dilated, they might be experiencing stress. Also, check on their ears. If you notice that their ears are pinned back against their head, this is often a sign of anxiety or fear.


Nervous dogs will sometimes shed in greater quantities than they usually would. If your dog is releasing fur into the air at a greater pace than normal, then you may be witnessing its body's reaction to stress and anxiety. Keep in mind that different breeds of dogs shed at different rates, so don't forget to account for this when considering the potential source of your dog's shedding.

Excessive Panting

It is normal for a dog that is overheated to pant. This is how their body regulates temperature. However, it is not normal for your dog to pant when they are not in an overly hot environment. If they are panting anyway, then they might be stressed out.

Hiding Behavior

Some dogs exhibit dog anxiety by trying to hide behind their owners when they are scared or stressed out. This might be something that they do temporarily (like when someone outside of the family enters the house), or it could be something that they do more frequently. If your dog is constantly hiding behind you, then there is probably something going on internally with them that you should have checked out.

A small white dog lies on a bed in a bedroom at home.

What are Ways to Ease Anxiety and Stress?

If you notice any of the above behaviors, or if you suspect that your dog is dealing with high anxiety at any time, you will surely want to know what you can do to help. The American Kennel Club (AKC) recommends always beginning by speaking with your veterinarian about dog anxiety:

The best way to treat anxiety is to talk with your veterinarian. Your veterinarian can help you identify the type of anxiety your dog suffers from and the possible causes and triggers. Your veterinarian will also be able to help you determine if the anxiety is simply situational or if it is becoming an overwhelming issue for your dog.

On top of speaking with your veterinarian, you can also work with your dog directly to try to soothe some of the symptoms of anxiety that it may be experiencing at this time.

You might try desensitizing your dog to an experience that gives them anxiety. For example, if your dog gets easily stressed out by meeting other dogs, you might consider introducing your dog to other dogs only for a few moments. Your dog may still express some anxiety about the experience, but you can slowly condition them to not be as nervous or afraid. If you continue to take this approach with your dog over time, then you may see a complete elimination of the nervous response from them altogether.

The other thing that you can do is speak to your veterinarian about prescription medications for your dog. Your veterinarian can prescribe the medications that your dog needs to take some of the tension out of its life. If you do this, your dog may be able to get back to a more stable response to things that previously caused it a huge amount of stress. Keep that in mind as you work on providing your dog with the best possible chance at getting past its anxiety and on to better things.

Work with your dog on its anxiety issues so that you might help your dog avoid some of the long-term health consequences of all of that stress.

Golden retriever in the bedroom laying on a king-size bed.