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What Causes Anxiety in Dogs?

The Triggers of Separation Anxiety and Other Anxieties in Dogs

By Gina Carey. November 21, 2012 | See Comments

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What Causes Anxiety in Dogs?

Like people, dogs can differ in what triggers their anxiety, and respond to those triggers in a variety of ways. Here is a list of the most common causes of anxiety in dogs.

Dogs experience anxiety for a number of reasons. The three most common types of dog anxiety are caused by separation from their owners, or separation anxiety; noises from thunderstorms, fireworks, construction sites, or even vacuum cleaners; and social situations involving other humans or animals. So why do some dogs react to these situations with stress while others handle them with ease?

This is a question pet parents must get to the root of if their dog is showing symptoms of anxiety in order to treat it. The most common causes of canine anxiety include:

Genetic Disposition

Some dog breeds are more prone to anxiety than others. Generally, high energy, intelligent dogs have a greater propensity to anxiety. Dog breeds that are most disposed to canine anxiety include: Bernese Mountain dogs, Basset Hounds, Cocker Spaniels, German Shepherds, Dalmatians, Great Pyrenees, Pekingese, Siberian Huskies, Standard Poodles, and some Terrier breeds.

Medical Issues

Anxiety can be a symptom of other medical issues. Dogs with illnesses such as hypothyroidism, encephalitis, thyrotoxicosis, hearing loss, and pre-diabetes may experience anxiety. Aging dogs can also develop anxiety if changes in their bodies are associated with the nervous system. And toxic conditions like lead poisoning can also bring on behavioral changes in dogs. No matter what the medical issue, it is important to seek out medical attention from a veterinarian. Otherwise, both the condition and stress will worsen.

Puppy Socialization

Puppies deprived of key social and environmental experiences during the first few months of life can become habitually fearful. And dogs that are taken away from their mothers too soon (generally, before eight weeks), can develop social anxiety. This will make it difficult for them to know how to behave around other animals and humans.

Past Trauma

Dogs can develop fears at any time, though they are most prone to develop phobias when they are 1-3 years old. Incidents such as abandonment, abuse, and other mistreatment can cause anxiety down the line.

No matter the cause, anxiety strains your dog’s mental and physical health. If symptoms of anxiety occur, pet owners must determine the cause in order to seek out the proper course of treatment. Pet trainers and veterinarians can help figure out why anxiety occurs, and the best ways to desensitize or treat dogs.

More on Dog Anxieties

How to Quiet a Barking Dachshund
Training Your Dog to Load into Your Car

This information is for informational purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the professional advice of, or diagnosis or treatment by, your veterinarian with respect to your pet. It has, however, been verified by a licensed veterinarian for accuracy.

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