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Has your dog been behaving strange? Perhaps he is depressed or overly anxious. Stress is more prevalent in dogs than you would have guessed. Worse yet, it can have a markedly negative impact on their health. Here are some common signs of anxiety and stress in dogs:
How to help your dog if he is stressed?
- Constipation, diarrhea, or some other digestive issue – Although these conditions are more commonly attributed to food intolerance or disease, gastrointestinal issues like constipation and diarrhea can also result from anxiety. Speak to the vet if the constipation or diarrhea is severe, particularly if it has lasted for more than a day or if your dog has bloody diarrhea. Blood in the stool or vomit could indicate a food borne illness.
- Lower appetite – Dogs do not go on diets or fasts like we do. It is extremely important to contact the vet if your pet loses his interest in food or stops eating all of a sudden. It could be due to some underlying condition (including anorexia) or stress, which can cause your dog to refuse to eat and reduce its food intake so much that it leads to a dramatic weight loss.
- Isolation – Dogs like their alone time every now and then. However, if your pup is constantly isolating himself from other people or pets, he may be suffering from a sickness or anxiety. Your vet can help you in identifying the cause of his strange behavior.
- Increased sleep – People who have had their pet for a while must have gotten accustomed to their sleeping patterns. Speak with the vet if you find your dog sleeping more than usual or if he seems excessively lethargic. Lethargy is a symptom of injury, sickness or trauma. It could also be symptomatic of a host of other conditions, including liver and heart problems, diabetes, diarrhea and dehydration, tumors, anemia, poisoning and hypothyroidism, among other conditions.
- Aggressive behavior towards other animals and people – Aggressive actions towards other people and animals is a sign of a sick or stressed dog. Consult the vet or a behaviorist before the problem gets any worse. Most of the aggressive signs are often accompanied by a fearful facial expression and body posture, as well as submissive behavior. Treatment for aggressive behavior focuses on behavior management methods that will help your dog with his anger and anxiety. Devices like muzzles can also be effective when the dog is not at home, with the treatment focusing primarily on preventing any injury to other animals, humans and to the dog himself.
Here are few tips to alleviate the stress and anxiety in your dog:
- Play/exercise with him regularly – Physical activities like playing fetch or walking around the block are great stress busters for dogs.
- Make a safe zone – Set apart a space in your home where your dog can escape to in the case of high-stress events like parties and thunderstorms. Provide him with a security blanket like a toy and visit him often. If it is possible, stay with him till the event has boiled over.
- Give him high quality dog food – The diet of your dog is an integral part of his well-being. Providing him with an imbalanced diet for his lifestyle and stage can lead to unforeseen repercussions that can cause stress and anxiety.