Ask Your Veterinarian For Advice
The doctor may have more ideas for behavior modification and can assess whether medication may also be needed.
“Not every dog needs anti-anxiety medication, but dogs that are in a horrible state of high anxiety will really benefit,” Sherman says. In severe cases, owners will keep their dogs on the medication for the whole season, while others give their dog medicine in the morning if there’s a chance of a storm later on.
A 2003 study by veterinarians at the University of Georgia found that 30 out of 32 dogs with storm phobia showed significant improvement when given medication combined with behavior modification and desensitization.
“We have our best luck with a management plan that includes changing some features in the environment, applying some behavior modification techniques, and often some anti-anxiety medication,” Sherman says. “Work with your veterinarian to come up with a treatment plan.”
Barbara L. Sherman, PhD, DVM, associate professor of veterinary behavior, North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine past-president, American College of Veterinary Behaviorists. Disclosure: Former consultant for Thundershirt.
Matt Peuser, DVM, veterinarian, Olathe Animal Hospital, Kansas.
Nicole Cottam, Behavior Service Coordinator, Tufts University Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine.
The Humane Society of the United States.
Dog Anxiety Vs Panic Attacks
So what about anxiety?
Anxiety comes when your dog is dreading a specific event or situation. The anticipated threat can be real or perceived.
An example is a dog showing signs of anxiety before a vet trip. They have picked up on the cues that they are going to the vet, and become anxious about the encounter. Some signs of anxiety in dogs include:
Eliminating inappropriately or involuntarily
Soliciting attention from their owners
Pulling ears back against their head with the head lowered and tail hanging down or tucked under the abdomen
Symptoms Of Panic Attacks
Panic attacks in canines can take several forms and your dog may react in various ways such as:
- Barking and aggression
- Excessive barking
- Excessive chewing of skin and coat
- Digging or other behavioral problems
Typically, panic attacks are short and should subside once the dog gets a bit of attention from you or he is calmed. Many of these symptoms may be caused by a medical condition, so the vet may require a series of tests to rule out physical problems.
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Calming An Anxious Dog With Supplements
Some dogs just dont respond to training. In cases like these, veterinarians may prescribe anti-anxiety medications or other medicines to help your dog settle down.
If you would prefer not to give your dog such medications, calming supplements might be the answer. Supplements such as Fortitude® Canine CSP provide vitamins, minerals and food supplements that support the nervous system and a calm dog.
With time, patience, training, exercise and perhaps calming supplements, you can calm your anxious dog and enjoy the special bond you share together.
Treatment For Canine Panic Disorder
Canine panic disorder which causes panic attacks in dogs is a behavioral issue which needs to be addressed as soon as the symptoms are initially observed. Furthermore, if your dog constantly panics, take a video of your dog while panicking and show it to your dogs veterinarian if occurrences become very frequent. However, early stages of canine panic disorders may be addressed at home by teaching your dog calmness and relaxation practices. Constant practice or calmness and relaxation before the onset of a panic attack might prevent dog panic attacks in the future.
Veterinarians may prescribe certain medications to prevent dog panic attacks. The most common drugs that veterinarians prescribe for dogs with canine panic disorder are alprazolam, panicolytic benzodiazepine, other benzodiazepine, clonazepam, gabapentin, gamma-aminobutyric acid and clonidine. However, it is not recommended that you provide any of these medications to your dog, without consulting a veterinarian. Medication together with relaxation practices are the treatments for canine panic disorder.
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Counter Conditioning And Desensitization
When used together, these behavior modification techniques are highly effective in reducing and treating travel anxiety:
- Counter conditioning teaches your dog that good things happen whenever theyre riding in the car. Over time, they learn to associate traveling with something positive instead of negative.
- Desensitization helps your dog get used to traveling. This technique involves slowly and carefully increasing their exposure to being in the car and taking trips.
For the best results, we recommend working with a certified behavior consultant or dog trainer. An experienced professional can provide you with effective and positive training techniques, and help you identify your dogs threshold for anxiety. Its extremely important to progress at your pets speed.
In The Winter Desensitize Your Dog To The Sounds Of A Storm
Play a CD of thunder recordings at low enough levels that don’t frighten your dog, while giving them treats or playing a game. Gradually increase the volume over the course of several months, stopping if your dog shows any signs of anxiety. The goal is to get your dog used to the sound of thunder, and associate it with good things, Peuser says.
Experts caution that desensitization can have limited success in an actual storm because you can only recreate the noise, and not the other factors that may be bothering the dog, such as the static electricity or changes in barometric pressure.
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Signs Of Anxiety In Dogs
As we begin to re-open, more and more pet parents are noticing anxiety in their dogs when they are left alone, particularly after being home together for an extended time. Separation anxiety is one of the most common forms of anxiety in dogs especially in breeds that are commonly working dogs and like to have their pack all in one place. Dogs that have gone through trauma or have been abandoned in the past are also more prone to experience increased abandonment anxiety.
In this blog, well dive deep into the topic of anxiety in dogs, what the symptoms are, and what you can do to help your dog feel secure.
What Breeds Are Prone To Anxiety
Dog anxiety is not unique to any particular breed, but there may be some breeds that are more prone to it. Any dog can develop anxiety, says Dr. Burch, who adds that dogs who are highly active, and/or working dogs that do not have a job may be particularly prone to developing anxiety. Examples of breeds that could fit into these categories include:
- German shepherd
- Border collie
Dogs of any breed can experience anxiety. As Bernal points out, A study conducted in Finland analyzing 264 breeds found that pet parents thought more than 70% displayed some form of anxiety. With anxiety being such a common issue for dogs, a multifaceted approach to treat it may be best.
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How To Stop A Dog Panic Attack
Actually, the dog may not usually show anxiety most of the time. However, once these panic attacks hit your dog, it may generally lead to more serious dog health problems. In order to prevent injury, here are some ways on how to stop a dog panic attack.
1. Stay Calm
Basically, as a pet owner, it is very important for you to stay calm during the onset of an attack. Primarily, a calm voice and an assertive behavior are helpful attitudes on how to stop a dog panic attack. You can allow your dog to hide anywhere, place it inside the kennel, or look for a quiet place where you can monitor the dog until the panic attack subsides.
As much as possible, switch its attention by providing the dog with a favorite game or offer some treats or rewards. Yet, while on the outdoor, the best thing to do on how to stop a dog panic attack is to use a harness rather than a collar.
2. Have the dog a regular checkup
Once youve noticed that your dog is suffering from a panic attack, one of the good thing to do on how to stop a dog panic attack is to ask for a vets help. Generally, the veterinarian can able to see any medical issues that may cause a panic attack. Moreover, the vet will look for any injuries or trauma so that he may prescribe any medication that can soothe the dogs mood.
3. Get professional assistance
4. Wrap the dog
5. Give sufficient amount of exercise
6. Comfort your dog
7. Provide supplements or medication
8. Do not punish your dog
Come Up With A ‘comfort Plan’
Coming up with a “comfort plan” will help you give your dog immediate care during a panic attack should one arise. Panic attacks can be very intense. There are different ways to soothe and calm your dog. You could try distracting them with their favorite toys, brushing their fur, massaging them, or wrapping them up in a cozy blanket to give them a sense of warmth and security. Sometimes, music or dancing can also help.
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Medications For Dogs With Anxiety
When traditional methods have failed for more extreme cases, a veterinarian may recommend over-the-counter or prescription drugs to treat dog anxiety.
Your veterinarian should examine dogs that are not improving within four to six weeks of changes to your environment, Dr. Burch says. Dogs that show almost all of the signs of anxiety typically need prescription medication in addition to environmental changes and should be evaluated, she adds.
Some types of medication that may be used to treat dog anxiety include the following, but be sure to talk to your vet before giving your pet any medication. It can be dangerous in the wrong dosage.
Dog anxiety medication dosage will vary and should be determined on a case-by-case basis under the direction of a veterinarian.
I recommend speaking with your veterinarian about specific dosages and management with prescription medication, Dr. Burch says. Each patient is going to require different dosages and needs. A veterinarian can also discuss any potential side effects your dog may experience from anti-anxiety medications.
Dog anxiety may be a common issue, but there are many ways to combat it and help our beloved companions. Its the least we can do for our pets who give us so much in return.
How To Calm Social Anxiety
The best way to help your dog overcome social anxiety is through a process called desensitization. This means gradually exposing your dog to the fearful stimuli and rewarding or praising him when he exhibits the desired behavior.
You may enlist the help of a friend with a gentle dog to help you with this process. Find an open spot where the dogs can see each other and make sure theyre both on non-retractable leashes. Walk the dogs so they see each other but remain far enough away so they cant hurt one another. Praise your dog if he exhibits a calm demeanor or doesnt show aggression.
Gradually, over a period of days, weeks and even months, walk the dogs closer together. Some dogs just make a lot of noise, like barking or growling, when they meet another dog, but if the other dog is gentle and submissive, they usually settle down.
Dont risk a bite for yourself or the other dog or owner if your dog lashes out. Work slowly and carefully, praising the desired response.
Training dogs out of social anxiety can be a lengthy process. You may need to work on it constantly. Some dogs allow one or two dogs near them, but the process must begin over again for strange dogs they meet.
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What Is Considered A Panic Attack For A Dog
A panic attack in dogs is actually remarkably similar to a panic attack in people. In both dogs and humans, heart rate elevates substantially, breathing usually becomes harder and faster, shaking can often occur, and just like humans often bit their nails, dogs often will bite on their skin or their fur. However, a person can, at least after calming down some, express themselves and what is making them panic. Dogs obviously cant, so they bark, growl, and hide to show their emotions in other ways. The majority of the time, even if you do not know why a dog is upset, their panic attack is usually relatively short, and you can help them calm down by giving them attention, talking to them in a calm tone, and gently petting them.
Seeing your dog afraid of something may not seem like a big deal to you. You may think that it is just a part of your dogs personality, and because you can comfort them and calm them down rather quickly, its not really that big of a deal. This may be the case if your dog has panic attacks infrequently, but if your dog has regular panic attacks, you should get them treated because panic attacks can weaken your dogs immune system as well as lead to several other health problems.
Phobias Vs Panic Attacks In Dogs
How we distinguish a phobia from a panic attack is based on a presence of a trigger. If there is a specific trigger that elicits those intense reactions from your dog, then it may be classified as a phobia.
People with phobias have described it as experiencing an irrational fear of something. This feeling can be similar in dogs.
Usually there is no trigger that causes the panic attack in a dog.
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Avoid Punishing Your Dog
Just like with humans, getting angry at someone who is experiencing panic will rarely resolve the issue. In most cases, it will only make it worse.
So, yelling at your dog, spraying them with water, forcing them to lie down, or using a shock collar is not going to help a dog thats experiencing a panic attack.
These techniques will only increase fear and anxiety. Your dog cannot control their emotions or physiological responses in these scenarios. If they could control themselves and choose another option, they probably would.
No one who has experienced a panic attack reported that it was a pleasant experience and wanted to experience another. Your dog needs your love and support to help them through their time of need.
Service Dog For Panic Attacks
Obtaining a service dog is an involved process, but a well-trained dog can be incredibly helpful to owners with a variety of challenges. Often, people with anxiety or panic disorder believe that, just because they dont face an outwardly-apparent challenge like blindness or a mobility-issue, theyre ineligible for a service dog. This is not the case.
Service animals are permitted and prescribed on a case-by-case basis. Because these animals tend to have a high price tag that is only feasible when paid for by insurance, many people dont even bother to consider the possibility. However, if you believe that a service animal could help improve the quality of your life, then it is more than worth your consideration.
Those who suffer from panic attacks could greatly benefit from a psychiatric service animal. These animals are trained to pick up on cues and intervene to help alleviate high-stress situations with their owner. Oftentimes those who have panic attacks have generalized anxiety disorder can be greatly helped by a trained service animal or emotional support animal in multiple ways.
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What To Do If Your Dog Has Separation Anxiety
Treatment for Moderate to Severe Separation AnxietyModerate or severe cases of separation anxiety require a more complex desensitization and counterconditioning program. In these cases, its crucial to gradually accustom a dog to being alone by starting with many short separations that do not produce anxiety and then gradually increasing the duration of the separations over many weeks of daily sessions.
The following steps briefly describe a desensitization and counterconditioning program. Please keep in mind that this is a short, general explanation.
Step One: Predeparture CuesAs mentioned above, some dogs begin to feel anxious while their guardians get ready to leave. For example, a dog might start to pace, pant and whine when he notices his guardian applying makeup, putting on shoes and a coat, and then picking up a bag or car keys. Guardians of dogs who become upset during predeparture rituals are unable to leaveeven for just few secondswithout triggering their dogs extreme anxiety. Your dog may see telltale cues that youre leaving and get so anxious about being left alone that he cant control himself and forgets that youll come back.
Medications Might HelpAlways consult with your veterinarian or a veterinary behaviorist before giving your dog any type of medication for a behavior problem.
What Are They Symptoms Of Canine Panic Disorder
Canine panic disorder, which causes dog panic attacks are characterized by several symptoms which may or may not exist with another anxiety-related condition. Moreover, canine panic disorder seldom occurs by itself. That is why the symptoms might be laced with other canine psychological conditions. However, these symptoms of canine panic disorder are the most common:
- Frequent or accidental urination and defecation
- Constant vocalization
- Odd muscle movements and restless behavior
- Random destructive behavior
- Extreme desire to escape
Symptoms of dog panic attacks might differ from dog to dog. However, the negative effects that canine panic disorder might be detrimental to your dogs physical and mental health in the long run. It may be beneficial for you and your dog if dog panic attack is addressed in its early stages of manifestation. Symptoms of dog panic attacks might intensify over time if left untreated.
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Recovery Of Panic Attacks In Dogs
Although it may take some time and patience, panic attacks can be managed by working with your dog to help ease the anxiety. If you still have trouble with anxiety, there are pet therapists you can see that may be able to help.
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