It’s difficult to realize that your pampered and over-indulged pet that doesn’t have a care in the world can get stressed out. The stressors for canine are very different from those humans often experience. This stress can adversely affect a dog’s health and longevity when they live with a fear or anxiety disorder. When your loving pet is under stress, their body releases an excessive amount of norepinephrine, the fight or flight hormone that can alter gut bacteria and interfere with GI tract motility. Next comes the diarrhea, adding to his/her stress level. Some can become chronic, so it’s up to us to alleviate this stress.
Some common signs of stress and their triggers in dogsare nose/lip licking, yawning, panting, reduced or absent appetite, diarrhea, tail lowered or tucked, ears pulled or pinned back, cowering/crouched body posture and/or hiding, trembling/shaking and increased vocalizations as whining, howling or barking.
Listed here are the 10 most common stress triggers in dogs:
- Novelty-exposure to new items, new people, new animals, etc.
- Loud noises-fireworks, thunderstorms, etc.
- Changes in housing-moving to a new home, boarding, etc.
- Changes in household members-new baby, new pet, loss of pet or human,
- Changes in household routine-new job schedule, kids returning to school,
- Punitive training methods-shock collars, yelling, hitting, etc.
- Invasion of personal space-disruption when resting, hugging, kissing, forcibly
- Lack of outlets for normal breed behaviors-herding, running, retrieving, etc.
- Separation from human family members-separation anxiety, etc.
- Poor (strained) relationships with other household members (pets or humans),
Some of these can be avoided but others cannot. Here are some triggers you can exert control over and minimize your dog’s life. Replace punitive training with positive reinforcement behavior training, make sure everyone in the household understands and respects your dog’s need for uninterrupted sleep and appropriate canine-friendly handling, increasing daily physical activity level and don’t leave them alone for too long at a time as they tend to get lonely and bored when forced to stay alone.
Here are some other tips to reduce your dog’s stress:
- Leave an article of clothing or blanket with your scent on it
- Leave a toy for your dog to focus on in your absence and small treats around the
- Add a flower essence blend to the drinking water
- Invest in an Adaptil collar or diffuser for your dog
- Give them plenty of exercise and mental stimulation along with TLC
- Play calm, soothing music to relax your dog
- Wraps are available if your dog responds to pressure applied to the body
- Ttouch is a specific massage technique that can help anxious pets
- Consult your holistic vet about homeopathic, TCM and other remedies
- Nutraceuticals and herbs can help calm your pet
- Essential oil of lavender is proven to reduce a dog’s stress response
- If your dog had a rocky start in life try a program called A Sound Beginning
- If the stress worsens, consider a self-healing technique through a trained
We all love our animals, so let’s do our best to keep that little (or big) he or she happy and in our lives as long as possible. They also add to the human life and make us happy while doing so. To some of us, they ARE our children.
Dr Fredda Branyon