The Worries and Cares of Life: Helping Your Anxious Dog

Have you ever thought about what your dog worries about, and what might make them stressed and anxious? Besides thunderstorms and fireworks, there are many things that can trigger fear and anxiety in dogs, resulting in challenging behavior issues. Separation anxiety is a common problem, as is travel anxiety, anxiety due to pain (such as from chronic arthritis) and fear of other animals and people. An often-overlooked cause of anxiety in dogs is stress/anxiety of the owner(s): your dog “reads” you, and just plain knows when you are having a bad day or struggling with life’s challenges. They worry and share in your stress, even though they don’t understand it.

It is normal for dogs to react quickly and briefly to these triggers, but it is not normal for them to have a prolonged response. Prolonged responses to these triggers cause chronic stress, which in turn disrupts the dog’s wellness and its relationship to its environment, including people and other animals.

Common canine behaviors that arise due to fear and anxiety:

  • Pacing/hypervigilance
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Attempts to escape (digging, clawing at doors and windows and flooring under closed doors, chewing door and window frames, throwing weight on windows/French doors and breaking them)
  • Inappropriate elimination
  • Hiding
  • Constant panting/drooling/whining/barking/crying/yawning
  • Licking lips and/or the air/ “flybiting”
  • Poor appetite (anorexia)
  • Destructive behavior (destroying furniture/bedding/clothing)

Treatment of canine anxiety and phobias can be very complicated, and is not a quick-fix. Recognizing that your dog has anxiety/stress issues is the first step. Seeking medical care is also important, including support with prescription anxiolytic agents such as benzodiazepam drugs (lorazepam, diazepam, and alprazolam). These drugs help stimulate appetite too, which may or may not be helpful. Other drugs that affect mood include generic Prozac (fluoxetine). Many general practitioner veterinarians are comfortable prescribing fluoxetine and similar drugs, but often it is necessary for your pet to see a veterinarian specializing in behavior for your dog to receive optimal drug therapy.

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Desensitizing your pet to the stimuli that trigger inappropriate behavior can be successful, but this must be done under the guidance of a knowledgeable canine behavior specialist.

Canine anxiety can also be alleviated by alternative therapies, such as pheromone therapy. A specific calming supplement, Serenin Vet™, is designed to help reduce anxiety in dogs. It is a unique blend of 11 natural and complementary ingredients which down-regulate the many triggers that overstimulate the canine brain.

Three of the 11 ingredients in Serenin Vet are:

  • Passion Flower: Contains flavonoids with relaxing and anti-anxiety effects, and improves sleep and restlessness and aids in tranquility.
  • St. John’s Wort: Helps alleviate mild anxiety and fears in dogs. It has both analgesic and relaxant effects.
  • Eleuthero (Siberian Ginseng): Is an adaptogen that helps the body adapt to stress by reducing loss of stress-reducing hormones. It enhances immune function and reduces cortisol levels and inflammatory response.

Other ingredients in Serenin Vet™include Imuno-2865 (supports a healthy immune system), Vitamins B6 and B12, L-Tyrosine, and Inositol. Serenin Vet™ is manufactured by Animal Necessity and maintains the same high quality standards expected of their vision supplement Ocu-GLO Rx™.

How difficult is it for us to master an illogical fear, or to break a bad habit that we have? Very! Likewise, it is illogical to expect your dog to quickly overcome a deep-seated fear or anxiety. Patience, understanding, and medical and behavioral support are all needed, to help you help your dog. And remember to take care of your own well-being, because that is what your dog needs too, above all else, to make them happy.