Updated Aug 26, 2022
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It's easy for dog owners to underestimate the significance of anxiety in their dogs.
There may be a tendency to be dismissive, because the dog owner knows that there is nothing for the dog to be worried about, But, of course, the dog doesn't know this. And anxiety disorder in dogs is a very real thing.
How Common Is Anxiety In Dogs?
However, a study in Finland reported much bigger numbers. Dog owners estimated that 72.5% of their pets showed symptoms of anxiety. (Source: medicalnewstoday.com)
Types Of Anxiety Suffered By Dogs
There are several causes for anxiety in dogs. The three main categories are: separation anxiety, or fear of abandonment, fear of loud noises, traveling in general, or reluctance to go to specific places, such as the vet, for the groomer.
Old age can also bring anxiety problems. As a dog enters his golden years, eyesight and hearing often suffer. When these faculties are not functioning well, the dog feels isolated and unsafe. Under these circumstances, anxiety is understandable and common.
Older dogs can also suffer from dementia, which can lead to anxiety, just like humans. Also known as Canine Cognitive Dysfunction (CCD) and, more informally, as 'dogzeimers' or 'sundowners'.
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One of the most common forms of anxiety suffered by dogs is canine separation anxiety. For whatever reason, the dog is distressed when the owner leaves and the dog is left alone.
Signs of Separation Anxiety
Any behavior problem like those above can be a sign of anxiety.
Anxiety Caused By Loud Noises
Most dogs owners will be familiar with the two kinds of loud noise which cause anxious behavior in their dogs - thunderstorms, and fireworks. The sudden, loud noises from either of these will frighten most dogs, or cause them stress.
Can I Calm My Dog's Anxiety Naturally?
There are some natural remedies which are known to be effective. Amongst these are various essential oils and Rescue Remedy.
There are quite a few essential oils which have shown to be effective in calming an anxious dog. Aromatherapy for dogs has been the subject of scientific studies.
Bergamot oil can help to soothe panic. Ylang Ylang has a mild sedative effect and can help with nervous dogs.
But the most well-known and commonly used is lavender oil. The National Library of Medicine published a report on the effectiveness of Lavender oil in helping dogs with travel anxiety.
Lavender Essential Oil
Lavender can work very well in reducing your dog's anxiety. But you must make sure that your dog does not ingest it.
Aromatherapy is the recommended way to administer Lavender oil. At it's simplest, just put some drops on a cotton wool ball and let the aroma seep out into the air. just be sure that your dog can't get at the cotton wool.
If you do this regularly, and leave the house, you might consider an aromotherapy diffuser to be sure the essential oils is safely dispensed.
Bach Flowers Rescue Remedy
Rescue Remedy is popular for treating anxiety in dogs. It's a homeopathic treatment. Many dog owners like the fact that it's all-natural. .
We used Rescue Remedy very successfully on a dog we rescued from the wild. She was in a terrible state after living wild for an unknown time, but she quickly healed and fitted into our domestic setup, and our dog pack.
But she remained a very anxious dog. She was terrified to get in a car and wouldn't go up or down stairs.
We gave her Rescue Remedy over a period of 2 or 3 months, and it was a tremendous help. We saw results very quickly. She eventually became a much more laid back dog, with no anxiety issues.
Rescue Remedy is very easy to administer. We put a few drops in her food. Drops can also be added to water. Or, you can put a few drops on ears or pads so that they can be absorbed. There is no danger of over-dosing.
CBD For Dog Anxiety
CBD is a compound found in the cannabis plant. New legislation 2018 at a federal level, made it legal to produce and sell CBD products derived from hemp.
CBD will not make your dog high. The cannabis 'high' comes from another compound altogether, THC, which is psychoactive.
CBD has a long and well established history of providing a calm and soothing effect, both for humans and more recently for dogs too.
There is a growing body of scientific research confirming the benefits of CBD for dogs. And a large body of testimonial evidence from dog owners.
A study at Colorado State University's College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences showed that CBD is safe and well tolerated in dogs.
A number of studies have shown the CBD has a similar calming effect to that of a prescription anti anxiety medication. The Brazilian Journal of Medical and Biological Research undertook a study which found that "the anxiolytic and antipsychotic properties of CBD stand out. CBD's anxiolytic effects are apparently similar to those of approved drugs to treat anxiety."
CBD can be particularly helpful for anxiety brought on by dementia, or Cognitive Dysfunction (CCD). CBD helps by increasing dopamine release, which is also the basis of the prescription drug Anipryl, typically prescribed for canine cognitive dysfunction.
CBD is a very good choice for helping with your dog's anxiety.
Click the image below for more info...
Anxiety Vests for Dogs
An anxiety vest, or anxiety jacket works by providing a gentle and consistent pressure on the dog's abdomen. This is a practice which has been in use for years — both in humans and in dogs.
It works because the gentle pressure releases endorphins, and also the calming hormone oxytocin.
Our favorite choice for this is the ThunderShirt, because of its performance record. Based on surveys completed by over 2000 customers, the ThunderShirt has proven to be over 80% effective in calming dogs with various anxiety issues, such as thunderstorms, fireworks, separation anxiety, travel anxiety.
Click the image below for more info...
Can I Give My Dog Benadryl?
Benadryl is an anti-histamine medication for humans. It is safe for dogs in small doses.
pets.webmd.com reports that the safe dosage according to the Merck Veterinary Manual is "0.9 to 1.8 milligrams per pound". And "This amount can be administered two to three times daily". Benadryl tablets are typically 25mg. According to this standard dosage, one tablet would therefore be suitable for a 25 lb dog.
An excess of Benadryl can be dangerous for a dog, so we prefer to err on the side of caution.
For our large Cane Corsos, who are both over 100 lbs,we give them 1 or 2 tablets, which is much less than the recommended dose.
Reduce dosage appropriately for size. For a very small dog, you might come down as far as 1/4 of a tablet.
Benadryl is one of the few human medications that vets are happy to recommend for a dog owner to administer at home. But, if you have any concerns about dosage, or if your dog is taking other medications, you should ask your vet before giving Benadryl to your dog.
Will Benadryl Help Dog Anxiety?
Our dogs do not suffer from anxiety, so we have not given them Benadryl for that purpose. We have used Benadryl mainly for insect stings or other allergic reactions.
Benadryl can cause drowsiness, which is said to help calm a dog who is suffering from anxiety. Our research shows that it may have some benefit for anxiety, but it's not the most effective treatment.
Creating A Safe Environment
The easiest way to create a safe place for your dog is to get him a dog crate.
Some people seem to think there is something cruel about putting a dog in a crate but nothing is further from the truth. Whilst it is true that confining your dog to a crate for too long would be cruel, using a crate to create a safe place for your dog has big benefits for both of you.
It is natural for a dog to seek out a safe space. A den has been in his history since the beginning. We have an article here on Crate Training A Dog but, in brief, it is very easy to get your dog used to a crate by rewarding him with a treat when he goes in the crate, and praising him.
After a while, the crate becomes 'his place'. We have two large crates for our Cane Corsos, and they both go in them of their own accord every day -- they like being in them.
You can cover the crate if you need to make your dog feel more secure. We have an article covering why it is impossible to soundproof a dog crate -- but you can cut the noise down and make the crate cosier by covering it with heavy material.
You can check out our favorite dog crate by clicking the link below...
Frequently Asked Questions
Can Dogs Get Sick From Anxiety?
Anxiety and stress is a real problem for dogs, and it can make them sick. But if you watch out for obvious signs of anxiety and stress, there's no need for it to ever get that far.
How Can I Help My Dog With Car Anxiety?
If possible, open a window and get some fresh air in. Make sure the temperature in the vehicle is cool and comfortable. Avoid giving your dog food for at least a couple of hours beforehand.
CBD is very good for calming and soothing your dog. It comes in many forms, and some convenient calming chews are a great option. CBD products can also help with a wide range of other conditions.
What Do Vets Give Dogs For Anxiety?
Several anxiety medications for humans are also used for dogs. Here is a list of common dog anxiety medications and their generic alternatives.
The National Library of Medicine
Aromatherapy for travel-induced excitement in dogs
To evaluate the efficacy of the ambient odor of lavender as a treatment for travel-induced excitement in dogs.
Medical News Today
Many dogs are prone to anxiety, study finds