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10 signs of Anxiety in dogs

10 signs of Anxiety in dogs


Spotting the signs of anxiety in dogs can be challenging. Some signs are subtle and may seem like normal actions, such as yawning or lip-licking.

Canine anxiety is much like human anxiety.  The difference is that it plays out differently for dogs and potentially puts them and you in situations of conflict. For example, a dog with fear anxiety can display aggressive behaviours towards other dogs or humans. 

At times we may think our dog is misbehaving when they bark or urinate where they shouldn’t. We reprimand them without understanding the underlying condition. This makes the dog feel isolated and alone because we are failing to give them the help they need. Also, health issues in dogs can result from prolonged stress the same way they do for humans. 

It’s common for dogs to occasionally experience worry. But, if excessive levels of anxiety go untreated, your dog may develop more severe anxiety disorders that can cause mental health issues and behavioural problems. 

Although they can’t speak to tell us that they are anxious, they show us in their own way, through vocalisation, body language, and behaviours. We just need to be aware of the signs so we can treat their anxiety and help our beloved dogs feel safe and happy. 

 It's important to treat anxiety in your dog to avoid it reaching extreme levels.

10 Signs of Anxiety in Dogs

Although every dog is different, there are specific behaviours that are a solid indication that your dog is suffering from anxiety.  

Anxiety sign 1 - Vocalisation

Dog barking  - Signs of Anxiety in Dogs by PetWell

Vocalisation such as barking, whining, or growling is very normal in dogs. However when vocalisation is extreme and seemingly for little reason, it can be a sign of anxiety, especially if barking and whining is constant when your dog is home alone.  The barking and whining can be their way of attention-seeking and self-soothing. 

Separation anxiety is the most common of all anxiety behaviours.  Dogs who are used to spending time with their owners can feel alone and scared when they are left alone. 

Dogs with separation anxiety will often exhibit

  • extreme vocalisation
  • destructive behaviour
  • inappropriate urination
  • Greet you with over-excited behaviour when you come home.

Anxiety sign 2 - Restlessness and Pacing

Restlessness and pacing are common anxiety behaviours. Your dog might exhibit these behaviours when they see you getting ready to leave the house, if they are in a large crowd, or as they visit the vet or any other place that causes them stress. 

Anxiety sign 3 - Inappropriate Elimination

A common response to fear or anxiety can be dribbling pee or complete urination and defecation in the home.  Generally, this is a symptom of separation anxiety.  They can work themselves up to the point that prior house training doesn’t come into their thinking. 

PetWell CALM Anti Anxiety Supplement and Treats for Dogs and Cats

Pets get nervous, stressed or anxious for a variety of reasons. Whether it’s loud noises, travel or separation anxiety, PetWell® CALM is a natural pet supplement and functional treats that help manage your pet’s stress and anxiety.

Anxiety sign 4 - Shaking

Dogs can shake or tremble when they are cold. But when they shake at other times, especially if it’s accompanied by them hiding or displaying other anxiety behaviours, then it's certain that they are feeling anxious.  

Anxiety sign 5 - Yawning and Panting

It’s important to notice when your dog is yawning or panting.  In context it can make perfect sense, for example, a dog yawning and panting after a long walk or play dates with other dogs may result in them being tired – therefore yawning or panting. 

However, a clear indicator that your dog is anxious is if you notice:

  • your dog yawning as they enter the vet’s rooms
  • if someone is hugging them
  • they are panting for no reason (even when it’s cold)  

NOTE: excessive panting can also relate to health issues.  As a precaution consult your Vet.

Anxiety sign 7 - Lip Licking and Drooling

Your dog may drool when there is food or treats in sight. Or they may lick their lips after a yummy meal. However, if outside of those circumstances, rapid lip licking or flicking of the tongue and excessive drooling indicate your dog is feeling anxious.

Dog lip licking - Signs of Anxiety in Dogs by PetWell

Anxiety sign 8 - Compulsive Licking and Chewing

Compulsive behaviours are a common response to anxiety. Excessive licking and chewing are what plays out in most cases. This is a method of self-soothing for them. However, it’s also a form of self-harm as they are obsessively licking and chewing their paws or other body parts. It can cause sores and possible infections of the skin.  

Anxiety sign 9 - Hiding

Dogs will hide when they feel scared, anxious, or uncertain. This can occur if there are strangers in the home or nearby. You may notice your dog or other dogs hiding behind their owners when there are loud noises such as fireworks or music or if they are in unfamiliar surroundings. It’s a common reaction to fear anxiety.

Anxiety sign 10 - Aggression

Fear aggression caused by anxiety is the most dangerous behaviour of all.  This form of anxiety may result from a past experience the dog has had, or from a lack of socialisation during the puppy years.

This can be triggered by:

  • loud noises
  • strangers
  • unfamiliar dogs
  • unfamiliar situations

The response to this can be one of fight or flight.  Your dog may feel its need to attack or run, either way, it can result in your dog or others being harmed.

Other Anxious Behaviours are;

  • destruction 
  • digging
  • not eating or drinking
  • escaping from their home

These behaviours on their own are very little reason for concern.  However, if your dog is exhibiting multiple anxious behaviours, you need to act.  Our first recommendation is to visit your Vet for a full health examination.  

Engage a canine behaviourist to help you with some training and help you identify some of the stress triggers for your dog.  Dogs are much more at ease when they have structure and know what is expected of them.

We have outlined how you can help your dog with managing its anxiety in the following blogs:

Tips for Relieving Anxiety in Dogs

5 Most Common Forms of Pet Anxiety which includes easy-to-implement solutions.

Good nutrition is very important in managing anxiety. Consider an all-natural supplement that is specifically formulated to keep your pet calm. 

Help your Dog keep Calm with CALM - Anxiety Aid

PetWell® CALM has been professionally developed by a pet naturopath using human-grade ingredients that manage pet anxiety whilst replenishing essential vitamins and minerals lost due to stress. It’s important because stress can compromise their immune system which ultimately causes health issues. 

PetWell CALM Anti Anxiety Supplement and Treats for Dogs and Cats

Its unique formula is a blend of pure chamomile, lemon balm, green tea, and B, C and E vitamins and more. All from natural sources and free of synthetic ingredients, preservatives, artificial flavours, and colours.  CALM is an effective anxiety aid for your pet and is gentle enough to use every day. 

In summary

It's important to know the signs of anxiety in dogs and be able to recognise them. Also, it's important to be aware of the treatment options for dog anxiety.  With the help of your vet, an appropriate trainer and a high-quality supplement you can help your dog live a happy and healthy life. 

Disclaimer: The entire contents of this email and website are not to be taken as medical advice. The team at Pet Squad Pty Ltd trading as PetWell encourages you to make your own pet healthcare decisions based on your research and in partnership with a qualified pet healthcare professional.

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