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home : health : health January 22, 2018


1/9/2018 1:11:00 PM
Natural alternatives for anxious dogs
Anxiety affects all breeds of dogs and can lead to serious behavioral problems if left untreated.  photo by Jodi Schneider McNamee
+ click to enlarge
Anxiety affects all breeds of dogs and can lead to serious behavioral problems if left untreated. photo by Jodi Schneider McNamee

By Jodi Schneider McNamee


If you or someone you know suffers from severe anxiety, you know how difficult it can be to get through the day. And just like people, dogs can experience anxiety, which can be provoked by fear, separation, and environmental changes.

Anxiety affects all breeds of dogs and can lead to serious behavioral problems if left untreated.

Dogs are individuals, and each manifests anxiety differently. The anxiety can range from mild (crouching, hiding, tail-tucking) or moderate (panting, shaking, trembling, extreme licking, and chewing) to severe (excessive barking or howling, aggression, biting, destructiveness) An anxious dog may also urinate or defecate in inappropriate places.

Dog anxiety can have several causes.

Fear-related anxiety can be caused by loud noises, strange people or animals, visual stimuli like hats or umbrellas, new or strange environments, specific situations like the veterinarian's office or car rides. These fears may seem insignificant to us, but they can create a lot of anxiety for dogs.

One of the most common complaints of pet parents is that their dog is disruptive or destructive when left alone. Separation anxiety is triggered when a dog becomes upset because of separation from his pet parent, the person they're attached to.

Separation anxiety ranges anywhere from mild to extreme. An example of extreme separation anxiety could be a dog that will attempt to dig and chew through doors or windows, which could result in self-injury, such as broken teeth, cut and scraped front paws and damaged nails.

Separation anxiety can occur in animals from multiple or single-pet homes. It may be more likely to happen in animals with a history of abuse. Or dogs that have had a traumatic separation from a previous companion, for example a dog brought into a shelter may have an increased risk. Dogs that have missed out on normal social interaction with people or other animals, especially as puppies, may also be at risk. Anxious dogs also often work themselves up to the point that they pee or poop in the house, even if they are housebroken.

Age-related anxiety affects older dogs and can be associated with cognitive dysfunction syndrome (CDS). In canines with CDS, memory, learning, perception, and awareness start to decline, similar to the early stages of Alzheimer's disease in humans. This understandably leads to anxiety in senior dogs.

Dog anxiety can be mentally and physically taxing for you and your furry friend. In a worst-case scenario, anxious dogs can injure themselves, people in their environment or other dogs

If you think your pooch might have anxiety, talk to your veterinarian today about a treatment plan that best fits your furry friend and your lifestyle.

Veterinarians may choose to administer sedative medication to dogs that are affected by chronic anxiety. And these drugs often come with side effects and behavior changes.

Alternative anxiety treatments may mean no side effects and no behavioral changes in your pet.

Alternative anxiety treatments include aromatherapy, pheromone therapy, herbal ingredients, or acupuncture.

Acupuncture and Chinese herbal therapy (in addition to positive reinforcement training) have shown to greatly reduce canine anxiety. The backbone of Chinese medicine for thousands of years, acupuncture involves inserting thin, sterile, stainless-steel needles into specific points of the body. Most acupuncture points are located along 14 major channels, which form a network that carries blood and energy throughout the body.

The goal of acupuncture is to promote the body to heal itself. From a traditional Chinese veterinary medicine (TCVM) perspective, veterinary acupuncture encourages healing by correcting energy imbalances in the body.

Acupuncture produces a physiological response. It can provide pain relief, stimulate the immune and nervous systems, increase microcirculation, and decrease inflammation. Acupuncture can also help restore balance between organ systems for optimal health and overall well-being. According to Rachel Barrack, DVM, many dogs find acupuncture sessions so relaxing that they fall asleep once the needles are inserted. Chinese herbs are often used in conjunction with acupuncture to optimize and extend its effects.

Don't let your dog's anxiety take control of your life. Consult with your veterinarian on the best options to alleviate your furry family member's anxiety, and consider acupuncture for a safe and gentle way to calm your canine.

With the right treatment strategy, you can help your pooch overcome his anxiety and prevent dangerous and destructive situations from happening in the first place.









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