Our pups are our best friends, and most of us even consider them to be our closest family members. Our family members can sense when we’re stressed, and so can our pets. Dogs are incredibly intuitive, and can pick up on your most difficult, trying moments. While it’s wonderful to have a companion who is so deeply attuned to us, it can affect them in adverse ways that we do not intend. Unfortunately a large portion of canine medical issues can be attributed to stress, and it’s important to be able to tell the difference between a serious medical condition or a stress-related issue. When we return the favor to our pets and become attuned to their needs, we can keep them healthier and extend their lives greatly. If you suspect that your pet is under stress, here are some of the telltale signs and symptoms you may notice:
Dogs do not have the capacity to sweat in the same manner that humans do, so it’s not unusual to see them panting heavily on especially warm days or after long bouts of exercise. Furthermore, depending on the breed, some dogs pant more than others—this is something you should look into with your vet. Usually, it is abnormal for dogs to pant excessively under normal, everyday conditions. Excessive panting can be observed if the dog has not been exercising or it is not particularly warm weather outside. This can be attributed to stress, but it can also be a symptom of another health issue. It’s best to have your dog checked out with your veterinarian.
Don’t we all just yawn whenever we’re tired? Yes, it is true—yawning occurs mostly when we’re sleepy, but for our dogs it may be their body’s response to stress. If you notice that your dog is yawning, shaking, or his ears are back and close to his head, it’s likely that they need a relaxing vacation from everyday life or some good exercise. Your dog needs to get out and breathe fresh air, and stay active just like humans do. They need regular attention, play, and activities that keep their minds and bodies active. Excessive yawning may be letting you know that your pet has some pent up anxiety that needs to be released.
If you notice that your dog is has what seem to be allergic reactions, it could simply be a response to stress or anxiety. Just as humans may break out in hives or rashes due to stress, dogs can also have the same bodily reaction. While these symptoms should not go overlooked or unaddressed medically, it is also important to make sure you are meeting your dog’s basic needs in terms of exercise and diet. Allergy panels can be expensive, so exhaust your options before you resort to expensive interventions.
If your pup is house trained and seems to be having accidents around the house, it could be that they’re not able to explore outdoor areas very often. Reducing a dog’s stress level sometimes means reducing your own stress levels—and there are certainly less fantastic approaches to your pet’s health! Getting out and enjoying regular walks or some time in a park playing with your pet can be a great stress-relieving outlet for both you and your pet, and it will give them plenty of opportunity to go to the bathroom outdoors, not indoors!
We often joke that our dogs tear up our favorite slippers when they’re mad at us… or even better, leave us a present! If your dog is engaging in destructive behaviors such as tearing up your homework and books or chewing up your favorite pair of sunglasses, they’re probably trying to get out some pent up energy and stress—and they may take it out on you because they know you’re responsible for giving them an outlet to do so.
Here at Dr. Ron’s, we take a holistic approach to your pet’s health. While medical conditions certainly come up, it is important to consider the dog’s everyday life and overall health. Perfectly healthy pets can exhibit health issues that are related to heightened stress and anxiety levels. If you live in the cities of Simi Valley, Moorpark, Thousand Oaks, Chatsworth, or other areas nearby Ventura County, Dr. Ron’s Animal Hospital & Emergency can help with interventions that begin with the least invasive option to save you money and further stress. Contact us today for more information about how to reduce your pet’s stress levels or to schedule a consultation with your pet.