Whether you adopted your furry friend from the shelter or he just whines and paces when you're away, anxiety can manifest in your dog due to a variety of reasons. Other examples include shaking and panting when hearing thunderstorms or fireworks, or growling when they are around a certain person (men, for example). Something can also be said for the amount of sensory information your dog experiences on a daily basis. Their sense of smell and hearing are both incredibly sensitive, so if there is a lot of noise or commotion, it can easily stress a dog out. Vets have been known to prescribe anti-anxiety medication to dogs to relieve their anxiety, but these can often come with harsh and unnecessary side effects. Thankfully, there are other ways you can help. Here are 5 ways to treat anxiety in dogs:
Bristly CBD Oil
If the idea of getting your pooch high to calm him down worries you, don't worry - CBD oil, when derived from the Hemp plant, contains almost no THC, the psychoactive ingredient of cannabis that creates a “high”. Using CBD oil is not drugging your pets, it's using a natural way to relieve anxiety they may be experiencing. When you give CBD oil to your dog, the oil interacts with a series of receptors that run throughout the Central Nervous System to reduce anxiety and calm him down. CBD oil has also been used to treat nausea, arthritis, and seizures in dogs.
The ThunderShirt has risen to be a popular drug-free method to treat anxiety in dogs in the last several years. It is a wrap that provides continuous pressure around you dog's torso to calm them down when they're experiencing separation anxiety, stress during travel, or distress at loud noises like thunderstorms. Similar to a weighted blanket for humans, or a swaddle for babies, the pressure provided by the ThunderShirt relieves a dog's anxiety and relaxes them. It can turn them in some cases, from a panting, pacing mess, into a calm dog. The company that produces the garment says that it works for about 80% of pets.
You already know that you should give your pup at least 30 minutes of exercise a day, but there's an added benefit to that - exercise is a great natural stress reliever! First of all, when you get your pup moving by running around in the yard or chasing after a ball, it initiates the synthesis of serotonin, the endorphin that makes you happy. Second of all, when you go on a long walk with your dog or throw the Frisbee around, it allows her the opportunity to release some stifled energy that might also be contributing to her anxiety. Especially if your pooch is anxious that you're not home all day, playing with her outside will help relieve some of that anxiety just by spending time with her. So get out and get moving and you might notice a dramatic difference in your pup's demeanor, especially if he likes to sleep all day.
Massage can help to relieve stress in dogs, just like it can reduce stress in humans. You feel calmer and more relaxed after getting a massage to work the tension out of your body, so why wouldn't your pup? Note that when you decide to give your dog a massage, it should be a more gentle approach than what you would get on yourself. Start by using small circular motions to knead the muscles starting with her head, moving down to the neck, and hitting each side of the spine until you get to the tail. You can massage their chest, legs and paws as well. Relieving muscle tension is an essential step in alleviating anxiety in a stressed out dog, so try giving your four legged family member a massage the next time he's feeling anxious, and see how calm he gets.
Your dog might howl when he hears a certain type of music, and it might seem like he's singing along. That's because dogs are very perceptive to sounds. And studies have shown that when you play classical music for dogs, they physically relax while listening to the gentle sweeping sounds of the strings and the peaceful notes from the woodwinds. There is actually a CD that was composed specifically to calm nervous or anxious dogs, titled "Through a Dog's Ear." The music featured in this album series is arranged to diminish the intricacies of most music. This CD compilation and classical music have something in common - they utilize uncomplicated sounds - it's why they both work so well to soothe an anxious dog. Think about it: when you compare classical music to heavy metal, there's a distinct difference, isn't there? They both evoke different types of feelings - feelings that dogs also pick up on.