5 Ways to Reduce Dog Anxiety

There’s a reason why we call dogs man’s (or woman’s) best friend. You spend a lot of time together and you get to know them better than anybody else. It’s a special bonds, and at Wags to Wiskers Pet Supplies we know that our southeast Michigan dog owners can read their moods as if they were our own children. You can tell when they’re happy, sad, bored, excited, moody, and even anxious and distressed.

Dog anxiety is common. It can stop your dog from enjoying normal doggie activities, like going for walks, enjoying your company, or relaxing. Do you know how to combat or reduce your dog’s anxiety? We’re going to share some quick and easy remedies that have a chance at preventing or reducing canine anxiety without pharmaceutical prescriptions that could have nasty side effects.

Common Types Of Dog Anxiety

There are 2 types of dog anxiety, behavioral and situational. Behavioral anxiety is when your dog has ongoing anxiety about something. Separation anxiety is an example of behavioral anxiety and is the most common anxiety in dogs, with some experts estimating that up to 14% of dogs suffer from a form of it. These dogs are afraid of being at home alone or separated from you in any way. There can be many causes of behavioral anxiety. Past trauma or abuse can cause your dog to react or act out.

Situational anxiety is when your dog is afraid of something specific, like storms or other loud noises, car rides, or going to the vet or groomer. Treating anxiety can sometimes be a lifelong process, while other times there are some more common ways to treat it in the moment.

Reducing Canine Anxiety

CBD Oil

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The industry of CBD oil is exploding due to its medicinal properties, with lots of benefits for both humans and dogs found in managing anxiety, chronic pains, reducing stress, and in general improving the quality of life.

Dogs have cannabinoid receptors throughout the central nervous system and your dog’s body releases endocannabinoid chemicals on its own. These connect with the receptors that stimulate their natural ability to create serotonin, a natural mood stabilizer and enhancer. Research shows that CBD increases this ability. It interacts with the nervous system to soothe and calm anxiety.

CBD is great for situational anxiety because it works fairly quickly. For example, if a storm is coming or you’re heading out in the car, give your dog CBD oil 30-60 minutes before. This will help calm them down and keep them relaxed. CBD can be taken orally and can be added directly to food, just be sure to follow the dosing instructions on the bottle. For more information or to buy some CBD oil or CBD-related products, ask an associate at your local Wags to Wiskers Pet Supplies store in Ann Arbor (2425 W. Stadium Blvd, Ann Arbor, MI, 48103) or Chelsea (1192 S. Main St, Chelsea, MI, 48118).

Herbs

There are several herbs that can help soothe your dog’s anxiousness. Chamomile, Valerian, and St. John’s Wort are all natural plants that can aid in relaxing your dog.

Chamomile is a powerful sedative that humans and dogs alike use. Your local Wags to Wiskers Pet Supplies store has some popular chamomile-infused treats and snacks that dogs love for the taste and that humans love for their effectiveness! They’re great for dogs that get sick or nervous in the car or for extended car rides.

Valerian is probably the most widely recognized herbal sedative. It’s generally used more to calm nerves rather than sleep as it is slightly less powerful than chamomile. Valerian is a good herb to use if your pup gets overexcited or stressed out during certain events like thunderstorms, or even if you were having people over for a dinner party.

St. John’s Wort is a safe, natural alternative to antidepressant drugs. For these reasons, you can use this herb for behavioral anxiety such as a fear of loud noises (thunderstorms or fireworks) or separation anxiety.

You can find all of these herbs or similar alternatives at your local Wags to Wiskers Pet Supplies shop.

Exercise

Sometimes, your stress becomes your pet’s stress. If a crazy work schedule means you aren’t taking your dog for the regular walks he’s become accustomed to, he’ll feel anxiety. The change in routine, the loneliness, and the feeling of being cooped up are all possible contributors to stress that can be eliminated by simply taking your pup outside to stretch his legs and get some fresh air.

For our southeast Michigan dog owners, we often see or hear of dogs that suffer from some form of seasonal anxiety. This can be due to the lack or hours spent outside, diminished walking frequency or distance, or cold weather.

And contrary to popular belief, cats also need exercise and the mental stimulation it provides. Break out the laser pointer, kitty fishing pole, or any other toy that promotes activity and get your cat moving.

Music

A recent study by the Scottish SPCA and the University of Glasgow showed that a little Bach could be effective with dogs. The researchers observed two groups of dogs—one that had classical music played into their kennels and another that was observed in silence. After a week, the conditions were switched, and in both cases, the kennels with the music housed dogs that had less observable stress. 

Some of our furry Wags friends have shown to have reduced symptoms of separation anxiety if they’re not left at home in silence. Playing some soft music, or having the TV on in the background, could work for your dog. It wouldn’t hurt to try, and you might find that the classical music can calm down the dog’s owner as well!

Massage and Grooming

Yup, we’re advocating that you spend a little bit of time cuddling and petting your pup. A dog’s sense of time is so different from our own, so just spending 15 minutes can have a big impact on reducing canine anxiety.

Anything that makes the body work better will make the brain work better. Some locations on a dog’s or cat’s body—like the feet, the ears, and the top of the head—are natural pressure points where as little as 15 minutes of massage will make a world of difference for your pet’s stress level. Chances are you will know your dog’s favorite spots, and paying attention to those for a little while can go a long way.

Maybe therapy for your dog or cat is as simple as 15 minutes of brushing every night. Coger says it will feel great for your animal, and it’ll be more time he gets to spend with his owner. You will also have an opportunity to observe his skin for lesions or abrasions, which could be a sign of something more serious. Some in-home grooming will not only strengthen the bond between you and your fur family, but it can also improve your dog’s anxiety if you drop them off at a professional groomer’s for a trim.

We hope you can get some value out of these 5 ways to reduce dog anxiety! For further information regarding anti-anxiety products, feel free to speak to an associate at your local southeast Michigan Wags to Wiskers Pet Supplies store. We can also get you in touch with some local trainers and canine behavioral experts that can help for extreme situations.