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Recognizing and reducing stress in dogs

A relaxed dog

A relaxed dog. Photo: Pixabay.com

Stress in dogs often manifests itself through loud barking, restless groping, increased salivation or aggressive behavior. You can find out here which triggers lead to stress and how you can help your dog to reduce stress.

What is stress in dogs?

First of all, stress is a natural reaction of the body to mental or physical stress. The body pours stress hormones and other messenger substances in order to function even better and to be able to cope with the stressful situation. However, permanent stress can lead to excessive demands on the dog. The stress then has a negative effect on the body and that wellbeing of the dog.

Each dog also reacts differently to certain ones stressors. For some dogs, it causes enormous stress when the doorbell rings, when they meet another dog while walking, or when they have to stay at home alone. Whereas many other dogs accept these situations completely relaxed.

Therefore, it is advisable that you keep a close eye on your dog which ones trigger cause him stress. This is the only way you can then work specifically to reduce the stress in the dog.

What causes stress in dogs?

The triggers for stress in dogs can be very different. As individual as each individual dog is, each dog reacts differently to possible stress triggers. However, there are certain situations and circumstances that lead to stress in many dogs. These include, for example, the following potential stress factors:

  • Noise: Many dogs are sensitive to noise and loud noises. Above all, shrill, high-pitched sounds put some four-legged friends on the alert.
  • lonliness: Puppies and very people-oriented dogs first have to get used to staying at home alone for a certain period of time. They are often anxious at first and afraid of losing. They miss their master or mistress and don’t know if they will come back. Some dogs will panic if left alone.
  • other dogs: There are dogs that get stressed when they meet other dogs. A possible reason for this is that the dog wants to defend its master or mistress.
  • visits from strangers: The visit of strangers in the “territory” stresses some dogs. This can be expressed in negative, aggressive behavior as well as in the fact that the dog is overjoyed and cannot relax.
  • Drive: Many dogs find driving stressful. This may be because they are unwell or excited about where it is going.
  • Train, bus or plane travel: Other means of transport are not popular with all dogs either. Traveling on airplanes, where medium and large dogs are accommodated in the luggage compartment of the airplane, can be particularly stressful.
  • Vacation: While we humans usually relax on vacation, the different environment often leads to stress for dogs. They often take longer to get used to.
  • experiences of violence: When dogs are exposed to violence – psychological or physical – it leads to stress and anxiety.
  • changes: Dogs are “creatures of habit”! Changes of any kind can initially cause stress.
  • Health problems: Pain or other health conditions cause stress in dogs. A physical cause for a new stressful behavior in the dog should therefore always be ruled out by a veterinarian.

How does stress manifest itself in dogs?

Dogs deal with stress differently. But there are some signs that indicate that the dog is stressed. These include the following features:

  • The dog barks frequently or consistently.
  • He runs restlessly back and forth.
  • He shows one increased body tension.
  • He trembles.
  • The dog has increased salivation.
  • He often licks its fur or paws (sometimes up to open wounds).
  • He nibbled or destroyed objects or furniture.
  • The dog shows a aggressive behavior (growling, biting).
  • digestive problems such as diarrhea and vomiting can also be a symptom of stress in dogs.

What to do against stress in dogs?

First of all, it is important to know the possible Cause of stress in dogs to investigate. It may be necessary for the veterinarian to examine the dog thoroughly in order to rule out possible illnesses (e.g. thyroid problems). If there are no physical causes, the triggers for the stress must be identified.

The following tips can help to reduce stress in dogs:

  • Get used to Slowly and gently introduce your dog to the stress trigger.
  • For example, only leave the house for a short time at first and then gradually increase the amount of time you leave your dog alone. This is how he gets used to being alone and knows that you will keep coming back.
  • Type clear and understandable instructions.
  • Reward You positive behavior in the dog.
  • Avoid objective stress triggers (e.g. very loud music). This can also cause physical harm to your dog (e.g. hearing impairment). Quiet music, on the other hand, has a relaxing effect on some dogs. Try it!
  • overwhelm the dog. Take enough breaks from your workout.
  • Get professional supportif you can’t manage on your own. There are many professional dog trainers and veterinarians who specialize in behavioral problems.

Which remedies help against stress in dogs?

Medication alone should not be used to solve your dog’s stress problem. Rather, you can supportive in certain situations help. The same goes for home remedies and herbal products.

medication for stress are prescribed by the veterinarian. You may only administer these agents according to the instructions of a veterinarian, otherwise serious side effects can occur. The aim of this therapy is to alleviate the feeling of fear in dogs (anxiolysis). to choose from anti-anxiety sedatives (anxiolytics) and psychotropic drugs, as well as other preparations such as dietary supplements, animal feed, herbal preparations and pheromones. Herbal remedies for stress include, for example Valerian, lemon balm, St. John’s wort or hops.

CBD against stress in dogs

Herbal remedies for stress in dogs include CBD products like CBD oil. Cannabidiol (CBD) is a natural ingredient in the hemp plant. It works medicinally relaxing, analgesic, anxiolytic and calming. For dogs, CBD products can therefore be used as a natural, alternative means of calming them down.

Certain occasions are particularly stressful for dogs, for example New Year’s Eve. The loud New Year’s Eve fireworks have a threatening effect on many dogs. It is difficult to completely withdraw the dog from this noise. In such situations, cannabidiol products can help your dog relax.

It is important that before you buy it, you make sure that the CBD product has little to no trace contains no THC. THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) is the psychoactive component of the hemp plant: it has an intoxicating effect that is completely undesirable in dogs.

Further information

author: dr medical Martin Waitz
Date of last update: November 2022
Sources:
CBD Vital: Reduce stress and insecurity in dogs. https://www.cbd-vital.de/magazin/tiere/stress-und-unSicherheit-bei-hunden-rotten (accessed: November 2022)
Thieme: Medicines for anxiety problems. https://www.thieme.de/de/tiermedizin/arzneimittel-angstproblemen-hund-katze-103079.htm (accessed: November 2022)
Ücüncü, Gülay: The relaxed dog: self-control, impulse control, frustration tolerance. Kosmos Verlag 2019

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