Pet ex­pert PRIYA PODUVAL ed­u­cates us about symp­toms of stress in dogs & how to cope

Citadel - - CONTENTS -

Like hu­man be­ings, there are be­havioural changes in dogs too. The changes can be seen when the dog starts act­ing out, or it seems to be un­usu­ally tense, clingy and dis­tant. Of­ten, the pet par­ents are obliv­i­ous to such be­havioural changes, which make them won­der what could be the plau­si­ble rea­son for sud­den changes in their dogs. In or­der to help you rec­og­nize when your pet needs a break, pet ex­pert Priya Poduval talks about the com­mon signs of stress in dogs, along with some causes and tips, which can help pet own­ers to fight stress that causes harm to their beloved ca­nines. Pet ex­pert and Ci­tadel guest colum­nist


ed­u­cates read­ers about the com­mon symp­toms of stress in dogs, and how pet par­ents can help by spend­ing more time, pre­vent­ing stress­ful sit­u­a­tions, and keep­ing things as rou­tine as pos­si­ble for their beloved ca­nines.


You may see a cres­cent shape of white, as they look side-to-side, which is called the ‘half-moon eye’. Of course, that doesn’t mean red eyes are bet­ter. Like hu­mans, that of­ten means the dog needs rest.

Laid Back Doesn’t Mean Laid Back:

Dog-ears dif­fer, but stress makes them re­act one of two ways. Some ca­nine ears be­come more erect if they’re un­easy, but many pull back or lay flat, be­com­ing al­most ‘pinned back’, as it sug­gests. Pet par­ents should know the usual po­si­tions of their dog’s ears, be­cause it will let them know when their dogs shift into a po­si­tion that in­di­cates stress.

Mind the Gap:

More teeth or gums than usual? Are their lips curled back? It’s vi­tal to no­tice that curl be­fore it be­comes a snarl, the snarl be­fore a snap, and a snap be­fore a bite. Ac­cord­ing to the Vet­street web­site, if a dog is ex­pe­ri­enc­ing stress, even its whiskers can stand up more point­edly.

Stress Sounds:

In this case, the bark isn’t worse than the bite; but it could mean stress. Dogs may have other ag­gres­sion is­sues, but don’t dis­count stress as one of the causes of ex­cess vo­cal­iza­tion. It may be less than bark­ing. Growl­ing, whin­ing, whim­per­ing, or sim­ply ex­cess pant­ing are com­mon in­di­ca­tors of an anx­ious pooch.

Re­duced Food In­take:

No joke, one in­di­ca­tor of dog anx­i­ety is their food in­take and how fast (or slow) it comes out the other end. As the web­site Pet MD points out, a de­crease in ap­petite might be due to stress. Also, gas­troin­testi­nal is­sues like di­ar­rhoea and con­sti­pa­tion can be caused by anx­i­ety. A Tail to Tell: Be­fore we reach the end of our signs, we need to reach the end of the dog. A tail can aban­don its nor­ma­tive po­si­tion and take poses that in­di­cate stress. A tail be­tween the legs is com­mon, but it may also be straight down, or sim­ply wag­ging at the tip.


It seems odd that yawn­ing would be con­sid­ered a sign of stress; wouldn’t it just be a sign of tired­ness? But the stress yawn is usu­ally seen in con­junc­tion with other be­hav­iours, such as avoid­ance or pinned ears.


Dogs gen­er­ally pant to cool them­selves down when it’s hot or they’ve been ex­er­cis­ing. If your dog is pant­ing for no ap­par­ent rea­son, with ears pinned back and low, this can be a sign of stress. Be care­ful if the dog sud­denly stops pant­ing and closes its mouth, as it may be es­ca­lat­ing to­ward bit­ing.

Ex­ces­sive shed­ding:

All dogs seem to shed, but have you ever no­ticed how much hair can come off when your dog is stressed? Ac­cord­ing to PetCareRX, shed­ding is one of the most eas­ily rec­og­niz­able signs, which in­di­cates that the pup is feel­ing a bit anx­ious. You might see this hap­pen in the vet­eri­nar­ian’s of­fice, as you ca­ress your dog in the exam room and the hair cov­ers your hands and the floor. Ex­ces­sive shed­ding due to stress can also be trig­gered by big life changes at home, like moving, adopt­ing an­other pet, or a fam­ily mem­ber moving out.


Does your dog ex­hibit signs of stress with phys­i­cal symp­toms? Loss of ap­petite, vom­it­ing, di­ar­rhoea, skin prob­lems or al­ler­gies can all be signs of stress in man’s best friend. If any of these phys­i­cal symp­toms don’t have an ob­vi­ous cause, stress could be your prime sus­pect, but you need to check with your vet to make sure your pet is not suf­fer­ing from se­ri­ous med­i­cal ail­ments.


Does your dog howl or bark a lot? Ex­ces­sive bark­ing, whether in­side or out­side the house, can be a sign of anx­i­ety. Try to find a pat­tern to the bark­ing, in or­der to de­ter­mine the cause of anx­i­ety. Does it hap­pen when you’re away from home or when strangers come to the door?

Other Full-Bod­ied Prob­lems:

The re­al­ity is, a dog’s en­tire body lan­guage comes into play when be­set by stress. Other fac­tors to take into ac­count are: G Un­nec­es­sary shak­ing or shiv­er­ing G Tense mus­cles G Ex­ces­sive drool­ing G Itch­ing and scratch­ing G Lick­ing lips and nose


Rec­og­niz­ing your dog is ex­pe­ri­enc­ing stress is a step in the right di­rec­tion, but now you need to find ways to help it cope with anx­i­ety. I asked my vet for some tips on keep­ing my dog’s life as stress-free as pos­si­ble. Here are some of the ideas, which can keep the dog away from stress.

Keep things as rou­tine as pos­si­ble:

Rou­tine is im­por­tant for dogs, just like it is for young chil­dren. They suf­fer less stress when they know their rou­tine, from where they sleep to what time of day they go for a walk or eat.

Pre­vent stress­ful sit­u­a­tions:

If you know, for ex­am­ple, your dog doesn’t do well in crowded sit­u­a­tions, don’t walk him on a busy re­cre­ation trail. If your dog is stressed when you aren’t home, crate train­ing might bring him some com­fort.

Ex­er­cise of­ten:

Ex­er­cise can be a great stress-buster for your dog as long as it’s re­lax­ing. Repet­i­tive games of fetch at the dog park can ac­tu­ally cause stress in some dogs, so make sure you find the right bal­ance.

Spend more time to­gether:

If you can, spend more time with your dog to re­duce stress. Work­ing out in the garage? Bring your furry friend out there with you. He craves be­ing near you and it’s good for its soul and yours as well.

Stick To Rules:

Dogs ex­pe­ri­ence less stress when they know what’s ex­pected of them. Set your house rules and be firm, yet gen­tle about any dis­obe­di­ence. Your dog wants to please you, but can­not pos­si­bly suc­ceed if the rules keep chang­ing.

So by work­ing with your dog and set­ting clear bound­aries, you can usu­ally pin­point the sources of stress, which can help your dog live a less anx­i­ety-rid­den life.

Ears up­right shows anx­i­ety

Tail be­tween the legs de­notes distress

Cres­cent shaped whites of the eyes in­di­cat­ing a lack of rest

Priya Poduval

Snarling is a sure sign of an ag­gres­sive mood

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