Pet expert PRIYA PODUVAL educates us about symptoms of stress in dogs & how to cope
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.
HOW DOWE KNOW IF THE DOG IS STRESSED? Notice the Eyes:
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.
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.
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
HOW TO HELP THE DOG TO OVERCOME STRESS
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 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
Snarling is a sure sign of an aggressive mood