Causes, signs and ways to overcome anxiety in dogs

Keeping our dogs happy and healthy.
Keeping our dogs happy and healthy.

WE worry about the health of our bodies and diet but most of us don’t consider our dogs’ mental health.

This is concerning, as many suffer depression and anxiety, says Dr Kate Lindsey, of Kalmpets Animal Behaviour Centre.

“A national survey on mental illness published by the Australian Bureau of statistics indicates one in four Australians suffer from a mental illness at some point in their lives,” she said.

“The same is thought to be true of our companion dogs.”

Dr Lindsey shares her wisdom on anxiety and our furry friends.

 

Common causes of anxiety in dogs

Inbreeding and pedigree collapse

Negative experiences in early life

Lack of choice and not having needs met

 

Signs of worry

Panting in the absence of exercise or heat

Urination (fear or excitement)

Diarrhoea

Trembling in absence of cool weather

Moving in slow motion

Dilated pupils in absence of darkness

Licking lips in absence of a meal or drink

Yawning despite a superb nights sleep (adult dogs only need about eight hours sleep in 24)

 

Tops ways to overcome anxiety

Predictable daily routine

Balance of brain exercise and physical exercise

Humans to have realistic expectations and to be their voice

A safe place in the home

 

When is medication needed?

The role of medication is to improve brain function by targeting mood circuitry, which leads to increased ability to learn, optimising our ability to teach new behaviours. Preferred medications are from the anti-depressant group, not because the patient always has depression, but because it is what this broad group of medications are registered under. The most common myth about these medications is that they will cause your dog to become a zombie or somehow change their personality. They can cause some mild sleepiness during the first week of use but will never cause sedation or ‘zombie-dog.’ Used as part of a complete plan, medication can speed up rehabilitation.