All animals experience stress. Sometimes this isn’t a bad thing. For example, hunger is actually a stress, telling an animal it’s time to eat. But some stress in dogs goes beyond the usual and creates a bit of chaos for them. Understanding what causes dog stress, and being able to spot the signs of stress in dogs, can help you deal with your canine buddy when he is having a rough day.
What Are the Signs of Stress in Dogs?
A dog who is frustrated or upset might bark much more often than usual. This happens when a dog has been confined for a long period of time, is confronting a strange person or a difficult situation, or is startled by something that should not be in his atmosphere, such as that delivery truck in the driveway. Lack of exercise can also lead to excessive barking.
Sometimes a dog will drool when he is stressed out about something. This often happens when he’s in the car, but it might happen at other times. Make sure your dog is not salivating for food or water, and ensure he doesn’t have a mouth injury, as these can also be reasons for excessive drooling in dogs.
Trembling or shaking
Stress in dogs often shows up with shaking, trembling, quivering, or otherwise seeming to be afraid. This sometimes happens when a dog is very scared of something, such as a stranger, a new situation, or a loud sound, like fireworks. Puppies might do this when they are adjusting to a new place.
A dog that is suddenly hiding from you is very stressed out. Stress in dogs can often show up when they are hiding from a difficult situation – the aforementioned fireworks are one reason why they might hide under beds or behind doors. Since they are such social animals, this behavior can be particularly alarming.
Sometimes dogs have skin problems that can lead to scratching, but other times it is a way for them to soothe themselves in a scary situation. If your dog is doing this, make sure there is nothing medically wrong. If everything is fine, then dog stress might be the culprit. Keep a close watch on this, because scratching can become a behavioral problem.
A dog that is constantly licking himself might be worried about something. Again, make sure there is no skin condition or injury that is causing this behavior. If not, then it can be assumed that your dog might be stressed.
Do dogs shed when stressed? You bet they do! Dogs might shed excessively when they are upset about something, and that might give them an uneven, mottled appearance to their fur.
Some dogs can become so stressed that they refuse to take food, even the best of treats. Anytime this happens, assuming that there are no tummy issues or injuries, your dog might be really upset about something.
Just as humans might have sweaty hands when nervous, dogs do the same thing. The sweat glands in their paws go into overdrive, and they might leave sweaty prints on the floor as they walk. If this happens, pay attention!
Other signs of dog stress
There are other clear signs that your dog is stressed. A dog with his ears pinned back and a look of distress, panting, wide yawning, nose licking, excessive sniffing, turning away or avoiding you, and a low tail are all indications that something is not right with your dog.
What Causes Stress in Dogs?
Stress in dogs can be caused by many things, but there are some that will always lead to stress, no matter what. These include a lack of food or water, or general malnutrition, as well as any discomfort, whether it is physical or emotional. Pain, injury and disease can cause serious stress for anyone, dog or human. Fear and distress, as well as the inability to express themselves, can lead to serious stress levels in your dog. Dogs react much the same way humans do to various things, including grief at losing a loved one, arguments, not enough family time, scary events, and the like.
How to Relieve Stress in Dogs
Comfort him/ her
Start by giving your dog comfort when he is stressed by something frightening, and make sure that he has plenty of exercise to work out any lingering issues. Prevent separation anxiety by allowing your pet to be alone for longer periods of time, until he is okay with a whole day by himself. Give him plenty of toys to play with while you are away.
Avoid stress triggers
Watch your dog for the things that trigger stress. If your dog is afraid of fireworks, make sure to be with them on days when fireworks might be going off around your home. If they need their own space, make sure to provide it for them and keep everyone else away from it. If they are wary of other dogs, try to keep them away from dog parks and the like.
See the vet when necessary
If all else fails, a visit to the veterinarian can help. The vet might be able to provide a tailored approach to how to deal with your dog’s stress issues, and might be able to prescribe something to help, especially if the stress is triggered by something like travel. The veterinarian can also rule out any illness, disease and other issues that might be stressing your dog.