Whether you’re a 9-5 grinder, a full-time parent, a student with a side gig, or a hustling entrepreneur working 24-7, chances are your life is full of stress. Stress management is serious business…from supplements and prescription drugs to shrinks, spas, and beach vacations, people are shelling out big bucks to combat the nasty S-word. You don’t need a wad of cash, however, to fight off the ill effects of stress. Studies show that spending time outside, engaging with family and friends, and enjoying the companionship of a beloved pet can all decrease stress hormone levels.
There’s nothing like a big slobbery greeting from your pupper after a tough day in the trenches. That unconditional love and wagging tail can make just about anything better. But what if your dog is just as stressed as you are? Pets can’t tell us how they are feeling, so it’s up to us to read their cues. Not sure how to tell if your pooch is stressed out? Read on for six telltale signs that your best bud needs to chill.
Six Signs Your Dog is Stressed
He’s Got the Jitters
Pacing and shaking are surefire signs that your dog is anxious. Restless repetitive motions and involuntary shaking mean your dog is not at peace with his environment or something that is happening.
She’s Talking Too Much
Barking and whining are the main ways dogs communicate their needs. A simple bark at the door might mean “I need to go out” while nighttime whining in the crate might be a message that she’d rather snuggle in your bed. But if your dog’s barking and whining is excessive and doesn’t have an obvious cause, it could be caused by nerves.
He’s Got a Case of the Yawns
Yawning is traditionally seen as a sign of boredom or fatigue, but for dogs, it can also mean “I’m stressed!” If your dog’s yawns are longer and more pronounced than normal, it may be a sign that they need a little zen in their life.
She’s Going for Tongue Action
Excessive and repetitive licking can be another sign that your dog is nervous. Drooling is yet another oral signal that your pup’s stress system is in overload.
He’s Losing His Hair
If you’ve ever taken a nervous dog to the vet, you’ve probably seen their hair fall out in piles. Stress and anxiety can increase shedding levels dramatically, so if you find your house is suddenly overtaken with dog hair, your dog might be too stressed!
She’s Having Potty Problems
Many dogs urinate when frightened or intimidated by another dog or another environmental stressor. Chronic stress can also cause frequent urination and bowel issues.
What’s a Pet Parent to Do?
If these signs sound familiar and you think your dog is buried in stress, you might be tempted to toss them a puppy Paxil and hope for the best. But while SSRIs and antidepressants are occasionally prescribed for overly stressed pups, most vets recommend trying less drastic measures first. Just like humans, dogs benefit from a healthy lifestyle that includes plenty of good food, exercise, and quality time with their humans. You can also pay close attention to your dog and try to spot triggers or causes for your pet’s anxiety. If you can remove these stressors from your dog’s environment, you might see their anxiety levels drop.
If these common sense measures don’t help, you do have other options. Some dogs find relief with a compression shirt that provides constant gentle pressure. If separation anxiety is your dog’s main issue, playing soothing music or leaving the television on low can help. Still need help? Consider trying a natural supplement such as organic CBD oil. This super-hyped hemp extract contains no THC and won’t give your dog a buzz, but it might help them calm down.
When to Call in the Big Dogs
If your dog’s stress levels don’t respond to anything and you’re at your wits’ end, it’s time to call in the professionals. Your veterinarian can talk with you about other solutions, including prescription remedies and more significant lifestyle changes. Whatever you do, don’t despair—with time, love, and the right solutions, your type A pup is bound to settle down.