19 signs your dog may struggle with anxiety

Moving to a new home, adjusting to another animal or child in the house and travel are just some of the stressors our pets may experience throughout their lives. But what happens when you notice something is up with your dog even during their usual routine? Dogs communicate with us all the time, but unless you’re tuned into their body language it can be hard to pick up. Here are some signs to be aware of that your dog might be anxious.

1. Restlessness 

If your dog can’t seem to wind down, it may be a sign of stress. An anxious dog may have wide, alert eyes and a tense body even while lying down. Keep note of any changes in their sleeping patterns and discuss with your dog’s vet. Stressed dogs may sleep more often or have trouble sleeping and both can lead to bigger health issues such as stiffness, depression or increased anxiety.

2. Pacing 

Anxious dogs often pace the house or backyard, either wandering back and forth aimlessly or checking the same places more often, such as a favourite window. A stressed-out dog might be on 24/7 patrol with no explanation and the toll of being hypervigilant can stress them out even more.

3. Shaking 

Shaking can be a sign that your dog is stressed, but this is a tough one because dogs can also shake when they’re excited or cold. Check with your vet to rule out any health concerns too.

4. Flattened ears 

The position of your dog’s ears can be a huge indicator about how they’re feeling. If your dog has their ears straight back it may be a sign that they’re feeling upset.

5. Whale eyes 

If the whites of your dog’s eyes are more visible than usual, it could be a sign that they’re afraid or stressed. Just like ears, eyes are a major hint at your dog’s mood.

6. Freezing in place 

A dog may freeze in place if they don’t feel safe or confident. If your dog suddenly stops walking and won’t move, don’t yell or get frustrated. Your dog may be cluing you in that something seems off.

7. Showing gums 

Stressed dogs may curl their lips up to reveal their gums and teeth. Snarling can lead to nipping or biting so give your dog plenty of space if they show this behaviour.

8. Tucked tail 

A tucked tail is a sign that your dog is scared or unsure. Keep a soothing tone or don’t make sudden lunges towards any dog with curled lips or a tucked tail.

9. Hiding 

Hiding under furniture is a classic sign that your furry friend is feeling stressed or afraid. It can also be a sign of injury, so it may be time for another vet visit!

10. Whining, growling and howling 

Unusual vocalisation, whining, growling, and howling can all be clues that your dog needs you to listen up.

11. Destructive chewing 

Whether it’s a toy or bone, chewing is an everyday part of life for our dogs. Destructive chewing behaviours are often part of a teething phase that puppies grow out of, but dogs that struggle with separation anxiety will express frustration and relieve built-up stress through chewing. Shoes, furniture legs, your favourite throw blanket – nothing is safe! Check out these five ways to help keep dogs happy while you’re at work.

12. Scratching 

Like chewing, scratching can release built-up stress so dogs may scratch at themselves even if they’re not itchy. Excessive scratching can lead to hair loss or it could be a sign of skin irritation, so it’s best to check with your vet.

13. Seeking attention 

Just like us, our furry friends may want a little extra love and attention if they’re feeling anxious. Your dog may jump into your lap or lean on you for comfort.

14. Drooling 

An anxious dog may produce excess saliva, and you might notice them drooling or foaming at the corners of the mouth.

15. Yawning or lip licking 

Excessive yawning, lip licking or sneezing could also be a signal that your dog doesn’t feel in control and is trying to comfort themselves.

16. Shedding 

A sudden change in shedding habits may be a hint that your dog is feeling stressed. It can also be a sign of several health conditions, so keep note of what you’re seeing and discuss it with your vet.

17. Vomiting or diarrhoea 

Just like us, dogs can get nauseous and vomit when travelling or when their day takes a turn. They can also experience diarrhoea if there are major changes in their environment, food or routine. Check with your vet if this happens often.

18. Low energy and withdrawal 

If your dog seems ready to leave the park or finish up a walk early, it could a sign of anxiety. Dogs can expel a lot of energy when stressed so it’ll tire them out sooner. If your dog stops greeting you at the door, sitting with you on the couch or seems less interested in belly rubs and play sessions, it could also be a sign of depression and anxiety.

19. Loss of appetite 

It seems hard to believe that dogs could turn up their nose at their favourite treats, but they may lose interest in treats and meals if they’re feeling particularly stressed. Since dogs refusing food can be a big sign that something isn’t right, it’s best to get your vet to check how they’re doing if this goes beyond turning up one meal.

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