Is Your Dog Stressed Out?
We all know that stress can be detrimental to our health. It can compromise our immune system, disrupt our sleeping pattern, and just make us feel generally awful. But how do you know if your dog is stressed out? There are certain behaviors to watch for if you think your dog might be stressed. Many of these behaviors may also indicate serious medical problems so it is strongly recommend that you take your dog to the vet if they display any of these behaviors.
Aggression: If your dog is unusually aggressive towards people or other dogs it may be a sign that they are stressed. Aggressive behavior like barking and baring teeth may also be combined with submissive posturing and hiding behaviors. This is a good indicator that your dog is stressed or possibly sick and you should consult your vet.
Unusual Behavior: Any sudden change in your dog’s behavior can be an indicator of stress. A dog that is usually happy and social may start to hide or otherwise isolate himself/herself, an energetic pup might start sleeping all or most of the day, or a normally well behaved dog may start demanding more of your attention by barking or climbing on you. Any of these changes may indicate that your dog is experiencing stress that needs to be managed.
Lack of Appetite: Most of us know that our dogs, if left to their own devices, would hoover up any bit of food that hit the floor. This makes it extremely concerning when we notice that they are not eating all or perhaps any of their food. A lack of appetite may indicate that your dog is stressed out or sick. If you notice your dog is not eating you should consult your vet immediately.
Digestive Issues: Gastrointestinal issues like diarrhea, constipation, or vomiting are usually associated with a food intolerance or other illness, but may also be a sign of stress. If your dog experiences one or more of these digestive issues it is a good idea to consult your vet to determine the cause.
What to Do: If you find yourself with a stressed out dog, there are a couple things you can do to relieve their stress and get them back to normal. First and foremost, see your vet! Your vet should be able to determine if the behaviors you are seeing are caused by an illness or by stress. It is also important to make sure that your dog is getting enough exercise. Just like humans, dogs need a certain amount of physical activity to be healthy. If your dog is not getting enough play time, they may be getting restless and this can stress them out (Imagine being shut inside all day with nothing to do. Not very fun, is it?). Creating a safe space for your dog can also be beneficial. Make sure your dog knows that they have a mat or crate in a certain room that is safe for them to escape to during stressful situations. Lastly, your dog’s diet has a huge impact on their overall health and well being. Make sure your dog is getting the right quantity of food and that their food is providing them all of the nutrients they need. Maintaining your dog’s physical health is the first step toward maintaining their mental health.