Fear is the instinctual feeling of apprehension resulting from a situation, person, or object presenting an external threat -- whether real or perceived. The response of the autonomic nervous system prepares the body for the freeze, fight, or flight syndrome. It is considered to be a normal behavior, essential for adaptation and survival; its context determines whether the fear response is normal, or abnormal and inappropriate. Most abnormal reactions are learned and can be unlearned with gradual exposure.
Moreover, the persistent and excessive fear of a specific stimulus is referred to as a phobia. is a persistent and excessive fear of a specific stimulus, such as a thunderstorm. It has been suggested that once a phobic event has been experienced, any event associated with it, or the memory of it, is sufficient enough to generate a response. The most common phobias are associated with noises (such as thunderstorms or fireworks).
Anxiety, meanwhile, is the anticipation of future dangers from unknown or imagined origins that result in normal body reactions (known as physiologic reactions) associated with fear; most common visible behaviors are elimination (i.e., urination and/or passage of bowel movements), destruction, and excessive vocalization (i.e., barking, crying). Separation anxiety is the most common specific anxiety in companion dogs. When alone, the animal exhibits anxiety or excessive distress behaviors.
Profound fear and withdrawal of unknown cause (so called idiopathic fear and withdrawal) has also been noted in certain dog breeds, including the Siberian Husky, German Short-haired Pointer, Greyhound, Chesapeake Bay Retriever, Bernese Mountain Dog, Great Pyrenees, Border Collie, and Standard Poodle, among others. There appears to be a strong familial component, with the likelihood of a genetic influence.
Most fears, phobias, and anxieties develop at the onset of social maturity, from 12 to 36 months of age. A profound form of fear and withdrawal of unknown cause occurs at 8 to 10 months of age. Old-age-onset separation anxiety of unknown cause may be a variant of a decline in thinking, learning, and memory in elderly dogs.
Symptoms and Types of Anxiety in Dogs
Causes of Fear and Anxiety in Dogs
Diagnosis of Fear and Anxiety in Dogs
Your veterinarian will first want to rule out other conditions that might be causing the behavior, such as brain or thyroid disease. The behavior could also be originating from a response to a toxic substance, such as lead. Blood tests will rule out or confirm such a possibility.
If your veterinarian diagnoses a simple fear, anxiety, or phobia, a prescribed medication may be all that is needed. But your doctor will most likely make recommendations based on your individual dog, the fear trigger, and types of behavioral techniques that can be used to alleviate your dog's fears and anxieties.What Can I Give My Dog for Anxiety?
There are medications that can be given to dogs to help with their anxiety, but drugs are not for every pet and are typically implemented only as a last resort in severe instances. There are many natural treatments such as Chamomile and CBD/HEMP. Talk to your vet to see what the best option would be for your pet.
How to Calm an Anxious Dog
If your dog has extreme panic and separation anxiety and needs to be protected until medications can become effective, which can take from days to weeks, hospitalization may be the best choice. Otherwise, you will care for your dog at home, and will need to provide protection from self inflicted physical injury until the dog calms down. You may need to arrange for day care or dog-sitting.
Affected dogs will respond to some extent to a combination of behavior modification and treatment with anti-anxiety medication. If there is a condition that causes itchiness and/or pain, it must be controlled. Your dog may need to live in a protected environment with as few social stressors as possible. These animals do not do well in dog shows.
Behavior modification will be up to you. You will need to teach your dog to relax in a variety of environmental settings. Avoid reassuring the dog when it is in the midst of experiencing fear or panic; the dog may interpret this as a reward for its behavior. Encourage calmness, but do not reinforce the fear reaction. Remember that not all dogs are calmer when crated; some dogs panic when caged and will injure themselves if forced to be confined. Absolutely avoid punishment for behavior related to fear, phobia, or anxiety.
Desensitization and counter-conditioning are most effective if the fear, phobia, or anxiety is treated early. The goal is to decrease the reaction to a specific stimulus (such as being left alone in the dark). Desensitization is the repeated, controlled exposure to the stimulus that usually causes a fearful or anxious response in such a way that the dog does not respond with the undesirable response. With repeated efforts, the goal is to decrease the dog's undesirable response. Counter-conditioning is training the dog to perform a positive behavior in place of the negative behavior (in this case, fear or anxiety).
For example, teach your dog to sit and stay, and when your dog performs appropriately you can reward it appropriately. Then, when your dog is in a situation where it might show the undesirable response, have it sit and stay. The signs involved in an oncoming anxiety attack are subtle; learn to recognize the physical signs associated with the fears, phobias, and anxieties and head the behavior off before it has a chance to take over your dog's behavior.
Living and Management for Fear and Anxiety in Dogs
As long as your dog is on medications, your veterinarian will want to follow-up by conducting occasional blood testing to make sure your dog's blood chemicals stay in balance. If behavior modification does not work over the long term, your veterinarian may want to modify the approach. If left untreated, these disorders are likely to progress.
Most forms of treatment will be done over the long term, possibly years. It generally depends on the duration and intensity of symptoms, as well as the amount of symptoms the dog displays. Minimum treatment averages four to six months.
Prevention of Fear and Anxiety in Dogs
Expose dogs to a variety of social situations and environments when they are young puppies (up to the time they are 14 weeks of age) to decrease the likelihood of fearful behavior. Puppies and dogs that are deprived of social and environmental exposure until 14 weeks of age may become habitually fearful, which can be avoided with only a little exposure during this formative time.
Edited By Jasmine Ward: General Manager of Bark & Purr
Animals suffer from pain like we do, however, they cannot express it verbally as we do. Pain comes in many forms from surgical pain to arthritis and cancer pain. Pain can either be acute or chronic.
So what is Chronic vs Acute Pain?
Acute Pain: Usually this type of pain comes on suddenly and is caused by something specific. This type of pain should not last more than 6 months and goes away when there is no longer an underlying cause for the pain. Some examples of causes of acute pain include Surgery, Broken Bones, Dental Work, Burn, Cuts and Bites. Acute pain fades once the underlying condition is treated. Pets and their parents can resume life as usual.
Chronic Pain : This type of pain is ongoing and often last a lifetime. Meaning, that this pain can continue even after the injury or illness that caused it has healed or gone away. Such as, Arthritis, Cancer and Nerve Pain.
Now that you know the differences between acute and chronic pain, lets discuss some of the common signs of pain.
Common Signs of Pain in Canines:
Common Signs of Pain in Felines:
You are the first line of detection for pain in your pets. Any abnormal and inexplicable changes in behavior can be a sign of pain. Ultimately, if you suspect your pet is in pain, making an appointment with a vet is the next step. Your vet can find the underlying issue causing the discomfort. Sometimes injuries can be apparent such as a wound or broken bone, however, the cause will not always be so obvious.
You're probably wondering what your vet will prescribe you to manage your dogs pain. The treatment or treatments will depend strongly on what the underlying cause is. The most common medications your vet might recommend for you are nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). PetMD suggests these medications can help reduce pain, swelling, stiffness, and any joint discomfort the pet may be feeling. Some of these drugs created specifically for animals include carprofen, deracoxib, firocoxib, and meloxicam. WARNING: HUMAN NSAIDs MAY BE TOXIC TO YOUR DOG, ALWAYS CONSULT A PROFESSIONAL BEFORE ADMINISTERING ANY HUMAN MEDICATIONS TO YOUR PET.
Managing Long Term Pain and Prevention of Pain
Although pain medicines work as a temporary fix, the ultimate goal is pain relief and prevention. A change in food may work towards this goal, because food and other products that are high in omega-3s can helop alleviate joint inflammation.
Depending on the condition, certain supplements may also be recommend. For example, dogs with arthiritis can be given turmeric, glucosamine and chondrotin to help relieve bane and strengthen joints.
Weight management is a great preventative measure and eliminating measure for pain. Extra pounds can cause painful issues like pancreatitis, hip dysplasia, and it can make chronic conditions like arthritis worse. Feeding your pet the proper portion sizes based on their activity levels and keeping them on an exercise regime will keep your pets weight under control.
Other options such as physical therapy and acupuncture may also help relieve pain and discomfort when dealing with recovery from injury or with arthritis.
Overall, You know your pet the best. If you feel like something is wrong with them, trust your instinct and remember signs of pain can be subtle.