Most of you and your friends have pets that well cared for, if not down right pampered. Their lives, in our eyes, are perfect-plenty of food, treats, fancy collars and state of the art strollers. What is there to worry our dogs? I don’t have a good answer, but I do know dogs harbor a lot of anxiety.
I see it multiple times a day. In our practice we have no waiting room so there are no other dogs around, our office is carpeted like a home, we spend 15-20 minutes just talking with pet parents to let the dogs roam and adjust and diffuse very calming essential oils. Yet 1/3 of our patients still show anxious behavior- urinate or defecate, yawn constantly, hide under the furniture or cuddle next to their owner with that terrified look or are reluctant to be examined.
Most of our clients will explain the behaviors are due to abuse prior to adoption or purchase or some other imagined horrific early life experience. The fact is, we can never know and the fear or anxious condition is not healthy for dogs. Such feelings cause the release of fight-or-flight or stress hormones. Although necessary for survival short term, these hormones are unhealthy long term. Anxious dogs are also more likely to runaway from home during fireworks, thunderstorms, home construction etc. Fear is a condition, like any other medical condition, and needs treatment. What do we recommend?
Exposure- Anxious dogs should need exposure to unusual circumstances. Supervised play dates with other dogs and people. A rule of thumb for socializing puppies is one new experience every day. Why not do that with your anxious older dog-or at least 2-3 times a week?
Calming Natural Supplements- Many essential oils help calm dogs without the heavy effects of tranquilizers and puppy Prozac. CBD can also have a calming effect and is very safe at proper dosages. There are also western and traditional Chinese herbs that “reset” the brain's anxious meter. Your holistic veterinarian can help you with methods of treatment and dosages for essential oils, CBD oil and herbs.
You Need to Relax- My biggest obstacle is trying to help an anxious dog with an anxious owner. I find that dog owners are quite uncomfortable and anxious at the veterinarian. They unfortunately, transmit that fear to their dog making it very difficult to solve their dog’s medical problem. I can’t tell you how many times I would like to prescribe calming supplements to some clients. I find these same individuals are uncomfortable around other dog owners as well, making exposure less successful.
Get Help- Dog owners are just that, owners not trainers. A behaviorist or a trainer can be more objective about your dog and show you methods for reducing anxiety and modifying anxious behavior responses. You need to be a part of that instruction. Do not take your dog to an obedience camp and pick it up weeks later. Training is forever, and you need to be an equal partner.
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July is Pet Anxiety Awareness Month, so we are offering 10% off our microchips this month. Unlike the other microchips available, there is no annual membership payment to ensure your dog’s contact information is available if they are lost and rescued.