How to Recognize the Signs of Stress in Your Furry Friend

How to Recognize the Signs of Stress in Your Furry Friend

Dogs can experience numerous different emotions when stressed out.  It’s important to be able to identify the issues that they have to express their emotions. Trying to understand your pooch’s emotional state is the first step to remove any unwanted symptoms and help your dog feel more at ease.

Decrease in Appetite

It’s very important to contact your veterinarian if your dog suddenly loses interest in eating or stops eating altogether. This could be due to stress, but could be down to an underlying health problem.  These include anorexia, which can cause your dog to refuse to eat. This can lead to drastic weight loss.

Getting Diarrhea, Constipation, or other Digestive Issues

This is more commonly attributed to disease or food intolerance, Gastrointestinal issues such as diarrhea and constipation can be caused by anxiety. If your pooch has any of these issues on a serious scale, contact your veterinarian immediately.  Especially if it’s lasted longer than 24 hours or if his diarrhea happens to contain blood.  Blood in the vomit or stool can lead to a foodborne illness.

Increased Sleeping

A dogs sleeping routine is very strict and as an owner, you will know exactly when he starts getting tired and when he wakes up again.  You should also book an appointment with your veterinarian if your dog is sleeping more than usual or seems majorly lethargic. Lethargy is the first and most common symptom that a dog is sick, injured, or even traumatized. Lethargy can also be a symptom of conditions including diabetes, liver and heart problems, severe dehydration, diarrhea, anemia, hypothyroidism, and poisoning.


Tail tucked, avoiding eye contact, and turning away.  These are all ways your dog displays how uncomfortable he is. Remember, if your dog is avoiding a situation that makes him uncomfortable, this is much better than him showing aggression and it’s best to respect him and let him get on with it.


Lots of dogs react with hiding to anxious and stressful situations, but many will display aggressive behaviors. This can be aggression towards an owner, veterinarian or individual directly interacting with him, as well as indirect aggression directed towards other people or animals nearby.

Urinary Accidents

Accidental urination can lead to several medical issues, such as urinary tract infection, kidney disease or diabetes, but can sometimes be due to high levels of stress. If your dog urinates during a veterinary visit, when strangers visit your home, or in the presence of other dogs, then this can often be linked to stress.

Fur Loss

Fur loss usually occurs in cases of chronic stress in which the dog starts to feel physically affected by the condition it’s suffering from. If your pooch is shedding his fur a lot more than is normal, then it’s important to get it checked out by a veterinarian as soon as possible. Dogs can lose their fur by licking compulsively or by directly tearing fur out with his teeth.

How to Relieve Your Dog’s Stress

Physical contact – try petting your dog and or sitting near him to show him you’re there for him. Physical contact helps both humans and dogs relieve anxiety, stress, and fear so give it a go if you’re feeling stressed yourself.

Exercise – sometimes anxiety can cause uncontrollable energy. When humans are stressed, doctors usually recommend exercise to relieve it. Well, the same applies to dogs.

Play music – playing music specifically developed for pets can sometimes relieve any stress pooches may have, especially if he suffers from separation anxiety and the songs are left on a loop for when you’re away from the house.

Check your own state of mind – reacting to your dog’s anxiety with the extra nervousness of your own can cause your dog to pick up on your emotions and make the situation even worse. No matter what, stay positive if your pooch is feeling anxious or stressed.

Other Stress Relievers

Give them time to themselves – some dogs react to stress so badly that no amount of calming, praising, or reward will work to calm them down. In this case, they need a quiet place with no stimulation where they can just relax and rewind.

Create a safe zone – set up an area in your home where your dog can escape from high-stress events such as parties, fireworks, or thunderstorms. Buy your pooch a favorite ‘security blanket’ such as a toy and visit your dog often.  Do not abandon him! If possible, stay with him until the high-stress event is over. Your presence will make him feel a lot better, trust us!

Remind them of your place – your dog may be feeling out of control. Focus his attention on you and distract him by doing a simple and quick training session. Do simple training commands like “Sit”, “Down”, or “Stay.” This shows him that you’re in control.  When dogs know that you aren’t worried, they can become more submissive to commands.

Over the Counter Dog Stress Relievers

Aromatherapy & essential oils – there are some sprays and balms that are specially formulated for pets that utilize the calming properties of aromatherapy. Rub the formula in your hands and pat your palms on your dogs back – be sure it’s quite far back so he can’t lick it off.

Massages – give your pooch a quick massage. Dogs love having a massage and it really helps them calm down and relax. Massage him by using long, slow strokes as this will work to help soothe his anxiety. You can also use circular movements and work your way all over his body. In no time he’ll be calm and probably asleep!

Dog supplements – these are widely used and can be a very good choice for a stressed dog. You can buy supplements that are a mixture of herbs and flowers that help calm down your dog’s nerves naturally. They can come in many forms, including drops, gums, pills, and sprays.  All you need to do is add some drops to your dog’s food or water.  You can add a few drops onto a treat if your pooch refuses to take pills. You could also crush pill-like supplements and sprinkle them over his food if this is easier.

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