Does your dog look unusually tense and clingy? Is it because you left it alone at home while you were out grocery shopping? Or maybe your dog is constipated. Decoding the cues and behavior of a dog is a difficult-to-master but important skill for dog owners. These cues and signs provide you an opportunity to identify the source of stress and remove it before it influences the health and happiness of your beloved pet.
To help you decode your dog’s body language, we have written this post that will introduce you to the five most common signs of stress and anxiety exhibited by dogs. When your dog behaves abnormally, look for these signs, and if they are present, consult a veterinarian or an expert pet sitter immediately.
1. Ears Pinned Back
Observing the position of your dog’s ears can give you an idea if your dog is feeling stressed or anxious. When your dog is stressed, his ears may be pinned back. However, if your dog has floppy ears, it may become difficult for you to observe any difference in the position and movement of his ears. In such situations, look for other signs of stress, such as excessive panting, furrowed brows, etc.
2. Diminished Appetite
If your dog has lost interest in food or if he is eating small meals only, you should consider visiting a veterinarian as it is a definite sign of stress or an underlying health condition. Make sure you don’t delay the visit as dogs can develop nutritional deficiencies very quickly.
3. Lip Licking
When there’s no food involved, lip licking is a sign of stress. Dogs lick their lips when they feel uncomfortable or threatened around something or someone. It is also an attempt by the animal to prevent their aggression from escalating. So, when you see your dog licking his lips or pulling his lips back in a grimace, back off, look around to identify the source of stress and eliminate it immediately.
4. Excessive Panting
Panting is a normal response when your dog is hot, excited, or energetic. However, if they have not been involved in vigorous exercise, they should not be panting. There are a number of reasons your dog may use panting as a cooling-off mechanism, with heatstroke and chronic illnesses like heart failure and breathing disorders being the most common ones. In addition to this, pain resulting from an injury may also cause them to breathe heavily.
5. Change in Physical Activity
Different breeds of dogs respond differently to stressful conditions. Some may become hyperactive while others may go into a state of avoidance and do not respond to any stimulus. So, if your dog looks hyper-excited and is reacting defensively, make sure you look for other signs of stress that we have mentioned and identify the root cause of anxiety.
Once you have determined the source of stress, there are a number of natural remedies you can use to calm your pet. For example, if your dog is experiencing separation anxiety, you may consider leaving a TV on to make him feel comforted.
Just like humans, exercise is a great stress reliever for dogs as well. Taking your dog on a walk will not only help him get rid of the stress, but will also stimulate the production of the feel-good chemical, serotonin. And if you’re unable to take out time from your packed-up schedule, you can always benefit from our Dog Walking service to provide your dog the much-needed exercise and companionship.