Stress, in general, is something that can have serious physical and mental affects on your dog.
As with humans, dogs feel two kinds of stress: eustress comes from something good like chasing a ball, getting a new toy, and greeting you when you come home. Distress comes from something your dog perceives as bad like getting a vaccine shot, having a stranger in the house, being ill or injured and moving to a different home.
When your dog is stressed, chemical changes take place in her body; more cortisol and adrenaline is released. But eventually her body resets its chemical balance and all is well. However, continual stress takes a heavy toll on a dog’s body.
Stress can cause your dog to become physically ill because her immune system is out of whack. She’ll become prone to infections, diarrhea, vomiting and anorexia. She’s likely to become depressed as well as anxious. You’ll find her to be listless, apathetic and wanting to hide and lie down. To cope with excess stress, she may mutilate her paws and fur by scratching constantly. She may tremble, pant or drool.
What can you do to help de-stress your dog?
With all of our advice, keep in mind that each and every dog is different. You need to do research in advance so that you can make a responsible decision that makes sense for your specific dog and situation. Here are some things that may help you reduce your dog’s stress level:
First, take her to the vet to rule out any physical cause of her stress such as an illness or hidden injury.
At home, don’t leave her loose in the house while you’re away; get her a roomy crate and fill it with her blankets and a toy or two. She’ll rest safely and comfortably until you get home.
Exercise is a great cure for an over-stressed dog. Take her for a walk, have a romp in the backyard, or go to the dog park for some socialization and fun with other dogs.
Try massaging her neck and shoulders to relax her. Some dogs even respond well to aromatherapy; use the scents of lavender and vanilla to soothe a stressed dog. Search the web and you’ll find many homeopathic stress remedies like valerian root or natural tranquilizer blends like Calm Stress, Rescue Remedy, Bach’s Flower Remedy, and Aconite 30. These are great for dogs that fear thunderstorms, being left alone, going to the vet or car rides.
Always keep in mind that your dog is stressed for a reason. Do what you can to identify the reason and then help your dog find a way out of the physical and emotional stressors that are reducing her quality of life. Good luck!