Can Dogs Have Anxiety Attacks?

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Can Dogs Have Anxiety Attacks?

Caring for your dog entails making sure he’s healthy, both physically and emotionally. This can be especially challenging, because, unlike a human child, a dog can’t describe in words what may be bothering him. Yet, that doesn’t mean he’s not telling you about a problem. In some cases, a behavioral problem may indicate something more serious, such as an anxiety disorder.

Can Dogs Have Anxiety Attacks?

When confronted with “bad” behavior from their pets, many people find it difficult to believe that dogs can suffer from the same psychological disorders that affect humans. They’re often surprised when they ask their veterinarian “can dogs have anxiety attacks?” and get an affirmative response. In fact, dogs are more prone to anxiety attacks than humans, because they can’t be made to understand certain situations.

Anxiety is caused by a fear response that the autonomic nervous system learns and incorporates into its responses to certain situations. This is how any animal, including humans, develop the fight or flight response. When a situation frightens the dog, he can become traumatized by the event, leading him to watch for certain conditions common to that situation. If those factors are observed, the dog becomes anxious and begins to fear a repeat of that situation.

For instance, if you leave your puppy alone, during a thunderstorm, the thunder and lightning may frighten him. He may associate being left alone with the noise and light flashes of the storm, so he will fear being left alone in the future. This will cause him to look for indications that you’re about to leave, prompting him to become anxious.

How Can You Tell if Your Dog Suffers from Canine Anxiety Disorder?

There are different canine anxiety symptoms that may affect your dog, ranging from behavioral changes to autonomic nervous system responses.  While occasional bad behavior may not indicate anxiety, repeated episodes, especially those preceding similar circumstances, may indicate a larger problem. In some cases, less severe symptoms may go unnoticed without more careful observation.

Behavioral Symptoms:

  • Uncontrollable urination or bowel movements
  • Destructive behavior, especially when left alone
  • Loud or excessive barking

Physical Symptoms:

  • Withdrawal or hiding
  • Tucked tail
  • Trembling or shaking
  • Unusual inactivity
  • Diarrhea
  • Lesions and sores, which resulted from excessive licking or biting


Treating Your Pet for Canine Anxiety

Anxiety results from traumatic experiences, indicating this is a learned behavior. As such, it may be possible to help your dog unlearn those behaviors. This may require working with a professional trainer and investing a significant amount of time in the process. This is a long-term solution to a problem you’ll want to resolve much sooner.

In addition to avoiding future damage, which is an undeniable concern, there’s also the health and happiness of the dog to consider. There are canine anxiety drugs that can help calm your dog, though they can take time to take effect.


Depending on the situation and the severity of the anxiety, some owners choose to hospitalize their dogs in the beginning. This can be beneficial, because it may take several weeks for the medication to begin helping the dog. Many owners simply medicate their dogs at home and take the extra time to soothe their pets and help reduce stressors in their environments. A combination of medication and behavior modification can give your dog the best chance for overcoming his anxiety and reduce instances of attacks.
Common medications proven effective for reducing canine anxiety include:

  • Alprazolam
  • Amitriptyline
  • Buspirone
  • Clomipramine (Clomicalm)
  • Dexmedetomidine (Sileo)
  • Diazepam
  • Fluoxetine (Reconcile)
  • Lorazepam
  • Paroxetine
  • Sertraline

Additionally, vitamins and nutritional supplements may help. Vitamins that contain L-theanine and s-adenosyl-methionine (SAMe) affect the neurotransmitters in the brain. By regulating dopamine and serotonin levels, the dog will be less likely to experience anxiety. These products may cause nasty side effects. It is highly recommended that you try CBD Oil for Pets. CBD comes from the marijuana plant but does not contain any THC. The product is 100% legal but many companies still only sell hemp oil. Prana Pets offers affordable, and potent CBD Oil for pets.

If you suspect your dog suffers from panic attacks and anxiety, your first step should be to consult your veterinarian. Together, you can discuss the different treatment options and whether or not behavior modification training will be helpful. You can also learn more about the various medications and learn about the side effects of each drug. This will help you make an informed decision regarding the emotional health of your pet.

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