Don’t listen to people who tell you dogs don’t have feelings. Dogs not only experience feelings, but they also have many ways to show them. Just like people, dogs can be anxious and fearful. Yet unlike people, dogs can’t use their words to tell us what they’re feeling. Instead, they use inherent communication skills: behavior, body language and expressions.
You know how obvious it is when dogs are happy: Their tail wags, they jump up and down, and their eyes are bright and wide. But when they’re anxious, the signs are a lot less obvious because every dog expresses anxiety differently. As an owner, this makes it difficult to not only identify if your dog is, in fact, anxious, but also how to go about trying to remedy the situation.
The good news is that it only takes a little research to better understand how dogs show signs of anxiety and what to do about it.
What Are The Physical Signs Of Dog Anxiety?
Your dog’s body language communicates anxiety, but some body language can be confusing. A dog’s posture, tail, eyes and ears are all potential indicators of anxiety. Here’s a brief list of body language that can indicate if your dog is anxious:
- Tail between the legs or lowered without wagging. (In some cases, a dog’s tail will continue to wag even when it’s between its legs.)
- Rolling over on its back submissively when not playing.
- Ears turned to the side or lowered against the head.
- Hiding or retreating when people enter a room.
- Half-moon eyes, where the white inner eyelid makes your dog look fearful.
- Rolling over on its back with legs raised submissively.
- Turning head away or lowering the head.
- Leaving the room or escaping the stressful situation.
What Are Indirect Signs of Dog Anxiety?
Not every dog expresses anxious feelings in a direct way. As an owner, you may not necessarily witness these indirect behaviors. Or they can be so commonplace that you may overlook or misinterpret them. Here are some examples of indirect behaviors that could point to anxiety in your dog:
- Yawning excessively.
- Drooling or chewing excessively.
- Hiding under furniture or comforters.
- Trembling and shaking.
- Seeking affection constantly.
- Barking or howling when family isn’t at home.
- Pacing or excessive activity.
What Are Serious Behaviors That Come From Dog Anxiety?
Some signs of an extremely anxious dog can lead to real trouble. These are:
- Aggressive behaviors, such as growling and snarling.
- Destruction of property, especially furnishings or toys belonging to other pets.
- Leaving the room and urinating or defecating in another part of the home.
Excessive growling and snarling, in particular, are ways that dogs express fear and discomfort. If dogs are punished for growling, they may cease that behavior but escalate further to biting. This is why all of these behaviors are potentially serious and may require professional help as well as owner intervention to relieve the anxiety and stress causing them.
Why Do Dogs Feel Anxious?
Knowing why your dog is experiencing anxiety can help you to create a less stressful situation at home. Here are some of the most common reasons dogs can feel anxious and show symptoms of anxiety:
- Separation anxiety, when owners leave for work or trips.
- Illness or injury.
- Poor socialization when young.
- Past trauma, especially among rescue animals.
- Loud noises and natural events, such as fireworks, thunder and lightning.
- Growing older and experiencing physical and cognitive changes.
What Can You Do To Help Relieve Dog Anxiety?
Disclaimer: This information is not intended to provide any medical advice. If you believe your dog has a health condition that CBD could help with, please consult your veterinarian before administering any CBD product to your dog or before replacing any vet-prescribed medication for CBD.
Once you know your dog is anxious and why, you can formulate a plan of action to make it more comfortable in situations when its anxiety is triggered. It may require making some changes to your dog’s lifestyle, like increasing its activity or using a supplement to help support emotional well-being and relaxation.
Some veterinarians will prescribe dog versions of human anti-anxiety medications. But before turning to prescription medications, you may want to consider behavioral modifications first. Helping your dog to understand it’s in a safe home where no harm will come to it is probably the most effective thing you can do to help relieve anxiety and calm fears.
Another alternative to dog anxiety medications is CBD, or cannabidiol, which is one of many cannabinoids found in cannabis or hemp plants. In 2017, the World Health Organization actually published a full report on how CBD can be used to effectively manage a range of symptoms associated with a variety of health conditions—from pain and anxiety to multiple sclerosis, arthritis and cancer treatment relief.
Studies show that CBD can help to effectively manage anxiety. In dogs, CBD can assist with:
- Decreasing compulsive behaviors, such as biting, scratching, chewing, whining, eliminating, and other symptoms of dog separation anxiety.
- Decreasing autonomic arousal symptoms like fast/irregular heartbeat, panting, and general distressed feelings.
- Alleviating feelings of fear.
- Preventing the longer-term health effects of anxiety.
So if you’re curious about giving your dog CBD oil for anxiety, know that it’s a viable option that’s fully safe but only on one condition: The CBD must be 100% natural, hemp-derived and non-psychoactive. That means it must not contain any THC/tetrahydrocannabinol. Why? THC, the psychoactive compound found in marijuana, is toxic to dogs. In fact, it’s so toxic to dogs that in the last six years, the Pet Poison Helpline has seen more than a 400% spike in calls due to pets accidentally ingesting cannabis with THC. In short: Never—under any circumstances—should a pet be given a product with any amount of THC in it.
Here at Curaleaf Hemp, our pet CBD products are formulated especially for pets using pure hemp-derived CBD and 0% THC. We also use only 100% natural ingredients, and independently test every product via a reliable third-party to ensure its purity.