How Stress Affects Your Dog's Health

by Jane McDonald August 02, 2017

How Stress Affects Your Dog's Health

It's not uncommon for us to find our dog sprawled out on his bed, seemingly without a care in the world no matter what new adventures or challenges he's had that day. And for many dogs, that is true! Domesticated dogs are generally adaptable (and even enjoy) exposure to new environments, people and activities. But just like human’s, not all dog brains are built the same and some are more sensitive to their surroundings - resulting in easily triggered anxiety.

The Stress

This stress can come from a variety of sources, and when untreated it can manifest itself in a variety of ways including bad behavior and even health issues. Separation anxiety, changes to environment and fear are all common stressors amongst dogs. Similar to human’s body, when a dog is stressed his energy shifts to muscles for fight or flight, and functions like digestion cease and blood pressure is elevated. Shifting back to “normal” after a stressful situation is difficult and if a body exists in a stressed state for too long, it can lead to long term problems. Short term affects are instinctual such as barking to alert danger, digging and scratching to burrow and destruction to establish control. When his reaction to stress are met by scolding as ‘bad behavior,’ this issue is compounded.

What to Do

  1. Eliminate those stressors which are not 100% necessary in your life. For example, remove in-home technology sounds that alarm him, close the blinds that let him see the mailman arrive daily and swap the coat rack he barks nightly at for a few wall hooks. 
  2. Make a list of his stressors that can’t be easily eliminated and identify individual solutions, many of which will be long-term and include desensitization and forming new habits via positive reinforcement
  3. Invest in the affordably priced Isle of Dog’s Chillout Collection, which features calming ingredients lavender, lemon balm, valerian root and tryptophan proven to reduce stress. (Yep, tryptophan is the reason everyone wants to nap after Thanksgiving turkey!)
  4. Use complimentary therapies such as swaddling, soothing natural home fragrances and sounds, and calming activities like an in-home spa day.
  5. Love, love, love! Know that your dog is struggling and be patient and loving as you work together towards getting him used to stressors in his world.

Additional Information from Dog Expert Victoria Stilwell



Jane McDonald
Jane McDonald

Author

Jane is a dog-loving marketer with a passion for writing. She presently works for Denver-based agency OffLeash Communications and spends her free time outside enjoying her beloved state of Colorado and making new furry friends as a top-rated dog sitter on Rover.com.



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