What are signs of stress in a dog?

It’s probably no surprise that dogs often experience stress and anxiety similarly to humans. Even dogs who live in a loving, caring, home can experience stress due to a variety of factors. Although it might not always be easy to pinpoint the causes or signs of stress, responsible dog owners should be able to recognize signs of stress in a dog. How do you know if your dog is stressed or anxious? Keep reading for guidance on how to recognize and respond to signs of stress in dogs. 

Body Language That Indicates Stress in Dogs

Dogs have their own unique way of communicating , and they often express their emotions through body language. The following body language indicates typical exhibits of stress in dogs:

  • Tail tucked in – dogs often tuck in their tail if they are feeling threatened or nervous. If your dog’s tail is tucked in, it may be anxious and feel as though it is in an intimidating situation.
  • Shaking – just like us, dogs might appear shaky when they are nervous. If your dog is shaking, it is probably experiencing a high amount of stress and needs help calming down right away.
  • Ears pinned back – in normal situations, a dog’s ears will be relaxed. Dogs usually pin back their ears when they are feeling intimidated or on edge. This is especially common when the dog is around a person or animal that the may not feel comfortable with.

Stress and Anxiety Behavior in Dogs

In addition to body language, dogs often exhibit certain behaviors when they are stressed or otherwise uncomfortable. This might include:

  • Bathroom accidents – bathroom accidents can occur for a variety of reasons with dogs. Dogs who are otherwise potty trained will often have accidents in the house when their schedule is disrupted, they are uncomfortable in their surroundings, or they feel threatened. If your dog is healthy and does not have any medical issues, but it is still experiencing bathroom accidents, this may be due to stress.
  • Acting up – actions that may be perceived as misbehavior may in fact be an indication of stress in your dog. Repetitive actions like digging, running in circles, escaping and running away, or destroying household objects are typically more common when a dog is experiencing stress. 
  • Panting – dogs can pant for a variety of reasons. If you see your dog panting even they have not exercised, they may be experiencing stress.
  • Yawing, drooling, and licking – similarly to how humans can become fidgety when anxious or stressed, dogs might “fidget” in the form of yawning, drooling, or licking when they are experiencing stress. If a dog is licking excessively, confirm with a vet that this is not due to pain or itching. 

Common Causes of Stress for Dogs 

There are many reasons a dog might experience stress. The most common cause of stress in dogs is separation anxiety.

Dogs are social animals and they thrive on human interaction and affection. Dogs who live with humans often experience separation anxiety because they miss their owners. This can cause them to bark excessively and display other signs of distress.

Other common stressors for dogs include: 
  • Loud noises – this might include fireworks, sirens, crowds, and more. Obviously, you cannot always avoid all loud noises, but it is best to keep your dog’s environment quiet when possible.
  • Unfamiliar locations – moving, boarding, or visiting new locations may make some dogs nervous. Others enjoy going everywhere with their owners. Whether your dog becomes stressed in an unfamiliar location often depends on the dog. 
  • Being around other animals – whether it’s another dog, a cat, or something else, other animals may make dogs nervous. If you are introducing your dog to another animal, make sure to do it in a way where your dog feels comfortable and unthreatened.
  • Disrupted routine – this may be due to traveling or owners changing their schedules. Dogs can become stressed when their routine changes, but you can respond to this by instituting structure back into their daily routine.

Treating signs of stress in a dog 

There are multiple approaches to treating stress in your dog. Often, you will need to adopt a variety of practices instead of expecting just one approach to solve the issue. 

The top way of reducing stress in your dog is obvious: remove your dog from a stressful situation. If they are in an environment that is inducing stress, it is best to remove them from this and let them spend time where they are most comfortable–their home. Unfortunately, doing this is not always possible. If you are traveling, introducing your dog to a new pet, or in another situation where you cannot remove your dog from its stressors, you can try the following:

  • Anxiety vests – anxiety vests are an increasingly popular tool for dog owners to help their dogs de-stress. These vests apply subtle compression to a dog’s torso and chest, creating a “squeezing” sensation that improves blood flow and is proven to reduce stress. This is a great option for dogs with separation anxiety, travel anxiety, and more. 
  • Compile a stress relief kit – many humans have a stress relief kit that they can access in times of need. Similarly, you can compile a stress relief kit for your dog. This might include your dog’s favorite toy, calming pheromone spray, treats, and more. 
  • Talk to your vet – if your dog is exhibiting signs of stress that you are unable to control, talk to your vet for advice. Your vet may prescribe prescription medication or a special diet with the aim of managing your dog’s stress.
  • Natural OTC remedies – there are a variety of pet-safe over the counter remedies that you can try for your dog. This includes pheromone spray, dog-safe herbs and botanicals, and CBD oil. These are great options if your dog is not at the point of needing prescription medication, but you still want to manage their anxiety.

CBD for Dogs

Many people use CBD oil to reduce stress, and this is an option for dogs too! As long as you are using pet-safe CBD oil without any added ingredients that are unsafe for dogs, you can use CBD oil for your dog! 

Interested in trying CBD oil for your dog? Silver Rain CBD is a great place to start. Our Pet Drops are specially formulated to be safe for dogs and cats, and are flavored for your pet’s liking. Check out our Pet Drops today.

*Disclaimer: These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.