When it comes to our four legged friends, the impact of stress has long been underestimated. Stress in humans can lead to health problems, affect our relationships with others and can make us unbalanced, irritable and aggressive towards our surroundings. So, why wouldn’t we think our dogs are stressed out too?
Here are a few Stress symptoms of Dogs.
- Very frequent display of calming signals.
- Aggressive or anxious behavior
- Compulsive behavior
- Dog appears “distant”
- Excessive self grooming
- Frequent barking or whining
- Very frequent urinating.
Many, if not all behavioral problems with dogs are more or less stress induced What can be done?
You must recognize when and why your dog is stressed. We can defuse conflicting situations or prevent them form occurring in the first place. A stressor is something in our dog’s life that causes them stress. Examples of stressors are.
- Death of a person well knows to the dog
- Changing residences
- Death or loss of a fellow four legged friend.
- Being locked in a cage for too long.
- Loud noises (ex. construction, thunderstorms)
When the dog is stressed it increases a hormone called Cortisol in the body. Increased levels of Cortisol can do emotional and physical harm to our 4 legged friends. The reaction to stress can be subdivided into 3 subsequent stages.
- Stage one – The Alarm Reaction Stage. The dog has an interaction with nervous impulses and hormone release leads to optimum efficiency.
- Stage two – The Resistance Stage – During the second stage the dog tries to cope with the situation which lowers his resistance towards other stressors in his life.
- Stage Three – The Exhaustion stage – If the stress persists, the animal can no longer cope. The animal will begin what is called “adaptation disease.”
This means he will revert back to stage one, but the problem will be ongoing. Adaptation disease is caused by a constant increased level of Cortisol in the blood.
Naturally, the dog’s body cannot keep up the sate of alarm forever, and therefore negative behavior will occur. If the strong tension and stressors lasts for a longer period of time the dog will react like the 3 stages above.
A permanently raised level of Cortisol in the blood weakens the immune system of your dog. Further consequences may be diseases of the digestive system such as stomach ulcers, and chronic diarrhea. In the long term it can lead to serious damage to the adrenal gland, high blood pressure, heart attacks and even stroke.
If you feel your dog is stressed out take some time out to make him feel better.
Of course all dogs are different, but this is a great beginning to de-stressing your dog.
- Show them love and security
- Healthy calm breathing with you.
- Bonding time with his/her master
- Give them enough places to withdraw to, rest and sleep.
- Give them a life suitable for a dog
- Let them have contact with other dogs, friendly cats and dog loving people.
- Walks in fresh air
- A healthy diet
De-stressing your dog might just make them a little happier. When they are happy you are happy.