Any of us who have faced anxiety know that it can have a number of different sources. Situational anxieties arise when certain conditions are met in a short timeframe, and dogs can face a number of circumstances unique to the pack mind. Every pet will be different, but there are things which can be done to help them be more comfortable during these frustrating times. The first step, of course, is determining the cause of their distress.
Common Causes of Canine Anxiety
Some of the more common causes of situational anxieties in dogs include weather, fireworks, moving, and changes to routine. Once can summarize these situations by simply stating either the pack is threatened (or perceived to be) or separated (or the possibility exists of separation). To a dog, the pack is everything: their family, their friend, their playmate, and their security. Let’s look at how that thought process can lead to anxiety under seemingly innocuous circumstances.
- Loud noises: whether fireworks or thunderstorms, loud noises signal a potential threat to the pack. What often triggers dogs to exhibit anxious symptoms is the lack of seeing the threat — it’s just loud noise which might cause problems with no obvious way to protect the family.
- Traveling: some dogs, like some humans, enjoy traveling and all the wonder and awe it can bring. But to others, leaving the home territory can indicate the need to protect, or be protected from, causing significant anxiety for your pup. Travel is especially difficult if your dog has a history of negative experiences either during or after travel.
- Routine changes: this particular stressor may seem routine to you — leaving for work every day — but your dog may see it as a huge change simply because their alpha human is missing … and how can they protect her if she’s not here? Add in holiday travel and temporary pack members (holiday company), and your dog’s routine may be sufficiently changed to trigger significant anxiety.
Symptoms of Situational Anxiety in Dogs
Now that we know what can stress our dogs, let’s talk about how to determine the language your dog uses to let you know he’s anxious. Just like the large variety of breeds, there are seemingly endless ways a dog can exhibit distress. The easiest way to tell is simply by changes in his normal behaviors, either by being aloof or clingy – whichever is opposite his normal personality. If such changes occur around loud noises, travel preparations, or household changes, it’s likely your dog has situational anxiety, though schedule a visit with his veterinarian just to make sure nothing else is amiss.
In general, dogs show ongoing anxiety via pacing, panting, and vocalizing. The latter is usually sharp and high-pitched and all usually have facial expressions like wide eyes, elevated but back-ward rotating ears, grimacing (lip corners pulled up), and tail carriage down and to the left (right signals confidence).
They may be destructive, either towards their own beds, toys and blankets, or to household items like your bed, favorite shoes, luggage or the wall. It is a sign of frustration and the need to ‘protect,’ which leads to this behavior. While it’s difficult, refrain from punishing your dog after the fact; he simply won’t make the connection and will be confused as to why you’re upset.
Other dogs prefer to hide under blankets, beds, tables — anything which might shelter them from the potential threat. And still others act normal but won’t eat or develop transient diarrhea.
How to Help Reduce Your Dog’s Anxiety
One of the best things that can be done to help your dog through these is to prepare in advance. Many situational anxiety triggers are things which can be anticipated. This allows us to make sure that our pets will have a comfortable place where they can go to be more calm. Include items which smell like you to help them remain calm, and offer chew toys which are hard to destroy. Chewing can ease anxiety as well as serve as an anxiety symptom, with the difference being his overall behavior — destruction usually signals boredom or anxiety, while gnawing methodically indicates healthy endorphin release.
Additionally, things like white noise machines can mask frightening sounds, and diffusion of essential oils can provide calming aromatherapy to the most high-strung of pooches. High value treats can also be a part of this, particularly when used to reward desirable calm behaviors. There are also a number of supplements which could be beneficial, including pheromone sprays and diffusers that can be a useful part of your preparations. Ensuring that this space is always somewhere available and comfortable will be a big benefit, as your pet can seek shelter anytime he needs comfort.
Can CBD Help My Dog’s Anxiety?
You bet! Let’s talk about how … When we administer cannabinoids like CBD, they support your dog’s natural cannabis receptor system, called the endocannabinoid system (ECS for short). The ECS has one main function: listen to and correct cellular stress signals. It accomplishes this task by changing the levels of CBD and THC at the receptor level, causing a variety of chemical reactions which lead to your dog feeling calmer. In short, administration of hemp-based CBD, can have a calming effect on the mind, and is soothing to the body, particularly when situational anxieties arise.
Which Hemp Product is Right for my Dog?
Developed by veterinarians, Canna Companion offers three different canine supportive supplements, all differentiated by CBD:THC and dosed based on your dog’s body weight. When a whole plant product is administered, CBD helps mitigate the negative effects of THC, while allowing THC’s health benefits to shine — one of which limits the sedative effects CBD can have on your dog. We want your dog stress-free, not a cute ball of fur on his favorite bed!
We typically recommend our Regular Strength Canine capsules as the low CBD:THC supports the cannabis receptor system quite well for most conditions. Start twice daily administration ideally 10-14 days prior to the known stressor, continuing for a few days after the stressor is gone. There is no need to continue hemp supplementation if your dog is no longer anxious and stopping “cold turkey” is acceptable.
For those dogs with multiple stressors or who need a punch to the ECS for high-stress times, our higher ratioed Extra Strength Canine capsules are preferred. Begin administration as above, and if your dog needs more during times of extreme stress, it’s okay to give either formulation at twice the labeled dose; for example 2 capsules twice daily on days when a known anxiety trigger will occur.
What if your dog will not take pills, you’re leaving in a few days, or your dog has extreme responses (running through sliding glass doors)? Try our Whole Plant Hemp Oil; with a CBD:THC between the capsule formulations, it’s a great choice for smaller patients and those with strong opinions about capsules — and anxiety triggers. Oils also offer the option of bypassing GI absorption for ECS support in minutes, when administered orally rather than during or after a meal. This method may result in sedation or a wobbly gait, particularly if labeled doses are exceeded, but it also may be just the thing to help your dog relax.
Whatever your dog’s needs, Canna Companion is here to help. Contact our Customer Service team or schedule a professional Consultation today. Our passion is helping your pack member feel his best no matter what routine changes come his way!