Anxiety Disorders in Dogs: Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment. For every stressed dog, there’s plenty of medical and psychological help available through veterinarians, trainers, and canine mental health professionals. This slideshow will explore the signs and symptoms of canine. Can your dog suffer from an anxiety disorder? Yes! Certain breeds are more prone to suffering. Understand why and learn how to treat man's. Dog anxiety affects all breeds of dogs and can lead to serious out any other medical conditions that could be causing your dog's symptoms.
Anxiety Disorder Canine
Some types of aggressive behaviours have been reduced in frequency and intensity with the use of psychotropic drugs that increase serotonin levels Fuller, ; Oliver et al. The development of an aggressive behaviour in dogs is a complicated and multifactor process. The expression of the behaviour can be influenced by many factors, such as the perinatal ones that include the extra uterine environment and the interactions with the mother and the siblings. Experiences acquired during the learning and socialization period, as well as other biological factors also influence in aggressiveness Haug, On the other hand, a medical problem can increase irritability which could later trigger an aggressiveness disorder or worsen the already existing aggressiveness problem.
In this sense, we have mentioned that learning is an important factor in the development of an aggressive behaviour. Mertens explains that basically, the dog learns to be aggressive in order to achieve a goal, following the principal of instrumental conditioning and adds that any daily encounter of the dog with people, dogs or other animals can produce an important impact in the development of unwanted behaviours, including aggressiveness.
Many situations that involve the owner may result in aggressiveness related conflicts, such as those that can happen during walks when the dog is tied up or loose or wondering around without supervision. In these cases the owner tends to reinforce the aggressive behaviour with the behaviour he uses in the previously mentioned situations such as touching, petting, pushing or throwing, talking appeasing or by verbal reprimands and through gestures and postures that include visual contact, corporal postures and emotional responses.
Dominance aggressiveness is one of the most frequent dog aggressions towards people Manteca, It is more frequent in males and in those animals that have reached puberty; signs may be seen at age 3 or less Landsberg, Depending on the motivation, there can be two types of dominance aggressiveness which can receive two different denominations: In the competitive form, the aggression is frequently done in those situations where a resource has enough value as to fight for it.
Pageat considers aggressiveness to be related with social status, or a hierarchic conflict, such as an alteration in the social relationship between man and dog which can present itself in a vague context, which is denominated sociopathy and that affects the social group and not the individual. This disorder is made of two very well differentiated elements: It is also possible that the animal demands being petted or that it stops members of the family from accessing certain places of the house Landsberg, Because of its relation with anxiety, the manifestations of dominance aggressiveness are extremely variable, from aggressive behaviour demonstrations which are well defined and that are associated to a clear affirmation of control, to very subtle vocal expressions.
The difference is how the dog perceives and uses the information obtained from the encounter. As a consequence signals such as aggressions, hierarchic urination, false pregnancies and destructive behaviour may appear between others Pageat, Aggressive behaviour may be directed to one or more members of the household, depending on the relation with the dog, their relative status and their ability to control the dog Mertens, Prior to anything else, measures involving the environment must be taken, such as physical barriers to avoid injuring human beings and also other animals, and teaching the dog how to wear a muzzle.
Punishment and confrontation must be avoided at all costs. Therapy will begin by ignoring the dog completely during a period of time, afterwards to be ignored systematically, which implies not answering to any request of interaction made by the dog as it would increase its control.
It should also be avoided that the dog repeats aggressive manifestations, detecting all of the situations in which they usually appear. The reinforcement of basic education should be done to acquire a greater control over the dog in all of the situations. It is recommended to practice obedience exercises with the leash and muzzle if needed for ten minutes on a daily basis. As behaviour modification techniques, desensitization and counterconditioning are recommended. The time exposed to the stimulus is increased as it becomes better tolerated, avoiding at all costs an aggressive response, but if so, the treatment is to be restarted from the beginning Overall, ; Mertens, This sort of aggressiveness happens between individuals from the same species.
Dogs may be aggressive towards other dogs the same way they are aggressive towards people as we have previously mentioned. There are two different forms, depending to whom the aggression is directed: When conflictive situations appear in dogs that live in groups 2 or more the most classic symptomatology is the increase in frequency of the hierarchic aggressive behaviours.
The information about the stimuli that provoke the fights is fundamental to establish how to act in these situations. This sort of aggression tends to happen in the situations that include competing over valued resources and whose goal is to establish a dominance- subordination relation Mertens, Dogs that attack unknown dogs may have different motivations. The diagnosis should be accompanied by defining the subjacent factors such as fear, territoriality, competition or a learnt behaviour consequence of a specific training or an unintentional or unnoticed reinforcement.
Diagnosing aggressiveness between dogs that know each other is more common in same sex dogs and it implies the existence of one of the two following elements: The subordinate dog may avoid encounters, give up his place to the other dog and take on submissive postures when the other dog approaches.
The highest rank individual tends to respond when the submissive tries to access a resource Mertens, Treatment directed towards aggressiveness between strangers consists mainly on behaviour modification therapy. Attacking dogs must be controlled with a muzzle and leash in public places to prevent injuries.
Owners should work with their dogs desensitization and counterconditioning techniques to replace the unwanted behaviour with the wanted behaviour such as sitting. As soon as it obeys it must be rewarded with a treat.
This exercise should begin at a distance that will allow the dog to stay calm and centre its attention towards its owner; this distance should be reduced as the dog is capable of tolerating the approach without showing any signs of aggressiveness.
It is convenient to practice these exercises daily in short 10 to 20 minute sessions, once or twice a day Overall, ; Mertens, In the treatment of aggressiveness between known dogs it is fundamental to inform and the counsel the owner in the meaning of the hierarchies and the canine expectations in the group, for the compliance of the proposed rules.
Therapy should be systematic and should allow the group to reorganize using its own mechanisms. The dominant one, will go through the doors first, will eat first, receive exclusive attention from its owner and will have access to its favourite resting spots Mertens, Lastly, castration has also been a recommended technique which is relatively successful, but it should be applied over the subordinate and only if its inter-male aggressiveness. Territorial aggressiveness tries to stop intrusion in the territory Pageat, According to Mertens territorial aggressiveness is mainly protective and, because of this, can be based on fear.
A fear response is triggered by a perceived threat towards a valued resource. The majority of individual approaches towards the territory will pass and disappear; however, the fact that an individual disappears may serve as a powerful reinforcement of the aggression. It presents itself when the aggressive behaviour is directed towards a person or animal that is not considered part of the pack. Aggression may be directed towards people or animals that approach a member of the family or the property perceived by the pet.
The term perceived property is used because there is no guarantee that the dog may know the limits of the conventional property Landsberg, The key aspects of the diagnosis are that this sort of aggressiveness only shows itself towards strangers and only when they enter what the dog considers to be its territories Manteca, Signs are the typical aggressive attitudes upright ears, tail held high with constant wagging, an assertive posture with the weight directed forward, onslaught and biting and vocalization growling, barking, etc.
This behaviour can be observed in males, as well as females and it generally appears for the first time before the age of 3 Landsberg, The territorial aggressiveness behaviour modification treatment should be mainly directed to avoid damages towards people and other animals through physical barriers.
It is equally recommended to isolate the dog while there are guests and train him in the use of a muzzle. The use of desensitization and counterconditioning with the progressive approach of people, under the use of a leash is indicated. Move the exercise towards the entrance, presenting triggering stimuli such as ringing the door bell, letting guests and others in, reinforcing through treats, the wanted behaviours.
Aggressiveness because of fear is one of the ways in which the dog expresses its anxiety towards certain stimuli. An organism that finds itself in a situation from which it is incapable of withdrawing from will respond aggressively.
It will attack its adversary without going through the phase of intimidation and without controlling the intensity of the aggression. This aggression tends to be accompanied by neurovegetative manifestations Pageat, It is probably the second most frequent form aggression that lacks an organic cause and is directed towards people, after dominance aggressiveness.
It happens in the same frequency both in males and females. The efficient elimination or withdrawal of the aversive stimulus reinforces this behaviour. Insufficient socialization lack of contact with people during the sensible period, between 3 and 12 weeks of age and inconvenient punishment or traumatic experiences are frequent causes of fear aggressiveness Landsberg, ; Manteca, At first it shows a distinctive defence aggressiveness posture, with its tail tucked between its back legs, lowered crupper, ears directed backwards and, in occasions piloerection.
It also tries to not approach the person, avoiding contact and only being aggressive as a last resource. However, a detailed observation of the animal gives clues that the subjacent motivation is fear, some authors sustain that barking frequently accompanies the signs of this behaviour Manteca, The treatment for fear aggressiveness is made of a behaviour modification program that consists of desensitization and counterconditioning.
To begin with it is important to consider that dogs should be restrained with leashes and muzzles to avoid damage to humans during their training. Foresee a whole situations that provoke a fearful response and avoid them. During desensitization and counterconditioning, exposing the animal to stimuli that cause fear should be progressive and controlled, and with the stimulus at a distance.
Prescribing psychotropic drugs see anxiolytics table, dosage and indications may be necessary to allow the dog to learn the necessary techniques to correct each type of problem. Psychotropic drugs tend to place the aggressive dog with high anxiety levels, in a more emotionally equilibrated state. Like selective inhibitors of the serotonin reuptake, tricyclic antidepressants have anxiolytic, anticonvulsants and antiaggresive effects Crowel-Davis and Murray, Anxiolytics may be useful to control aggressiveness in dogs with history of anxious behaviour.
To obtain the expected effects at treatment 6 to 8 weeks long may be necessary, while the behaviour modification techniques are applied. This is why the use of Psychotropic drugs is an efficient tool in the therapy of aggressive dogs see table of anxyolitics, dosage and indications.
Psychotropic drugs may have unpredicted effects, including the increase of agitation, which will lead to an increase in the clinical risk Reisner, , this is why they must be use with precaution. Dogs suffer from repetitive behaviour disorders which are not well defined. Compulsive disorders in animals are related to states of anxiety and it is frequent to find these sorts of reactions in dogs that suffer stress. When the stress factor is chronic or unpredictable, the animals tend to show inappropriate or excessive behaviour responses, in order to reduce the level of excitement and consequently the harmful effect of the prolonged physiological response Dantzer and Mormede, If the abnormal behaviours are repeated, they can become learn responses when proven efficient in reducing the emotional negative response and the stress associated response.
Luescher calls them compulsive disorders and indicates that they are abnormal behaviours produced in repetitive and invariable ways, and that interfere with normal behaviour. Compulsion is defined as a repetitive and intentional behaviour manifested in a stereotyped way and that presents itself as the response to an obsession; compulsive behaviour is not pleasant, it is executed with the aim to reduce the state of anxiety Hollander, According to Diagnosis and Mental Disorders Statistics guide DSM-IV for humans, the obsessive compulsive disorder OCD is defined as the presence of obsessions and recurrent compulsions that cause a strong stress or functional alterations Jang et al.
The behavior syndrome in animals might not be wholly analogous to obsessive-compulsive disorder in humans, although they might share a similar pathophysiology. The course of this disorder is chronic and increases and diminishes in severity, frequently as a reaction to stress. We have been able to observe that in dogs there also exists a relation with mood and anxiety. The proportion in the animal population is high due to genetic causes, mainly because of the procedures of genetic selection, which include inbreeding as a common practice Robins et al.
In animals, obsessive-compulsive disorders have been divided in three categories: Conflict behaviors have been associated to restriction and impoverishment conditions, for example cannibalism, urine suction and tics Wiepkema, Empty behaviors or empty activities are unconscious actions practiced in the absence of the stimulus under which they would be expressed and that do not pursue any purpose; in dogs empty behaviors such as licking, self-mutilation and masturbation are typical Landsberg et al.
The diagnostic signals of stereotyped behaviors in dog may vary a lot, and some may be more frequent than others, such as licking the nose and lips, shaking the head, yawning, circling, pacing, tail-chasing, self-mutilation, snapping at the air, excessive grooming, and rhythmic barking Landsberg et al.
Stereotypes may have their origin in an organic disorder, thus a neurological exam and a blood analysis are necessary; and in some determined cases a complete dermatological protocol may also be useful. If the problem began when an important change in the environment took place or it appears under determined circumstances, it is probably a stereotype with no organic cause.
For these disorders treatments combining the use of psychotropic drugs and behaviour modification techniques have been effective, especially habituation and counterconditioning Overall, The treatment mandatorily associates chemotherapy and a behaviour therapy Pageat, The reduction of anxiety, or the discovery of methods used to reduce the source of excitement and conflict are the first aspects of the treatment to be investigated in compulsive behaviours.
Another important aspect to value in the treatment is the incompatibility in the dog-owner relationship, which may cause problems and in a very special way when it involves an incoherent education. The environment in which the animal lives must be studied to make sure that the dog has the resources that will offer enough stimulation. Time used for playtime, exercise and attention as well as how they are administered should be analyzed.
It is very important to identify and eliminate, if possible, the environmental factors responsible of the compulsive behaviour. It has been proven that environmental enrichment systems are very efficient, mainly those related to food and social aspects through games with toys or other living beings, if the environment is very poor in stimuli. It is the case of those animals that are locked up for long periods of time on their own in places of small dimensions or with very few occasions of social interaction.
In other occasions, the best treatment is to take the animal to live in a different environment. An obedience training program that completes the possible found deficits should be started Landsberg, If anamnesis indicated a fear problem or it is associated to an anxiety separation problem, the treatment must include a protocol such as those suggested in each of the cases previously described.
The drugs that result to be the most useful are clomipramine, fluoxetine and selegiline Manteca, It is important to take in account that none of them reduce or eliminate stereotypes in all of the treated cases, which is why sometimes it is necessary to try various treatments before obtaining a satisfactory result. See table of anxyolitics, dosage and indications for dogs. As we have described in the most important anxiety related disorders, the therapeutic management is the implementation of a battery of combined therapies to reduce the state of anxiety, which will depend on the degree of intensity and if there is an involvement brain neurochemistry.
The best tools to correct or minimize behaviour disorders consequence of anxiety are behaviour modification techniques and the use of psychotropic drugs.
Therapy must begin with a relaxation protocol which predisposes the animal to a better acceptance of the upcoming treatment. Afterwards, psychopharmacology is used and finally behaviour modification techniques such as habituation, desensitization and counterconditioning. It is advisable to include within therapy at least two daily sessions of relaxing massages which must be set in a tranquil place, without any noise and if possible with relaxing background music.
It is convenient to do these sessions during minutes until making the animal reach a relaxed state in which it almost falls asleep.
During the sessions the animal should remain seated or lying down and be rewarded for its tranquil and relaxed attitude. The owner may gradually add some distractions during these exercises, such as clapping or moving a few steps away from the dog and then returning to the initial position Neilson, It is more and more frequent in veterinary medicine that owners are interested in finding help for their animals which have anxiety related disorders.
Psychotropic drugs are used to compensate the imbalance in the chemical substances of the central nervous system. Since long ago, anxiolytic drugs have been used in humans and animals.
Anxiety blocks the learning mechanisms, incapacitating the animal to respond efficiently and making it even more susceptible to anxiety, generating a vicious circle. Some behaviour disorders may ne reduced both in frequency as well as severity with the use of psychotropic drugs which produce modifications in the neurotransmitters Mills and Simpson, Serotonin reuptake selective inhibitors ISRS are classified as antidepressants and their use in veterinary is due to its anxyolitic effects.
Fluoxetine is the most used in pets to treat behaviour problems and its most frequent use includes the treatment of anxiety Crowell-David and Murray, Benzodiazepines are part of the most used pharmacological group in the treatment of anxiety nowadays. The main behaviour modification techniques used in veterinary are habituation, systematic desensitization and counterconditioning. Habituation and counterconditioning are use to increase the threshold in which the animal responds to a specific stimulus or situation.
This procedure requires the identification and ranking of the aversive stimuli, the animal relaxation training, the identification of the animals responses at an acceptable level, the presentation of the stimuli that trigger the problem, by order of range, and the reinforcement of learning Mills, Counterconditioning leads to the extinction or the control of the unwanted behaviour; this is achieved by teaching the dog another behaviour, in this case wanted, which interferes competitively with the execution of the unwanted behaviour.
Once the dog learns how to do the competitive behaviour which is incompatible with the unwanted behaviour, a desensitization technique can be started Overall, In the Animal Behaviour Clinic of the Veterinary Faculty, of the Complutense University of Madrid, we have carried out a series of several clinical trials studying a therapeutic efficacy of different drugs in anxiety states in dogs.
The efficacy of the used methods in the different dosage regimes has been studied. All anxiety disorders in dogs have been grouped into two general categories in accordance with clinical casuistic: We have experienced several benzodiazepine drugs together with the fixed therapy. In addition, fluoxetine and a common behaviour modification technique has been also used. The main published results concerned the use of diazepam, while the data on the clorazepate and alprazolam administration have not been published yet.
There exists possibility in efficacy discrepancies and adverse events between different benzodiazepines. In the first study 40 dogs from different breeds, age and gender with anxiety disorders were included Journal of Veterinary Behaviour, , 4, Fluoxetine, diazepam and behaviour modification as therapy methods have been used. The dogs were grouped into two diagnostic categories, according to presence or absence of anxiety and aggressive behaviour. The dogs were also classified in 4 other groups: Counterconditioning Counterconditioning involves consistent and repeated pairing of a stimulus that evokes an unpleasant response with a positive stimulus until a positive association is made.
In either case, the goal is for the dog to have a positive experience eg, storm-phobic dog associating a treat with thunder, dog-reactive patient associating a tennis ball with an approaching dog. The Threat of Flooding Flooding is the process of exposing an anxious dog to the frightening stimulus at maximum intensity until the dog stops reacting anxiously. Although the objective may be to habituate a dog to the stimulus, resulting in gradual lessening of the unwanted response through repeated exposure, flooding can actually increase anxiety.
Flooding can result in learned helplessness if all efforts to escape the stimulus have been thwarted. Response Substitution Similar to counterconditioning, response substitution involves replacing an undesirable response with a desirable one. The primary challenge with counterconditioning and response substitution is that some owners perceive the dog as being rewarded for undesirable behavior. It is important to explain that the dog is learning a different response; the patient will not hide and shake if it is eating a treat or bark and lunge if it focuses on a tennis ball.
The short-term, as-needed use of benzodiazepine eg, alprazolam, diazepam can reduce anxiety while increasing appetite, potentially making counterconditioning and response substitution more successful. For dogs that are more contextually anxious or fearful eg, during storms, fireworks, family [children] visits , short-acting benzodiazepines could be used alone.
Trazodone, an antidepressant believed to inhibit serotonin uptake, also can be effective alone or in combination with a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor SSRI , tricyclic antidepressant TCA , or benzodiazepine. Medical Management of Behavioral Problems. Essential oil of lavender—burning to volatilize it, applying to a bandana or bedding—can help decrease anxiety and can be particularly useful for anxiety during car rides.
Tablets with a blend of Magnolia officinalis and Phellodendron amurense extracts Harmonease, harmoneasevet. The effects of fear and anxiety on health and lifespan in pet dogs. Feline fear and anxiety. Ulcers, the runs, and hot fudge sundaes. Canine anxieties and phobias: An update on separation anxiety and noise aversions. Dogwise, , pp 53,55, Behavioral Problems of Dogs.
The Merck Veterinary Manual. Effects of reconcile fluoxetine chewable tablets plus behavior management for canine separation anxiety. Use of clomipramine, alprazolam, and behavior modification for treatment of storm phobia in dogs. Use of trazodone as an adjunctive agent in the treatment of canine anxiety disorders: Comparison of the efficacy of a synthetic dogappeasing pheromone with clomipramine for the treatment of separation-related disorders in dogs.
Evaluation of dog-appeasing pheromone as a potential treatment for dogs fearful of fireworks. Sheppard G, Mills DS. Retrospective analysis of the treatment of firework fears in dogs. A prospective study of two self-help CD based desensitization and counter-conditioning programmes with the use of dog appeasing pheromone for the treatment of firework fears in dogs Canis familiaris.
Long-term follow-up of the efficacy of a behavioural treatment programme for dogs with firework fears. Effects of a synthetic dog appeasing pheromone DAP on behaviour problems during transport. Gaultier E, Pageat P. Aromatherapy for travel-induced excitement in dogs. Harmonease chewable tablets reduces noise-induced fear and anxiety in a laboratory canine thunderstorm simulation: A blinded and placebo-controlled study. Comparison of the effectiveness of a purported antistatic cape the Storm Defender vs.
Cottam N, Dodman NH. The effectiveness of the Anxiety Wrap in the treatment of canine thunderstorm phobia: Blackwell Publishing, , pp For global readers, a calculator to convert laboratory values, dosages, and other measurements to SI units can be found here. Material from Clinician's Brief may not be reproduced, distributed, or used in whole or in part without prior permission of Educational Concepts, LLC. For questions or inquiries please contact us. Clinician's Brief provides relevant diagnostic and treatment information for small animal practitioners.
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What are the best approaches to consider when faced with an anxious canine patient? Addressing Any Behavior Problem Manifestations of chronic stress include immunosuppressive effects subjecting patients to increased likelihood of recurrent infections , compulsions, and altered blood flow to organs resulting in susceptibility to further ailments [eg, gastric ulcers].
Effective Client Counseling for Behavior Issues Avoidance Avoidance of an anxiety-provoking trigger is important, especially in the early stages of treatment, but is often difficult to achieve.
Start the dog on appropriate medication s. Implement a behavior modification plan consisting of desensitization, counterconditioning, and response substitution. The goal is to give the dog the tools necessary to cope and learn. Suggested Reading Generalized anxiety. Author Information show hide.
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How to Help A Dog With Separation Anxiety
Separation anxiety is one of the most common and most devastating behavioral conditions diagnosed world-wide in pet dogs. In the absence of treatment. In this article Dr. Stephanie Schwartz compares separation anxiety in pets to specific emotional disorders in humans, stating that separation reactions in dogs . Dogs that suffer from anxiety have a host of symptoms, such as barking, pacing, panting, trembling, excessive licking, hiding, climbing onto you.