It's not just humans who can become anxious, worried, and stressed out.
Animals, including dogs, can get stressed as well. If you are a dog owner, it's
important to know how to tell if your pet is suffering from stress. Here are
the seven big warning signs to look out for.
1. Pinned-back ears. When a dog is happy, his ears will appear relaxed.
If a dog's ear are pulled back and held low, he may be anxious and disturbed.
2. Excessive or unnecessary panting. Obviously, dogs spend a lot of time
panting -- it's how they stay cool. However, panting can also be a sign of
trouble. A dog that pants constantly, or in circumstances where he obviously
doesn't need to cool off, might be under stress. Look out for shallow breathing
3. Accidents. A house-trained dog who suddenly starts having accidents
all over your home is probably dealing with anxiety and worry. The one major
exception would be if the behavior were a symptom of illness or food poisoning.
4. Changes in eating habits. Anxious dogs are less likely to eat
normally. A stressed canine may eat less, become pickier about what he eats, or
be unusually thirsty. Digestive problems (such as vomiting) can also be
triggered by stress.
5. Antisocial behaviors. For the most part, dogs are friendly creatures
who enjoy being around humans and their fellow canines. That's why a dog who
starts acting differently might be having problems. The primary warning signs
are isolation, hiding, lack of eye contact, or any other avoidant behavior. Any
form aggression (such as growling) directed at either humans or other dogs is a
sign of trouble as well.
6. Excessive barking. Ordinarily, barking is normal canine behavior --
especially when there is an obvious external trigger, such as a wild animal.
However, if a dog barks almost constantly, or for no apparent reason, the real
cause might be stress. Similar rules apply to behaviors like whining or
7. An increase in sleeping. Dogs suffering from stress are likely to
spend more time sleeping, as a means of coping with their mental distress.
Similarly, lethargy or a lack of normal energy can also be triggered by anxiety
Don't worry too much if your dog displays just one or two of the
indicators described above. There can be variances in a dog's regular activity,
so some unusual behavior isn't a big deal. The time for concern is when your
dog displays a larger number of warning signs, and/or his worrying behavior
continues for an extended period of time. It's also important to keep your
pet's individual personality in mind, since what qualifies as normal can vary
drastically from dog to dog.
Watching for signs of stress in your dog will allow you to nip the problem in the bud before it becomes serious. As a pet owner, it's your duty to care for your canine friend, and make sure he is reasonably happy. Anxious dogs are more likely to act out in destructive, negative ways; they may ruin furniture or display such aggressive behavior as barking or even biting. Clearly, a dog's anxiety is bad for everyone, so make sure you learn to spot the biggest potential warning signs of stress in dogs.