The most effective way to help your dog’s anxiety is to focus on behavior modification and training. When it comes to external factors like noises, places, people, and other pets, you can either focus on avoidance or train your dog to have a less anxious reaction to stimuli. For example, dogs with anxiety due to loud thunder during storms can benefit from training with storm sounds. These sounds are gradually increased for as long as the dog is calm, and he is given rewards as the sounds increase. Training sessions are usually fifteen to twenty minutes a day over the course of a few weeks. Eventually, the dog learns to be calm in the presence of loud thunder. Another example is training to help with separation anxiety. If you plan on crate-training your dog, then you can have short practice sessions every day and, over the coming weeks, gradually increase the duration of time that you are away.
In some cases, your veterinarian may prescribe an anti-anxiety medication for your dog. Benzodiazepine drugs like diazepam are short-acting and can help with stressful but predictable events. For separation anxiety, medications like fluoxetine and clomipramine are FDA-approved for canine anxiety disorders like separation anxiety. These are longer-acting medications and can take one to four weeks for full effect, but they are better for helping with the causes of anxiety that are more difficult to predict. Side effects for some of these medications include restlessness, hyperexcitability, and gastrointestinal upset.
CBD oil, or cannabidiol, is a product that comes from theCannabis plant but is devoid of the psychoactive ingredient THC so that it is safe for use in dogs. Most of the scientific research available on CBD focus on its uses in human medicine, but there is ongoing research for its usage in dogs as well as a plethora of anecdotal evidence. CBD is reported to have a calming effect in dogs, thus helping with their anxieties, and works on specific receptors in the nervous system to help alleviate pain and inflammation.
If you know how to recognize when your dog is distressed, then you don’t need to have anxiety about anxiety! With training, patience, and some help from your veterinarian, you can help alleviate your dog’s fears and get back to enjoying your time with one another.