Does your dog have anxiety? We’re no strangers to dog anxiety here at the Levine house. My heart dog and inspiration for Pet Anxiety Awareness Month, Buck, had severe separation anxiety. My dog, Chilly, has severe noise aversion, or noise phobia.
Unless you know what to look for, it can be difficult to tell if your dog’s behavior is rooted in anxiety. But once you know, you know!
And it’s important to get your dog the right treatment since anxiety truly impacts your dog’s quality of life, much as it would a human’s. Plus, your dog’s anxiety impacts your own life as a pet parent since it often results in distressing outcomes like chewing, peeing, barking, and more.
While canine anxiety has many causes, your dog’s digestive system could be one reason why he has anxiety. How can you tell?
Let’s start with exploring some of the signs your dog might display if he has anxiety.
Signs Your Dog Has Anxiety
Some dog anxiety signs are obvious, like running and hiding. But others are more subtle. For example, whenever Chilly becomes anxious from hearing thunder or other loud noises, he quietly gets up and moves to a hiding spot. If you didn’t know better, you’d think all was well in his world.
However, as the noise progresses, he becomes more anxious, exhibiting distressing signs, like drooling, shaking, and putting his ears back.
Of course, there are many types of anxiety or things that can cause your dog anxiety besides loud noises. These include:
- Vet visits
- Separation from a family member
- Moving to a new house
- Car rides
- Strangers or new people/animals
- Cognitive Dysfunction Disorder (CDS)
- Digestive issues/malabsorption
When one of these triggers your dog’s anxiety, he may display signs such as:
- Urination or defecation
- Barking or howling
- Chewing/destroying things
- Trying to escape
- Attempting to prevent you from leaving
- Dilated pupils
- Excessive licking
- Avoiding interactions
- Displacement behaviors: yawning, lip licking, air sniffing, “shaking it off” like a wet dog
As you can see, some behaviors that may appear to be in your dog’s nature may actually be signs he’s suffering from anxiety. Since our dogs can’t tell us when they’re experiencing terror, it’s up to us pet parents to observe their behavior, learn what’s causing their anxiety, and get the right treatment.
Why Does Your Dog Have Anxiety?
There are many reasons why your dog might have anxiety, but the good news is, no matter the cause, we can work towards alleviating the symptoms so they’re nearly imperceptible.
However, it’s important to understand the cause, since that will have a direct bearing on the course of treatment. Some therapies may include medications, while others require minor modifications to your dog’s diet and lifestyle.
It’s In His DNA
Yes, your dog’s DNA plays a big role in whether or not he will experience anxiety. Just as anxiety disorders often seem to run in human families, the same can be true of dogs.
He’s Experienced Trauma
Dogs that have experienced trauma, such as being surrendered to a shelter, moving, being separated from a family member, or being abused, are often more predisposed to experiencing anxiety.
His Digestion Is Impaired
It’s true! Your dog’s gut health, including the microbiome, can have a direct correlation with your dog’s emotional response to anxiety triggers.
Depending on the severity of your dog’s anxiety, it may be necessary to get medical help. However, there are a few at-home methods to try first, especially if your dog’s anxiety is new or is mild. The first thing to look at is your dog’s digestion.
Signs Your Dog’s Digestive System Isn’t Right
Chilly is now in his senior years. As he began to age, I noticed his coat changing, his poops were a little different, and he didn’t have quite the same spring in his step.
These are all signs your dog’s nutritional needs are perhaps not being met. It’s hard because they get used to a certain kind of food, but we can’t feed them the same formula when they’re three years old as when they’re twelve years old since their dietary needs have drastically changed.
Here are some signs your dog’s digestion isn’t working as it should, or that he needs digestive support:
- Transit time (time from ingestion to pooping) is very long or very short
- Stool formation is runny, dry, or hard
- Undigested food in stool
- Straining to go to the bathroom
- Anxiety and associated behaviors (see above)
- Dull coat
- Brittle bones/easily broken
- Frequent infections with fungi, bacteria, or viruses
- Dry skin
- Excess Shedding
- Stiffness/soreness after exertion
It’s clear your dog’s health and wellbeing are wrapped up tightly with his digestion system! Especially if your dog is experiencing anxiety with any of these other symptoms, you’ll want to look to his digestion for answers.
That’s what I did with Chilly. A few years ago, I began looking into how to supplement his food so he’d receive all the dietary help he could get. I started using ALL-IN™ from Vetericyn® Animal Wellness. If you’ve been following me for a while, you know I love this brand and everything it stands for.
Their products are backed by real veterinarians and they actually work. Just look at Chilly’s healthy coat and eyes!
When I started giving him ALL-IN™, his stools became more well-formed, his coat became shinier, and his mood improved, giving him back that extra spring in his step.
I thought this was so important a find, so I want to share with you a bit more about how this life-stage supplement can help improve your dog’s mood, anxiety, and overall health.
Remember, there are lots of ways to improve your dog’s digestive health. This is just one. It’s always best to consult your veterinarian for the best way to address your dog’s anxiety and overall digestive health.
Digestive Supplements to Help Your Dog’s Anxiety
For years, we’ve known that our beloved canine companions have a “second brain” in their gut. It’s called the enteric nervous system, or ENS. This system communicates directly with the brain and the central nervous system, or CNS, via the vagus nerve.
If your dog’s digestive system isn’t right, those signals can become distorted and can result in emotional symptoms, like anxiety.
A supplement like ALL-IN™ can restore gut function and improve those lines of communication. Let’s see how.
Neurotransmitters are important for emotional health and stability. There are calming neurotransmitters, like serotonin and there are excitatory neurotransmitters, like dopamine.
Surprisingly, many of these neurotransmitters come from the gut. And after they’re created, they then have to pass through the blood-brain barrier to be used.
So if your dog’s digestive health is not ideal, you may see behavioral and emotional issues arise, like aggression or anxiety.
Each ALL-IN life stage formula contains an ingredient called MemoRem® Neuro-Complex. It’s designed to help nutrients cross the blood-brain barrier and to support the brain’s nerve cell function. It also supports the synthesis of neurotransmitters such as dopamine, epinephrine, norepinephrine.
In addition, the senior formula is supplemented with hydroxy-tryptophan (hTP) and valerian root extract to promote restful sleep and reduce anxiety.
ALL-IN also contains prebiotics. Prebiotics help to stimulate the growth of beneficial probiotic bacteria which helps your dog maintain healthy gastrointestinal function. In short, they help your dog properly digest his food and get beneficial nutrients in his bloodstream. These vital nutrients are another step to supporting your dog’s emotional wellbeing.
ALL-IN contains bioQule®Digestive Complex with phyto-enzymes, bromelain and papain to aid digestion, and porcine liver powder and curcumin to support healthy liver function. These digestive enzymes will help to break down your dog’s food in the stomach so it can be properly digested and absorbed. A well-nourished pup is a happy, calm pup!
If your dog’s immune system isn’t functioning well, it paves the way for opportunistic pathogens to invade the gut. Parasites, bacteria, and fungi create a wide variety of problems, not just for your dog’s physical health, but for his emotional health too.
ALL-IN contains Liferol® Immuno-Complex featuring immune co-factors vitamin A, zinc, and beta-glucan (BG). These promote healthy immunity and help keep invaders in check. Other properties, like curcumin, offer powerful antioxidant/anti-inflammatory support, protecting your dog against microbial pathogens and infectious agents like bacteria, viruses, and fungi.
If your senior dog’s anxiety is due to Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome (CDS), he may benefit from some cognitive support.
The ALL-IN Senior Formula helps protect brain cells by scavenging free radicals, reducing inflammation and improving cognition, and aids in the development of the brain cortex.
Should Your Dog Take Supplements for His Anxiety?
The short answer is “maybe.” Really, only your veterinarian can help you get to the bottom of your dog’s anxiety. But if his anxiety is mild or new and can’t be attributed to a specific cause, take a second look at his diet and observe his digestion for several days.
Be sure he’s eating healthy food and taking a supplement designed for his life stage. A few simple changes in your dog’s nutritional routine could make all the difference!