Dealing with anxiety in dogs this holiday season

Christmas holidays are typically a busy time for us all, with Christmas parties and catch-ups with friends or going away on holidays. For dogs who are prone to anxiety, this holiday hustle and bustle and exposure to new environments can be quite overwhelming.

Why would my dog suffer from anxiety at this time of year?

Fear is a natural instinct – for both people and animals – and this can turn into anxiety for some dogs. If your dog is placed in unfamiliar situations, is out of routine, or is separated from you, they may feel quite stressed and anxious. This doesn’t apply to all dogs; however, it’s not clear-cut why some dogs suffer from anxiety and some don’t, as it can affect dogs of any breed or age.

Signs of anxiety in dogs

Depending on the situation and the temperament of your dog, the behaviours that a dog will exhibit when feeling anxious can differ quite significantly. Some of the typical signs of anxiety include:

  • Excessive barking, howling or whining
  • Trembling
  • Repetitive digging or scratching
  • Aggression
  • Destructive behaviour
  • Eating unusual items or not eating
  • Drooling or panting excessively

What can I do to help my dog?

It’s important not to ignore your dog’s anxiety and resultant symptoms. A proactive approach can help to reduce the stress your dog feels, including:

  • Gradual exposure to unfamiliar places. If your dog is going to stay at a kennel or with a dog sitter, consider taking them for a couple of visits to help them acclimatise to the new environment with you in tow.
  • Take along their bedding, toys and a piece of your clothing. This helps to offer a sense of security in unfamiliar settings for when you’re travelling with your dog, visiting family and friends or if they are staying in a kennel.
  • Maintain routine as much as possible. Dogs love routine, and when their routine changes, they can get stressed. If you are travelling with your dog, try and feed and walk them at the same time as possible.

Need some help?

Early intervention and proper training can help manage and alleviate anxiety in many cases.

If you are concerned that your dog is very stressed during unfamiliar situations, please bring them in for a consultation so we can formulate a plan to address their anxiety.

To schedule an appointment at our Gawler East vet clinic, please book online or call us on 08 8318 1801. Please note that our clinic will be closed from 1pm Saturday 23rd of December and reopening 8am Tuesday 2nd of January 2024.