How To Spot If Your Dog Is Stressed?
Updated: Jan 30
You know your dog better than anyone else in this world, so spotting a change of behaviour in your dog will be obvious to you and you’ll be able to confirm that your dog is acting out of sorts. Stress is more common in dogs than you may think. Even worse, stress can negatively impact your dog's health and failure to notice the signs can have detrimental effect on the wellbeing of your pup.
We’ve put together a list of tell-tale signs to look out for if you’re worried your pet is suffering from stress/ anxiety.
Change of bowl movement and consistency
Although more usually attributed to disease or food intolerance, gastrointestinal issues such as diarrhoea and constipation can be induced by anxiety. Consult with a specialist if the diarrhoea, constipation, or other digestive issue become more sever, especially if it has lasted longer than 24 hours or if the feces has blood in it.
Blood in the vomit or/ stool can be an indicator of a food borne illness. Food Borne Illness can result from the spoilage of contaminated food, bacteria, viruses, or parasites that contaminate food. This is more common then you may think.
Decrease in Appetite
Dogs don't go on fasts or diets like we do (probably because they like their food too much!), so it's important to consult a veterinarian if your pet suddenly loses interest in food or stops eating altogether. It could be due to stress or pointing to an underlying health condition. From my own experience, a dog typically loses their appetite if for example their separated from you i.e. their staying in a doggy hotel/ staying at a relatives when you go on vacation. The change of environment can often be unsettling for your pup as they don’t like change. A good way to settle your dog to its new found surroundings is to leave them their favourite toys, doggy bed and even one of your t-shirts so they can be reminded of your smell.
Shaking or trembling
Normally we are accustomed to seeing our pet shaking after let’s say they’ve got out of the water from having a bath / or returning from swimming in the lake, veterinary visits or hearing loud noises. But if your dog is shaking and you can’t think of any triggers for this transpiring, then the first thing we’d recommend is comfort your dog by giving them a hug (if they like that) and show affection towards them. Visit a veterinary asap if the shaking continues over a prolonged period, as there could be a number of underlaying issues causing your beloved pup to shiver such as a fever, pain, muscle weakness, low blood sugar and kidney disease.
Showing aggression towards humans or other dogs
Aggressive actions whilst unprovoked toward animals or people can be a sign of a stressed or sick depressed dog. Consult your veterinarian or a veterinary behaviourist before the problem gets any worse. Many aggressive signs are accompanied by a fearful body posture and disgruntled facial expression. Treatment for aggression focuses on behaviour modifications to assist the dog with its anxiety and anger.
Pet accessories such as muzzles can be an effective aid when the dog is away from home, not in their most comfortable state, with all treatment being focused on preventing injury to humans or other dogs.
Physical behavioural changes
Whilst yawning is a natural bodily function, excessive yawning can be a sign that your dog is feeling uncomfortable. You may notice this whilst at the vets, or your pup meeting a stranger for the first time.
2. Tail between the legs, pointed down, or only wagging the tip
Tails really tell a story on the wellbeing of your pup in a given situation. A tucked tail is a sign of a stressed or nervous pup, but any tail that isn’t “loose” and swishy when it wags is something to look out for. A stiff tail pointing straight up could indicate a warning, social challenge, or sign of aggression.
3. Tense muscles
Similarly, to humans, we both share the same physiological reactions when scared or anxious. In a dog you’ll notice it more as their back legs become very tense and neck muscles are extremely tight.
4. Ears flattened
We are accustomed to seeing our pup’s ears pointing forward as commonly, it means they’re paying close attention to something i.e. if you called them by their name or if they heard a noise outside. However, when your dog's ears are flat against its head, it signifies fear or aggression.