a The Happy Puppers (Dog care, grooming, behavior and training)

Thursday, September 17, 2020

9 treatment strategies for dogs suffering from separation anxiety

September 17, 2020 0

Causes and treatment of separation anxiety in dogs

For a long time, in almost every dog groups on Facebook or other social media, dog parents have been asking how to get rid of the separation anxiety in dogs. With lock down coming to an end and people getting back to work, this problem of dogs suffering from separation anxiety is on the rise.

Just like any other unhealthy behaviors of dogs like chewing, biting, barking etc. anxiety is treatable. Depending on the circumstance, anxiety can either be totally cured or it can be brought down to manageable levels. If you have a dog who suffers from anxiety, this is a must-read blog post for you. 

Furthermore, if you were with your pup during this lock down and have to go back to work now, some of the tips mentioned here might help make the transition easier for your dog.

9 amazing strategies to treat separation anxiety in dogs
9 amazing strategies to treat separation anxiety in dogs

 

First let’s understand what causes anxiety dogs

Anxiety can show itself in many ways from barking and whining to whimpering and shivering. You may notice that your dog suddenly becomes destructive when you are not at home. They may also  sure hostile behavior when anxious. If the separation anxiety is not addressed, they may start to lose their appetite and move to a completely withdrawn state.

The most common reasons behind separation anxiety in dogs are:

  • Fear of being home alone
  • Traveling
  • Loud noises
  • Being around strange people, pets or children
  • Being abused or rejected in the past

The best way to treat your dog’s anxiety is to first understand the cause behind the anxiety. Once you have identified the reason, you can start the treatment.

Ways to calm an anxious dog

Exercise

If your dog suffers from separation anxiety, the most obvious  manner to put their minds at ease is to never leave them alone. However this is not a feasible option for most dog guardians. Thus, exercising your dog can not only be a great bonding time, it can also release the pent up energy of your dog.

To reduce your dog's anxiety by exercise, take your dog for a long walk or run just before you leave the house. Exercise reduces their pent up energy levels, releases endorphins which reduces their stress levels and also tires their brain. If you leave your dog alone after you exercise him or her, your dog will display less aggression and will be more calm and content to being alone.

Physical contact

Physical contact is probably the best and quickest way to reduce anxiety of your dog. If you notice signs of anxiety in your dog, it’s best to nip it as soon as possible. Give your dog plenty of hugs, kisses, cuddles or just long petting sessions. When you’re at home, stay close your dog. Make him or her feel like he or she belongs.

Massage

Massage works wonders for most of us. It is the same for dogs as well. Anxiety often results in tension in the muscles and massage therapy is one of the best ways to alleviate this tension. Giving your dog a good massage session before you leave. It can relieve your dog off the excess energy, make him or her calm and relaxed. A good massage session will most likely make him or her sleep after you leave. Start the massage from the neck and work down with long soothing strokes. Try to keep one hand on your dog and use the other to massage him or her. Over time. you will be able to identify which region of your dog becomes tense due to anxiety and work more on that particular region.

Music therapy

Music therapy has proven to be beneficial for both humans as well as dogs. Music can be relaxing and calming when you’re at home or outside. Music can also reduce the noise sensitivity by masking the scary noises or the street sounds which bother some dogs and cause anxiety. Recent studies  have also shown that most dogs prefer classical music. The music notes has been observed to act as a natural sedative for dogs. If you have a dog suffering from anxiety, the following music might help:

Through a dog’s ear by psychoacoustics researcher Joshua Leeds and pianist Lisa Spector.

 Surrender by Susan Raimond.

Time out

Timeout isn’t always  in response to a bad behavior. If you dog is suffering from anxiety, it might help to give your dog a crucial timeout when he or she is acting out. This timeout needs to be in a safe and quiet environment. Isolating your dog in such an environment can help calm their anxious nerves. It can be an added bonus if a quiet soothing music is playing in the background, the lights are dim and some aromatherapy is available [preferably a fragrance which is liked by your dog].

Calming t-shirts/coats

Calming T-shirts apply a constant and mild pressure to your dog’s torso. It is equivalent to swaddling an infant. Just like swaddling provides a feeling of comfort and security to the baby, the calming t shirts or coats provide a sense of security to dogs who suffer from any kind of anxiety induced by separation, noise, travel or even separate stranger anxiety. Depending on your dog’s size, there are many brands as well as models available from which you can choose.

Remove the triggers which cause anxiety

If you notice your dogs anxiety stems  in response to specific things like strangers or other dogs, try to eliminate the stressors for a while. For example if your dog is afraid of other dogs or other people, you can stop going to the dog park. You can take your dog for walks to places where there are less people or less dogs around.

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Know and understand the causes and treatment of separation anxiety in dogs
Know and understand the causes and treatment of separation anxiety in dogs


Behavioral modifications

Behavioral modifications towards strangers

You can also reset your dog’s mind to associate new people with positive reinforcements. Ask your friend to come into your house and give your dog a treat every time he or she comes. Repeat this exercise on a regular basis. Eventually your dog will learn to associate new people with good treats.

Behavioral modifications towards being left alone

The standard for behavioral modification usually involves desensitization as well as counter conditioning. Such methods can be tricky to carry out . These methods require the help of a trained and experienced professional. To know more about the behavioral modifications to with being left alone watch out for my next blog post.

Dog appeasing pheromones

These are synthetic pheromones. These are similar to pheromones which are produced by female dogs when they are nursing puppies. These can work amazingly well reducing the anxiety of your dog. These are available in different forms like callers, diffusers and sprays.

Alternative therapies

Alternate therapies are ones which have not being proven scientifically to have a positive effect on your dog’s anxiety. As a part of this therapy, you can either try combining music with calming T-shirts or you can go for homeopathic remedies available which can calm your dog. You can also use CBD oil (know about the full benefits of CBD oil) or try a mix and match of a few of the above-mentioned remedies.

Medications

Two drugs, clomipramine and fluoxetine are approved in the US for treatment of separation anxiety dogs. These two are antidepressant drugs which are also administered to humans for treating symptoms of anxiety and depression. Clomipramine is administered at a dose of 1 mg/kg every 12 hours. Clomipramine has been observed to increase passive behavior and reduce whining, scratching and pacing of dogs suffering from separation anxiety.

Fluoxetine, when administered as soluble tablets, in the absence of any kind of behavioral therapy, was found to improve the separation related anxiety of dogs compared to those who were treated with a placebo.

Always consult your vet before starting your dog on any kind of alternative therapy.

Seek professional help

If you tried all the above therapies and none seem to work on your dog. It is time to seek out professional help. If your dog's anxiety problem is not addressed at an early age, it will only continue to grow and  get worse over time.

Sometimes a sudden behavior change can be a result of a physical problem. Your veterinarian can perform diagnostic tests depending on your dog’s behavior to find out the root cause of your dog’s problem. However, if your dog is healthy physically and still displays a high level of anxiety, you should set up a meeting with either a certified animal behaviorist or with a board-certified veterinary behaviorist. Work together and find out the root cause of your dog’s anxiety. Treat the problem from the root so that your dog can go back to his happy self.

Conclusion

Understanding the reasons behind your dog’s anxiety, ruling out any kind of underlying illness, behavior modification training and getting professional help will help improve the quality of your dog’s life and reduce his or her anxiety.

Research is shown that anxiety can have negative effects of both humans as well as dogs. A study conducted in 2010 on 721 domestic dogs concluded that anxiety disorder or the stress of living in fear can have detrimental effects on your dog’s health and can even reduce their lifespan. Thus, you must be proactive if you have a dog who suffers from anxiety.

As a dog guardian, you know that giving up is never an option. The solution may not be easy, but your dog will get there with your support and be his or her happy, healthy, jumping and tail wagging self again.

See you in my next blog post

Shruti

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Separation anxiety is a treatable condition in dogs. It just needs some patience on your part
Separation anxiety is a treatable condition in dogs. It just needs some patience on your part


Saturday, September 12, 2020

Separation anxiety in dogs: 11 identification criterias

September 12, 2020 0

 Symptoms of separation anxiety in dogs

One of the most widely heard complaints of dog caretakers is that their dog is an angel in the presence of his or her guardians but turns into the devil when left alone. Their dogs might howl, defecate, urinate, chew, barf, dig or finally try to escape. These behavioral issues indicate that the dog not only needs better house training but might also be suffering from separation anxiety. If your dog’s problems are accompanied by other behaviors like showing anxiety or  clinginess when you prepare to go out, these are indicative towards your dog suffering from separation anxiety and not that your dog is not properly house trained. Simulation anxiety gets resort in dogs when they become upset due to being away from their guardians. If a dog suffering from separation anxiety tries to escape, it is extreme and might result in house destruction and self injury.

How to identify if your dog has separation anxiety
How to identify if your dog has separation anxiety?

 Anxious dogs might display different kinds of behavior when their parents are getting ready to leave. Some might become agitated while others might become depressed or anxious before their guardians depart. Some would even try to prevent their parents from leaving the house at all.

The moment their guardians leave, such dogs would begin howling, barking and displaying other stress related behaviors within a very short time, usually minutes. When the guardian comes back, the dog will greet him or her like he hasn’t seen his parent in ages.

The purpose of treating a dog who is suffering from separation anxiety is to resolve the underlying anxiety by reprogramming the dogs brain to enjoy, or at least be tolerant with being left alone. This kind of behavior modification can be achieved by setting up an environment which provokes the distress without experiencing any kind of anxiety or fear.

 Before you start reprogramming your dogs behavior, you need to know the reasons behind separation anxiety dogs

Causes of separation anxiety

So far there has been no concrete evidence to indicate why exactly do dogs develop separation anxiety. However, observation of dogs coming from different environments have indicated that this kind of a behavior problem is more often observed in dogs who were adopted from shelters than the ones who were living with a single family from the time of puppyhood. The following situations are most likely to trigger separation anxiety in dogs:

Change of family or guardian

Being surrendered to a shelter or abandoned or suddenly been given to a new family or guardian can trigger separation anxiety. Since such dogs don’t understand why they are being sent away it causes a lot of stress on them.

Change in schedule

Dogs are used to a specific schedule. If there is a sudden change in the schedule specifically in terms of when they are left alone, it can lead to the development of separation anxiety. For example, you were with your dog for the past four months due to the lock down. Your dog saw you 24/7. Now suddenly you have to go back to your job and your dog is left alone for 6 to 7 hours. Such a change might lead to development of separation anxiety in your dog.

Residence change

Dogs don’t like change of environment suddenly. A change in residence can trigger separation anxiety.

Change in the household members

The sudden absence of a family member or you moving away can trigger separation anxiety.

Now that you know the reasons behind separation anxiety in dogs, the next thing to know are the symptoms your dogs is likely to display if he/she is suffering from separation anxiety. 

Identify whether your dog has separation anxiety
Identify whether your dog has separation anxiety.

 

Symptoms of separation anxiety in dogs

Barking and howling

A dog who suffers from separation anxiety might immediately start barking or howling when left alone or is separated from his or her guardian. Howling or barking which stems from separation anxiety is persistent and does not seem to be triggered by anything else except the fear of being alone.

Urinating and defecating

If your dog  urinates or defecates in your presence, he or she most likely needs better house training. However if this behavior always gets manifested in your absence, then your dog is most likely suffering from separation anxiety.

Chewing digging and destruction

Some dogs suffering from separation anxiety tend to chew on objects like windowsills or door frames. They will try to dig at the doorways and the doors and destroy the house furniture. Such behaviors can cause harm to your dog. Your dog may land up with script paws, damaged nails or broken teeth. In a few severe cases dogs have tried to escape through the window and got impaled by the broken glass of the windows. If this behavior is not caused by separation anxiety, this may be exhibited even when the guardians are around.

Pacing

Some dogs will trot on a fixed spot in a fixed pattern when they’re alone or separated from their guardians. The spacing behavior can either be in circular pattern or it can be back and forth in a straight line. Similar to the chewing and digging behavior, if this behavior is triggered from separation anxiety, it will not be observed when the dog guardians are present.

Coprophagia

Coprophagia is the behavioral disorder when the dogs defecate and consume some or all of the excrement. If this behavior is performed in the absence of the guardians, then it most likely is stemming from separation anxiety.

Behavioral problems to rule out

Sometimes it is hard to understand whether the inappropriate behavior displayed by the dog is due to separation anxiety or not. A few of the behavioral problems can lead to similar symptoms. Before reaching to the conclusion that your dog is suffering from  separation anxiety, it is important that you rule out the following behavioral problems:

Incomplete house training

If your dog is constantly urinating in the house, even in your presence, he or she is most likely incompletely house trained. Your dog's house training was either incomplete or it involves punishment.

Urine marking

Some dogs will urinate in the house as a part of marking the house with her scent. Dogs are territorial creatures. They use scent to market their territory. If your dog is lifting a leg to urinate, he or she is most likely marking his or her territory.

Boredom

Dogs get bored very easily and need constant mental stimulation. Some dogs can become disruptive when left alone. These dogs don’t appear to be anxious otherwise

Juvenile destruction

Dogs are known to chew everything in their sight during their puppynhood stages. This behavior will be displayed in front of the guardians as well as when they are away.

Excessive howling or barking

There are certain breeds of dogs who are known to bark more than others. Some dogs also however bark in response to various stimulants present in the environment like unfamiliar sounds, sights, sirens etc. They would vocalize their happiness when their guardians come home and their distress when their guardians are away.

Conclusion

Now that you know the common symptoms of dog anxiety, have you noticed your dog display any of the above-mentioned symptoms? If yes, what did you to about it? There are many ways to treat separation anxiety in dogs. The best way is behavioral reprogramming so that your dog understands that it’s all right to be left alone. To know about dog anxiety treatments, watch out for my next blog post.

Thank you for reading.

See you in my next post.

Shruti

 

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Is your dog suffering from separation anxiety?


Friday, September 4, 2020

Thursday, August 20, 2020

Thursday, August 6, 2020

Itching in dogs: 10 best home remedies

August 06, 2020 0

Home remedies to reduce itching (pruritus) in dogs:

As a dog guardian you must have noticed your dog scratching or it himself or herself. It is not an uncommon sight. However, if your dog scratches himself or herself too much, it can be a cause of concern. In this post, I will discuss the factors which contribute to itching and the home remedies you can use to reduce the same in your pup.

Why do dogs itch?

Pruritus or itching, as we commonly know it, is defined as an uncomfortable skin sensation which causes the dog to scratch himself or herself. Itching is just a symptom, it is not the disease or a diagnosis. The most common causes behind your dog itching himself or herself can be allergies, parasites or infection. It can either be confined to a specific area or it can be generalized throughout the body.

Common causes behind itching in dogs:
  • Mites or fleas infestation
  • Bacterial or fungal infection
  • Allergy
  • Insect bite

If your dog’s itching reduces after an antibiotic course, in that case the itching occured due to a microbial infection. 

However, if the itching continues post antibiotic administration, then the most common reason could be allergy. Allergy can either be a food allergy or environmental allergy against environmental allergens like mold, pollen etc. 

If your dog’s itching does not reduce even after a course of antihistamines, such cases will need medical management for pruritus. The most commonly administered medications for treatment of such cases involve essential fatty acids, glucocorticoid, oclacitinib and cyclosporin.

When should you consult your vet?

Mild or occasional itching is not a sign of a serious health condition. However, if your dog shows other symptoms like restlessness depressed mood, loss of appetite or such serious itching that he or she breaks the skin, immediately set an appointment with your veterinarian.

If your dog’s itchiness is mild, then there are natural ways to treat the same at home.

Always consult your weight before starting any new skin care or diet regimen for your dog. Stop the treatment if the symptoms continue or worsen.

What are the causes behind itching in dogs?
What are the causes behind itching in dogs?

Home remedies which can reduce itching in dogs

Colloidal oatmeal baths:

Colloidal oatmeal baths can soothe your dog's itchy skin as it reduces inflammation and washes away the allergen that tends to get trapped in your dog’s fur. You can either buy pre-made colloidal oatmeal or grind sugar free plain oatmeal into a powder for use.

The anti-inflammatory properties of colloidal oatmeal can reduce the swelling and redness. It will also provide some cooling effect to your dog’s uncomfortable and hot skin. Since oatmeal is non-toxic, you don't have to worry about the symptoms worsening.

Apple cider vinegar

I cannot emphasize enough about the important properties of apple cider vinegar (ACV) for your dog. As I have previously mentioned in my blog posts, ACV is a pretty powerful anti-fungal and anti-bacterial agent. It can reduce your dog’s itchiness, provide soothing effect to the skin and prevent fleas infestation. Know the various wondrous benefits of this common kitchen ingredient and how to use it to benefit your dog.

NOTE: Never use ACV on raw or broken skin. It can worsen the symptoms and cause your dog a lot of pain.

Coconut oil

Coconut oil is one of my favorite remedies for treating itching in dogs. Solidified coconut oil has been observed to soothe the discomfort caused by eczema, skin infections, insect bites as well as allergies when properly massaged into the coat and skin of your dog. When shopping for coconut oil, always go for the virgin or undefined or organic coconut oil. To enable coconut oil to heal your dog from inside out and a teaspoon full of the same to his or her diet. Know more about the amazing benefits of this super oil for your pup.

NOTE: Always consult your vet before changing your dog's diet. Initially, add a minimal amount and check your dog's response. In case you do not notice any benefit, or you notice a worsening of symptoms, stop administration of coconut oil immediately and consult your vet.

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10 brilliant remedies to reduce itching in dogs
10 brilliant remedies to reduce itching in dogs

Green tea and chamomile soaks

Green tea and chamomile are known for their anti-inflammatory and soothing effects in case of humans. However, they have shown to work just as well in case of dogs too. If your dog is suffering from itchy patches of skin, give your dog a bath in green tea or chamomile solution. Fill a bathtub with lukewarm water and allow several tea bags too steep in for at least 5 minutes. Remove the bags and let your dog soak in that water for five minutes. If you wish to provide your dog some immediate relief, steep the tea bag, allow it to cool completely and apply the tea directly onto the affected region.

Aloe vera


You must be aware of the benefits of aloe vera. Aloe vera is not only a pretty powerful healing agent, it can also be used to reduce redness and provide coolness your dog’s skin. You can choose to apply aloe vera directly on the affected regions. Most of the drug and grocery stores sell natural aloe vera. You can also directly harvest it from an aloe vera plant.

NOTE: Do not use aloe vera which contains alcohol. It may worsen the symptoms and cause severe burning sensation to your dog.

Baking soda


Baking soda can also be used to reduce your dog itchiness along with baking. Baking soda can help drive out rashes on skin reduce itching as well as redness and inflammation. To use baking soda on your dog's skin, combine 50% of water and 50% of baking soda to make a paste. Apply the paste on your dog’s skin, leave it on the skin for about 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, rinse out the skin completely. If you wish to make the paste more moisturizing, add a bit of coconut oil to the mixture. In case your dog is suffering from a complete body itchiness, you can add some baking soda to his bath water as well.

Plain (sugar free) yoghurt

Sometimes your dog itchiness can stem from the existence of an unbalanced microflora in your dog's digestive system. Feeding your dog plain, unsweetened yoghurt can restore that gut microflora and reuse the itchiness. This remedy works for dogs who are suffering from hives, allergy or specific type of rashes.

For small breed dogs, add one teaspoon and for large breed dogs add two teaspoons of yoghurt to the diet once per week. This will considerably improve their gut flora and reduce the itching.
I personally favor coconut oil and omega 3 for reducing itching in dogs
I personally favor coconut oil and omega 3 for reducing itching in dogs

Thyme

Thyme is a natural ingredient which contains flavonoids possessing anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Thyme also has anti fungal and antiseptic properties which makes it an amazing home remedy for use in case of skin and yeast infections.

If you notice your dog chewing his/her paws, make an infusion of fresh or dried thyme and apply it to the affected region. Ensure that the thyme gets in between your dog’s toes as well.

Chickweed

Chickweed is an excellent home remedy for treatment of hot spots and itches as it has anti-inflammatory properties. Chickweed gel can be used for topical applications. It has a pleasant cooling effect which can be used to treat minor rashes, eczema or insect bites.

Fish oil

Fish oil have omega-3 fatty acids called DHA and EPA. These fatty acids are extremely helpful in reducing the inflammatory reactions.  They also reduce the production of histamines (released from mast cells and basophils; are the major contributors to the symptoms of allergy viz. scratching and itching in dogs).

A proper balanced diet

Providing your dog, a proper balanced diet with healthy carbohydrates and a lot of omega 3 fatty acids can help soothe and heal the skin from inside out. A lot of dogs are allergic to the common ingredients found in the standard kibble (dry dog food) like turkey, chicken, beef, wheat or gluten. Switching towards fish-based food or food which contains sweet potatoes can reduce the symptoms associated with food allergies. Fatty fishes which are rich in Omega 3 content have shown to reduce information promote the skin health as well as aids in digestion. Always consult your vet before making any changes to your dog’s diet.

Personal experience

Delta has environmental allergy. He also has a very thin fur coat.  Thus, too much scratching leads to the development of bald spots quickly.  For the past 8 months, I have been adding coconut oil and Omega 3 supplements to his diet. These have worked wonders in causing new hair growth and making his fur shiny and soft. 

Conclusion:

Even though all these remedies are not work perfectly for every dog. There is a high chance that most of these remedies would work on most of the dogs. If a specific solution is not effective on your pup, do not hesitate to move on to the next one. Consult your vet before starting any of the above-mentioned remedies. If you find the symptoms worsening, stop administering the remedy immediately and consult your vet.

Thank you for reading.

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10 amazing home therapy options to reduce itching in dogs
10 amazing home therapy options to reduce itching in dogs