Anxiety affects 18.1% of Americans over 18 every year. Unfortunately, humans aren’t the only ones who deal with feeling nervous, uneasy, and stressed. Dogs, our faithful companions, can also suffer from anxiety. 

Fear, separation, and aging can all trigger anxiety. Your dog may not like the sound of thunder, can’t bear being alone, or has become confused and afraid as their memory and awareness decline in their later years. 

Feelings of anxiety in dogs can look very different depending on the individual. However, there are a few telltale signs to look out for, along with a few things you can do to help your pet work through those difficult emotions. 

Symptoms to Look Out for 

Unfortunately, our dogs can’t articulate how they’re feeling. There are a few symptoms to look out for that may indicate your pup is feeling anxious and needs extra love. 

  • Aggressive behavior 
    • Lots of barking and other aggressive behavior may be related to anxiety if your dog is afraid or feels unsafe. 
  • Self-harm 
    • This could look like licking themselves excessively or repeatedly chewing on their paws and limbs. 
  • Using the bathroom in the house 
    • If your dog is trained to use the bathroom outside but suddenly begins peeing or pooping indoors, they may be struggling with anxiety. 
  • Panting/pacing 
    • Panting is normal in hot weather, but if they have their tongue out in cooler weather, it might be a sign they aren’t feeling quite right. 
  • Poor appetite 
    • Humans also find it difficult to eat when anxious, so keep an eye on their appetite. 
  • Behavioral issues
    • Did they tear up your favorite pillow, take playing with a fellow dog a step too far, or dig up the yard? 
  • Restlessness 
    • This is an easy thing to look out for. Having trouble sitting for long periods is a symptom of anxiety. 

Your dog may have several or none of these symptoms. Anxiety is a tricky disorder that manifests in unique and challenging ways. Trust your gut, if your dog is acting differently and seems distressed by this new behavior, talk to your vet. 

What you Can Do to Help 


Like humans, dogs need love and attention when they are feeling anxious. Think about what you might want if you weren’t feeling very good, your dog’s needs aren’t that different. 

Get your dog out of the house for exercise regularly. This will help them walk off some of their restlessness. It’s also a great time to bond with your pet. Chat with them during the walk so they know you care and are present. 

Touching your dog will also help them feel better. You could pet them while watching television or take some time to massage their back and stomach. Dogs are very affectionate creatures and sometimes all they need is a little love. 

If they are struggling with separation anxiety, giving them a t-shirt or other article of clothing that smells like you will help remind them you’re always nearby. 

Finally, your anxious dog might just need some alone time. Giving them time in a quiet, secluded room or space can help calm their nerves and reduce the amount of stimulus they’re taking in. You could even play some gentle music in the space since music therapy has been proven to help dogs and cats. 

In Conclusion 

Dealing with a dog who has anxiety can be overwhelming. Your first instinct may be to get upset with them, especially if they destroyed a piece of furniture or barked aggressively at a passer-by. The reality is that anxiety makes moderating your emotions difficult, and dogs don’t have the resources or vocabulary to express their emotions as humans do. 

Dogs deserve to be loved and treated with compassion and patience. So the next time your dog does something out of character, don’t automatically scold them, ask yourself why they might have done that and if they could be dealing with troubling feelings of anxiety.

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