All dog parents agree that their furry companions are not just our pets but a vital part of their families. So, as a pet parent, it can be extremely devastating to witness a panic attack in dogs.
Fortunately, there are several measures you can take to restore the peace in your furry child’s life. Coming up with a comfort plan and preparing for them in advance will help your canine friend deal with panic attacks and greatly improve their lifestyle.
In this blog, we will discuss the signs of panic attack, the possible reasons for them, and how to take care of these episodes of panic attacks.
What Does a Panic Attack in Dogs Look Like?
A panic attack in dogs is a brief episode of intense anxiety that all of a sudden veers into panic. These panic episodes can occur at any time, even when a dog is sleeping. Our furry children can’t tell us what they are feeling during panic attacks but can comprehend by observing their body language and behavior.
A dog experiencing a panic attack may show the following symptoms:
- Anxious behavior like sudden panting and pacing, often in an obsessive pattern
- Uncontrollable shaking and trembling
- Excessive salivation in some breeds
- Frantically seeking the attention of their owner
- Shortness of breath
- Pinned-back ears
- Hiding behind different places
- Escape behavior
- Peeing and potty accidents in an otherwise house trained dog
Similar to humans, dogs undergoing a panic attack may also have an increased heart rate. If their panic is severe, some pooches may experience diarrhoea, vomiting or might have an accident in the house.
What are the causes of panic attacks in a dog?
Panic attacks in dogs can be triggered by specific things or circumstances or they just occur suddenly for no reason. For most dogs, panic attacks are a sign of a major behavioral problem. A panic attack can be triggered by any experience that causes a dog to be fearful or anxious.
The common causes of panic attack in dogs include
- Being left alone for a longer period by owners.
- Separated from owners in dogs who are diagnosed with separation anxiety.
- Hearing some unusual sounds like fireworks, thunder, alarms in dogs who have noise phobia.
- Exposure to stressful situations like air travel, car rides, or visiting veterinary clinics.
Remember that dogs perceive the world very differently. They have a much stronger sense of hearing and smell than humans. Sometimes, ww may not identify the trigger that the dog is responding to. Similarly for anxious dogs, even slightest stressful situations can easily trigger a panic attack.
How long do panic attacks last in a dog?
Panic attacks are generally brief, lasting less than 10 minutes. However, some of the symptoms may last longer in dogs.
Panic attacks in dogs can be a symptom of other anxiety disorders. Dogs who have suffered from one panic attack are at greater risk for another one. When the panic attacks occur repeatedly and you anticipate more such episodes, your dog may have panic disorder.
The longer the panic attack, the more intense the dog’s fear and anxiety becomes. Longer panic attacks become more difficult to cope.
What do you do when a dog is having a panic attack?
It might seem like a tall order to calm down an anxious or fearful dog, but with proper tools, it becomes fairly manageable.
To make a dog more peaceful and relaxed, there are several things you can do.
The best thing that you can do for your furry child is to stay calm in all situations. Take a deep breath and remain calm and collected. Your fear or frustration can make your dog more fearful or anxious.
Establish a predictable routine for your dog
It is important to establish a daily routine for your fur buddy. This includes scheduled mealtime, potty time, playtime, grooming time, and exercise and training time. Your dog will feel relaxed by spending the remaining time for a nap and playing with favorite toys.
Let your dog sit next to you
One way to lessen your dog’s stress levels is by letting him sit or sleep near you. This is also a highly effective method to reduce panic attacks caused by separation anxiety.
So, letting your dog sit near you will help a lot and reduce their anxiety. You can also leave your dog’s favorite chew toy with them. However, this doesn’t mean that your dog sleeps in your bed as it will increase separation anxiety.
Tire out your dog
Always remember to regularly give your dogs plenty of exercise and physical activity. Your dog will probably relax and lie down once they are tired. With physical exercise, your dog’s brain releases increased serotonin that works like an antianxiety drug. Sometimes, what looks like anxiety or panic attacks in your dog is just his pent-up energy.
You can tire out your dog by:
- Taking them out for jogging or a long walk.
- Taking them on a hike.
- Give them interactive toys and puzzles.
- Spend time playing games like fetch, flyball, and tug of war.
- Backyard Agility.
Play soothing music to your dog
Research indicates that soothing music calms down anxious dogs by lowering the levels of the stress hormone. It not only distracts them from outside noises but increases their cortisol levels.
Music genres like classical, Reggae, and soft rock have that calming influence on a dog. There is also music composed particularly for dogs. Remember to keep the music volume down to avoid waking up your neighbors.
Give your dog social and phobia training
Irrespective of the triggers of panic attacks in dogs, you can train your furry pal to overcome his fears. You must ensure that your dogs are properly socialized to avoid any unnecessary panic attacks.
Most professional dog trainers provide social and phobia training by exposing the dog to several noises and phobias. Try to encourage dogs to overcome fear of a bad weather or a car passing by them. Always use positive reinforcement to have a calmer and stable dog.
A dog’s panic can interfere with his learning ability. You should respect your furry companion’s emotional state as panic makes dogs shut down. AKC suggests that “Training can wait until your dog is in a calmer emotional state.”
Consider using natural remedies
Different essential oils, tinctures, and other natural remedies are a great way to help your dog in a panic attack. Also, applying flower essences to the dog’s head or nose, or even put in their food can help calm them after a panic attack.
Here are some natural solutions that may help him get some relief.
- CBD oil or tincture
- Flower essenses
- Essential oils
- Calming aromas
Natural remedies are much safer than the pharmaceutical products available in the market to relieve anxiety.
Give anti-stress clothing a chance
A common cause of panic attacks in dogs is harsh environmental conditions. Anti-Stress clothing is designed to calm nervous and anxious dogs.
The idea behind anti-stress clothing is to apply pressure to the dog’s torso that causes a calming effect. If worn appropriately, the pressure is distributed over the back and sides of your dog’s chest. This gives a feeling of security to your anxious dog.
Get your dog checked by a licensed vet
If you have tried everything to calm down your dog who experienced a panic attack and nothing seems to work, it’s best to talk to your vet.
The vet might recognize some causes that you as a dog owner aren’t able to see. He might suggest a variety of things that could work including medication, training, environment enrichment.
Pet parent tip: Never punish your dog for showing anxious or undesirable behavior. It will further damage their temperament.
What can I feed a stressed dog?
Healthy diet and good nutrition are significant to your dog’s health and mental wellness. There are several foods that may help in calming down dogs who experience a panic attack. Choose power foods that helps to manage the impact of stress on your dog’s body and support his immune system.
Stress-fighting foods that you can feed to calm down your dog include
- Fish oil
- Blue berries
- Sweet potato
- Whole brown rice
- Whole oats
- Hemp seed oil
- Pumpkin seeds
Keep in mind that food alone will not fix the problem of a stressed or fearful dog. If the panic attack is severe, contact your vet or a dog behaviorist who can work with you to help your dog be happy, relaxed, and calm.
Panic Attack in Dogs – Final thoughts
When you bring home a furry member, you are committing to a long-term relationship. It’s important to give quality time to your dog, feed a healthy diet, and meet their exercise and training requirements. This will help your fur buddy to become well-rounded, happy, and socially active dogs.
If your dog experiences frequent panic attacks, it is likely related to an anxiety disorder. It’s best to speak to a professional dog behaviorist.
Hope you enjoyed reading this article about panic attack in dogs! Did you find this article helpful? Feel free to share your thoughts. We would be happy to hear from you. Now, go back to taking care of your canine friend!