Ask the Vet: Helping a Woof Reader’s Dog Struggling with Anxiety

Dear Woof,

You always have a very informative article in your magazine, so I thought I would write and see if you could look into something we desperately need… Anxiety behavior, symptoms and help. Tommie is a sweet boy, but he does things I’ve never seen before… paw sucking and crying with a toy in his mouth until he is pegged for hours. We are taking him to a doggie psychologist, but I think many people would benefit from this information. Thank you again, I adore your publication! Ashley and Tommy ADD_THIS_TEXT

Dear Ashley (and Tommy),

Behavior problems are the number one reason why our pets are surrendered.  The importance of early detection and treatment cannot be stressed enough. I am happy to hear that you are already seeking professional veterinary behavior advice.  General anxiety disorder is one of the most common diseases that affect our dogs.  Clinical signs can be as simple as being nervous around strangers to being so afraid that you cannot get your dog outside! Behavior issues usually build slowly, so watch for any change in behavior or routine.

Dogs tend to be creatures of habit, so if they start to sleep in an other room, not want to go on walks, change in appetite, or even the behaviors you discussed [it can indicate a problem]! After recognizing the problem, the next step is to have your dog seen.  Some dogs that may appear to have a behavior issue may be not eating not because they are stressed, but because they have an upset stomach.  Besides a thorough physical exam, your veterinarian will likely run blood work.  Once a medical issue is ruled out your veterinarian may suggest a training program if the behavior can be retaught.  Make sure to work with a trainer that does not use aversive techniques, such as prong collars or shock collars, as this is proven way to scare your pup even more.  Tough cases or cases that are not responding as desired, can be referred to a veterinary behaviorist.  By working together, your team of vet, trainer, and vet behaviorist can formulate a plan to help you and your pup to live a healthier life!

This has been ask Dr B.  Remember wag more, bark less! Dr B

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