Dogs are incredible animals that serve as our best friends, our loyal companions, and our precious babies. They form such strong emotional attachments to us that some of them don’t know how to handle themselves when we leave the house for the day. Some of my younger dogs still have a hard time dealing with my temporary absence, and it causes them to act out.
So for all of you caring pet owners who are asking, “Can dogs have separation anxiety?”, the answer is: absolutely yes. Yes, they can, and there are many reasons why they might feel this anxiety. Whether your loved one suffers dog separation anxiety at night or anxiety in the car, there are helpful reasons (and solutions!) to help you make sense of what’s going on with your pup.
Why Do Dogs Get Anxiety?
Simply diagnosing a dog with “separation anxiety” does not make their symptoms specific enough to understand the best solution to helping them feel calm. Separation anxiety is used as an umbrella term that can cover a lot of more detailed symptoms of anxiety or fear.
All dogs act up when you’re about to leave the house, but that does not mean they have anxiety. Most dogs can calm down on their own after a few minutes. But if your fluffy friend is so anxious that he scratches at the door, cries nonstop, or tears up the home while you are away, then you are dealing with true dog anxiety.
But why does this happen?
Reasons For Dog Anxiety
There are plenty of reasons why dogs feel anxious, according to PetHub. Major anxiety disorders can be the result of a history of abandonment, meaning that your dog has had some traumatic experiences in the past that make him too scared to be left alone. It could also be that your dog hates the idea of being left at home at all. Perhaps he or she wishes they could accompany you on all of your adventures.
It can be hard to understand exactly why some dogs develop anxiety disorders. I like to use it as a learning opportunity to understand just how similar dogs and humans can really be! Just like some of us develop fears and anxieties, some dogs can display a wide array of anxiety symptoms as well.
Can Dogs Have Separation Anxiety At A Later Age?
There is such a thing as adult-onset anxiety. The physiology and bodies of your dogs change as they age. Just like how our bodies and minds start to wane as we get older, senior dogs can develop new fears and anxieties that they might not have had in the past.
Older dogs sometimes have a harder time adjusting to the idea of being left alone. Even if it is something they had grown used to in the previous years. They may no longer be able to handle being alone or they may start to develop new fears and paranoias leading them to think you are abandoning them.
Keep this in mind with any loving dog you have. Because as they grow older, new anxieties and health symptoms may crop up. This is why it is so important to understand anxiety in dogs as best as you can!
Different Types Of Dog Anxiety
The most common type of dog anxiety is the fear of separation, causing them to act out and hurt their environment. And most likely themselves - as a destructive way of dealing with these anxious feelings. But there are other situations or events that can trigger an anxious response in your dog.
Dog Separation Anxiety At Night
On the topic of dogs developing anxiety at a later age, dog separation anxiety at night is one of the biggest changes you might see in your senior dog when comparing his old and new behaviors. Since memory and learning deteriorate over time, your dog will start to develop fears she may have never had before.
According to the ASPCA, a reversed sleep-wake schedule is a common symptom in aging dogs. This means that your dog may sleep during the day but become more active at night, leading to the development of more anxious patterns of behavior after the sun goes down.
Dog Car Anxiety & Car Separation Anxiety
Some of our friendly fidos LOVE going for rides in the car! Nothing is more exhilarating for them than being able to stick their head out of the window and enjoy the air whipping past them as you drive down the road.
Other dogs are the complete opposite. Some dogs hate being in the car whether due to motion sickness or general fear about the idea of being trapped inside something that is moving. The loss of control over their environment and surroundings makes them feel scared, and can you blame them?
Thankfully, there are ways to get your dog to love riding in the car. It takes time to desensitize them to the fears they may be feeling. But there are plenty of treatments mentioned on our website that you can use to help your dog feel more content on long trips. And even if you don’t like investing in medication or tools, there are plenty of home remedies available to help them out.
Dog Thunderstorm Anxiety
Fear of thunderstorms is very common in small animals, especially dogs! I am utterly heartbroken every time a storm passes through and my Oscar hides under the couch or trembles at my feet. How do you explain to your pet that the storm can’t hurt them? They don’t know what is going on, and the loud rumbling noises are too much to bare.
I’ve found my dog hidden behind the toilet, in the closet, and under the bed. Sometimes Oscar will jump into my lap and refuse to move. It isn’t uncommon for your dogs to fear thunderstorms, and you should never ignore your furry loved ones when they are in this state.
There are a lot of things that contribute to a dog’s fear of thunderstorms. From the loud noises of the thunder to the changes in barometric pressure during a storm. Scientists suspect that storms give off even more noises than we can hear - but dogs can hear it all. This must be very uncomfortable and unsettling for them. Pair this with separation anxiety, and a thunderstorm, when you aren’t around, is basically a dog’s nightmare.
Get Treatment For Dog Anxiety ASAP
So, can dogs have separation anxiety, yes! There are many different treatments and products available to help your precious doggie feel calmer and more loved during times where their anxiety may be triggered. Whether they feel anxious about being home alone, or they hate traveling without you in their sight, there are many valid ways a dog can experience anxiety.
Dogs have emotional and psychological depths comparable to humans, so it’s important to take into account all the different factors in a dog’s daily life that can give them reason to fear. As a pet owner, it is your job to help them alleviate these fears by providing them with the resources and treatments necessary to make them happy.