Causes and Effects of Dog Anxiety

Feb 24


Martina P Smith

Martina P Smith

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Anxiety disorder in dogs can be caused by an illness, previous stint at the rescue center, separation among other causative agents. The disorder is characterized by a dog tucking himself between his legs, being reclusive, avoiding eye contact, among other signs.


The effects of an anxiety disorder include inappropriate elimination,Causes and Effects of Dog Anxiety Articles development of destructive behavior, and aggressive vocalization. It is recommended you seek the advice of the veterinarian 

If your dog tucks between his legs so often or seems restless most of the time, or he avoids eye contact and prefers to retreat in his kennel, there is a likelihood he has an anxiety disorder. Of course, these behaviors don’t always mean anxiety disorder is the case. That is why you need to seek the advice of the veterinarian if you observe your dog acting that way.

Other than the aforementioned indicators, an anxiety disorder can be manifested by these signs and symptoms:

- Destructive behavior

- Spontaneously elimination (bowel movement and urination)

- Excessive licking

- Displacement behavior (air sniffing, lip licking, yawning)

- Excessive licking

- Passive escape 

It is perfectly OK for a dog to display these behaviors once in a while. But when it becomes a common occurrence, you know there is something to worry about. Sometimes it can be obvious to you what is the cause behind these changes and sometimes it can be hard to the point of requiring the veterinarian’s attention.

Dog anxiety can be caused by many factors some of which may be at play at the same time.

What causes Dog Anxiety?

Here is why your dog may be anxious:

1. Separation

Dogs are like kids and everyone else: they almost always react to separation, sometimes irrationally. If your dog is always attached to you, as it is always the case with most dogs, he is likely to freak out if left alone or with an unfamiliar caregiver. He may develop separation anxiety in the process, destroying your furniture and howling uncontrollably as a result. Separation is one of the top causative factors of anxiety disorder in dogs.

2. A stint at the rescue center or shelter

Most dogs end up at rescue centers after abandonment or mistreatment by former owners – those are not nice experiences. The experience from traumatic situations and separation coupled with unpredictable routines or sudden changes in the environment may cause anxiety. A behaviorist, the veterinary version of a psychologist, can be of great help in helping the dog erase the traumatic experiences. 

3. Illness

Sometimes fear reactions and anxiety go hand in hand and a disease may be behind them. Illness-induced anxiety occurs spontaneously, suddenly turning a normally settled dog into an untrusting and restless fella. Diseases and conditions such as Hypothyroidism (failure of the thyroid glands to secret right amounts of hormones), encephalitis (inflammation of the brain), loss of vision or hearing, and Thyrotoxicosis (autoimmune disorder affecting the dog’s thyroid glands) can be causative factors. 

Effects of Dog Anxiety

Here is what anxious dogs do:

Aggressive vocalization: They resort to unreasonable howling and whining most of the time. Note that uncontrolled barking doesn't pass as an indicator of anxiety disorder

Destructive behavior: They scratch and bite soft surfaces like leather and sponge off furniture and other property

Inappropriate elimination: They urinate everywhere including unwanted places like inside the house


An anxious dog can be a destructive one. Like any other pet, dogs are prone to be destructive when battling an illness or disorder like anxiety. To understand the real cause of the anxiety, you need to take him to the veterinarian. In most cases, training from a behaviorist –the veterinary version of a psychologist – is all a dog needs to recover.