Medications for Treating Anxiety in Dogs

Aura Health Team
Written by
Aura Health Team
Aura Health Team
Written by
Aura Health Team
Medications for Treating Anxiety in DogsMedications for Treating Anxiety in Dogs

If you've ever had a furry friend who experiences anxiety, you know just how challenging it can be to see them in distress. Anxiety in dogs can manifest in various ways, from excessive barking and destructive behavior to tremors and restlessness. The good news is that there are medications available to help alleviate their anxiety and provide them with the peace of mind they deserve.

Understanding Anxiety in Dogs

Anxiety in dogs is more common than you might think. Just like humans, our canine companions can experience fear and stress in various situations. Whether it's separation anxiety when you leave the house or fear of loud noises like thunderstorms, understanding the signs of anxiety is crucial in helping your dog feel calm and secure.

When it comes to anxiety in dogs, it's important to remember that they can't express their feelings verbally. However, their behavior speaks volumes. Some common signs of anxiety in dogs include excessive panting, drooling, pacing, trembling, destructive behavior, and even aggression. These behaviors may vary depending on the individual dog and the specific trigger of their anxiety.

Excessive panting is one of the most noticeable signs of anxiety in dogs. When a dog is anxious, their heart rate increases, and they may start to breathe rapidly. This can result in heavy panting, which is a clear indication that your furry friend is feeling stressed.

Drooling is another common sign of anxiety in dogs. When dogs are anxious, their salivary glands can go into overdrive, causing them to drool excessively. This can be particularly evident when your dog is facing a situation that triggers their anxiety, such as a visit to the vet or encountering a new and unfamiliar environment.

Pacing is a behavior often seen in dogs with anxiety. They may repeatedly walk back and forth in a specific area, unable to settle down. This is their way of trying to cope with their anxious feelings and find comfort. It's important to note that pacing can also be a sign of other medical conditions, so it's essential to consult with a veterinarian to rule out any underlying health issues.

Trembling is another physical manifestation of anxiety in dogs. When a dog is anxious, their muscles may tense up, causing them to shake or tremble. This trembling can range from mild to severe, depending on the level of anxiety your dog is experiencing.

Destructive behavior is a common coping mechanism for dogs with anxiety. When they feel overwhelmed, they may resort to chewing on furniture, shoes, or other household items. This destructive behavior not only causes damage to your belongings but can also be dangerous for your dog if they ingest something harmful.

Aggression can also be a sign of anxiety in dogs. When dogs feel threatened or scared, they may display aggressive behaviors as a way to protect themselves. This can include growling, snarling, or even biting. It's important to remember that aggression is a symptom of anxiety and not a reflection of your dog's true nature.

Causes of Anxiety in Dogs

Anxiety in dogs can have various causes. It could be triggered by environmental factors such as being left alone for long periods, changes in routine, or traumatic experiences. For example, if a dog had a negative encounter with another dog, they may develop anxiety around other dogs in the future.

Additionally, some breeds are more prone to anxiety than others. Breeds such as Chihuahuas, Border Collies, and German Shepherds are known to be more susceptible to anxiety. This can be due to their genetic predisposition or their high energy levels, which can make them more prone to stress and anxiety.

Furthermore, anxiety in dogs can also be a result of a certain medical condition. For instance, dogs with thyroid imbalances or hormonal issues may exhibit signs of anxiety. It's important to consult with a veterinarian to rule out any underlying medical causes for your dog's anxiety.

Identifying the root cause of your dog's anxiety is crucial in determining the most effective treatment. Once you understand what triggers your dog's anxiety, you can work on implementing strategies to help them feel more secure and relaxed. This may include behavior modification techniques, creating a safe and comforting environment, or even considering medication under the guidance of a veterinarian.

Remember, every dog is unique, and what works for one may not work for another. Patience, understanding, and a tailored approach are key when it comes to helping your anxious dog lead a happier and more peaceful life.

Types of Anxiety Medications for Dogs

When it comes to treating anxiety in dogs, there are several types of medications available. Each type works differently, targeting specific neurotransmitters in the brain to help your furry friend find relief from their anxiety.


Benzodiazepines are commonly prescribed for dogs with acute anxiety. They work by enhancing the effects of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a neurotransmitter that helps calm the brain. Benzodiazepines can have sedative effects and are typically used on a short-term basis or as-needed during particularly stressful situations.

Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs)

SSRIs are a type of medication commonly prescribed for both humans and dogs with anxiety disorders. They work by increasing levels of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that plays a crucial role in regulating mood. SSRIs are often used for long-term treatment and may take several weeks to show their full effect.

Tricyclic Antidepressants (TCAs)

TCAs are another class of antidepressant medication that can be effective in treating anxiety in dogs. Similar to SSRIs, they work by increasing the levels of serotonin in the brain. TCAs are generally used for long-term treatment and may require a period of adjustment to find the right dosage for your dog.

How to Administer Anxiety Medication to Dogs

Administering medication to a dog can be a challenging task, but with the right approach and patience, it can become a routine that benefits both you and your furry companion.

Dosage Guidelines

Follow your veterinarian's dosage instructions carefully and make sure to give the medication as directed. Dosage is typically determined based on your dog's weight and severity of anxiety. It's essential not to adjust the dosage on your own, as it can lead to adverse effects or reduce the effectiveness of the medication.

Tips for Giving Medication to Your Dog

Some dogs are more resistant to taking medication than others. To make the process easier, you can try hiding the medication in a treat or mixing it with a small amount of food. If your dog is particularly challenging to medicate, consider using a pill dispenser or ask your veterinarian for alternative options, such as liquid or chewable forms.

Potential Side Effects of Anxiety Medications

Like any medication, anxiety medications for dogs can have potential side effects. It's important to be aware of these effects and discuss them with your veterinarian.

Common Side Effects

Common side effects of anxiety medications for dogs may include drowsiness, increased thirst and urination, upset stomach, and changes in appetite. Many of these side effects are mild and temporary, but if they persist or worsen, it's crucial to consult with your veterinarian.

Serious Side Effects

Although rare, some dogs may experience serious side effects from anxiety medications. These can include allergic reactions, severe sedation, or changes in behavior. If you notice any concerning symptoms, seek veterinary attention immediately.

Natural Remedies and Alternatives to Medication

While medications can be effective in managing anxiety in dogs, some pet owners prefer to explore natural remedies or alternative treatments.

Behavioral Therapy for Dogs

Behavioral therapy, conducted by a professional trainer or veterinarian, can help in addressing the underlying causes of anxiety in dogs. Techniques such as counter-conditioning, desensitization, and positive reinforcement can be effective in reducing anxiety and teaching dogs coping mechanisms.

Natural Supplements for Anxiety in Dogs

There are several natural supplements available that can help calm anxious dogs without the use of medications. These supplements often contain ingredients like chamomile, valerian root, and melatonin, known for their soothing and relaxing properties.

Remember to consult with your veterinarian before introducing any natural remedies or alternative treatments to ensure they are safe and appropriate for your dog's specific needs.

Managing anxiety in dogs requires patience, understanding, and sometimes, the help of medication or alternative treatments. By working closely with your veterinarian and exploring the options available, you can help your furry friend find the peace of mind they deserve and unlock a happier, calmer life.

For additional support in managing your dog's anxiety, consider trying the Aura Health App. With its soothing music, guided meditations, and calming exercises, Aura can help create a relaxing environment for both you and your furry friend. Discover the benefits of mindfulness and meditation and embark on a journey towards a calmer life together.

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July 1, 2023
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