You may not realize it, but stress can have a lot to do with your pet’s health problems. Stress and boredom can influence a dog’s gut health. Once the gut is compromised, your pet is at risk for a variety of ailments and health conditions.
Stress in humans can be brought on by financial problems, marital problems, or difficulties on the job. For pets, stress can be brought on by boredom, lack of exercise, not getting enough attention from the owner, or problematic relationships with members of the family or other pets in the household. There is actually a long list of situations that can be very stressful to dogs. When several factors come into play and stress increases, the immune system can get overburdened, and the potential for health problems increases.
Common Situations causing Stress in Dogs
- Dog litter separation
- Going to a new home and family
- House breaking
- Car rides to the veterinarian
- Nail Clipping
- Being left alone for long periods
- Training and Competition
Dog Litter Separation and Going to a New Home
Just imagine, puppies feeling safe with their litter mates and mother. Then, all of a sudden, they are being abruptly removed from everything they know and placed in a new home, with new people, new sounds, smells, and sights. You have to admit, that is a pretty scary thing, and that is how new puppies feel when you bring them home for the first time. You should always prepare yourself and think about how to help your new puppy deal with separation anxiety and how to help your puppy adjust to the new home.
I remember when my husband drove to Atlanta 10 years ago to get a puppy from a Dachshund breeder who was recommended to us. He was just to bring home one puppy, but came home with two! He said that when he got there, there were only two puppies left and he just couldn’t leave one behind. He really liked the boy who had an amazing color combination and such cute wrinkles on his short legs. And then there was the scraggly looking girl, too skinny, what you would call the runt of the litter. This little girl turned out to be the most precious dog with the biggest personality! She is very active and always wants to play with toys, while her handsome brother just wants to lay around and sleep.
In our situation, I know it helped that we got both puppies and those two weren’t separated from each other. They quickly adapted to their home and it was nice to see them grow up together.
Car Rides to the Veterinarian
A lot of dogs love riding in the car, but if the only time a dog gets to go on a ride in the car is to go to the veterinarian, it can turn into a stressful situation. For most dogs, things like getting shots and strangers prying and poking at their bodies is scary, and this unknowingly sets up travel fears. To prevent this from happening, try to take your dog in the car for visits other than to the vet. Go to a park, a pet supply store, a friend’s house, or simply just go for a ride in the car. Praise your dog for being good and do the same thing when you arrive home.
Leaving Dogs Alone for Long Periods of Time
We all love dogs, but most of us have a job or business to tend to and are often gone most of the day, or even all day long. However, dogs don’t like to be left alone for many hours at a time, especially when they are cooped up in an unnatural, confined environment. They want lots of attention and need an outlet for their energy. They need to be exercised and stimulated with toys and activity.
I think the worst kind of scenario is when there is just one dog. That dog will be very disenchanted every time you leave for long periods of time and will not be looking forward to the many hours of boredom. In this situation it would be helpful if the dog had a companion. Our neighbors for example are gone most of the day, but they have three dogs that are able to come out of the house and go back in through a door in the screened in porch. Those three dogs are very happy and always running and playing with each other.
When you have to board your dog because you are going on vacation or have to leave for some other reason, you are going to leave a very unhappy dog behind. For most dogs, being boarded in a kennel is an extremely stressful experience. Dogs do not like to be removed from their familiar surroundings and normal routines.
The stress and anxiety involved with having to be in a cage, being around strangers and excessive noise, can lower the resistance so that the dog becomes more susceptible to viruses. Even if the kennel maintains a high level of hygiene, there are still enough germs and microorganisms lurking around the premises to put your dog at risk.
Training and Competition
I would think that most dogs experience some kind of stress and anxiety when going to a training class or performance competition. One of our long term customers, Hans Buflod from Buflod German Shepherds in Waynesville, Ohio recently shared a story with me. Long time ago, when he traveled with his dogs to his very first training class to become a dog trainer, all the dogs in the class had diarrhea because this was a stressful situation for them.
The owners all thought they would need to go see a veterinarian to get their dog’s diarrhea treated. That’s when Hans pulled out a bag of Olewo Carrots which Kathy had sent with him for their own dogs. They all looked at the carrot pellets and said: “What is that, rabbit food?” Hans said: “No, those are Olewo Carrots!” He explained that it is a German product that is great for a dog’s health and the best natural cure for dog diarrhea. He shared his Olewo Carrots and the next day, none of the dogs had diarrhea anymore. No visit to the vet necessary.
Signs of Stress
- Diarrhea and vomiting
- Panting (when it is not hot)
- Shivering (when it is not cold)
- Constant licking and gnawing on feet and legs
- Excessive barking and whining
- Tail tucked between the legs
- Refusing treats
What to do about Stressed Pets
- Feed a good diet with high quality ingredients. Poor quality food can stress a dog’s body and compromise gut health, setting the stage for disease.
- Add extra nutrition like Olewo Carrots and Olewo Red Beets to your dog’s meals. Dogs receiving added nutrition are better protected to deal with stress and fight disease.
- Use herbal remedies like Rescue Remedy, or Happy Traveler to help stressed or anxious pets.
- Consider the physical environment you offer a dog and match the surroundings to the pet. For example, a Jack Russell Terrier is a high energy dog and needs more room than a small apartment can offer. On the other hand, a large, complacent dog might do just fine in an apartment.
- Remember that the key to a happiness and wellbeing is balance. While not enough exercise is not good for a dog, too much exercise or competition can also be harmful by causing undue stress. The same is true for socialization.
- Consider that major life changes like moving to a new home, bringing new pets into the family, getting a divorce, are almost always stressful.
- Inconsistency can frustrate your dog, whether it is an irregular feeding program or a lack of follow-through in training.
- Consider that boredom may be your dog’s stressor, or it may be harsh training methods.
- Make sure to take your dog to the vet for a thorough annual exam. Your dog may be experiencing chronic stress from unrecognized pain.