How Long Do Dogs with Anxiety Live?

If you share your life with an anxious dog, you see the effects it has not only on your dog, but on everyone else in the household. You must also wonder how long your dog can cope with all that stress.

We can never predict how long any dog will live, let alone one with anxiety. What we do know from a study published about the effects of anxiety on lifespan, is that a fear of strangers was found to shorten a dog’s life.

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What Can Cause Anxiety in Dogs?

  • Separation from their owners
  • Sudden/loud noises
  • Strangers
  • Floor surfaces
  • Cars
  • Traveling/being in a new place
  • The vet
  • Abuse/neglect/mistreatment
  • Illness or suffering from a painful condition
  • Being forced into a new or scary situation
  • A history of not being able to escape from whatever caused the panic – for example: being locked in a cage or crate (this could be in a puppy mill, or even in their own home without being crate trained)

These are just a few things dogs can fear, but the reality is they could be afraid of pretty much anything.

Signs Your Dog is Stressed or Anxious

Signs vary depending on the severity.

  • Pacing
  • Panting
  • Crouching
  • Whining/whimpering
  • Drooling
  • Increased shedding
  • Tail tucked between his legs
  • Hide/try and run away
  • Excessive barking
  • Peeing and pooping in inappropriate places
  • Diarrhea
  • Licking/biting their body

Why Do So Many Dogs Experience Anxiety?

Abuse or mistreatment in a dog’s past can cause severe anxiety, as can a lack of socialization when they were puppies. When we talk about socialization, we mean helping a dog get used to living in our world. That involves introducing them to a wide variety of people, places and things.

Does Anxiety Worsen as Dogs Get Older?

If left untreated, it can absolutely worsen over time. It’s also quite common to find senior dogs become more anxious as they age, this is often due to vision and/or hearing issues, dementia or even discomfort from a health issue.

According to this study, ”The prevalence of noise sensitivity increased with age, especially fear of thunder. Similarly, fear of surfaces and heights increased with age, whereas hyperactivity/impulsivity and tail chasing decreased.”

How long do anxious dogs live

How Stress Affects Your Dog’s Body

Here is some research that discuss some of the effects stress can have on your dog’s body.

“For example, physiological responses to loud noises can include a dramatic (207%) increase in salivary cortisol, lasting for 40 mins or more; unexpected noises resulted in rapid responses including tachycardia, hypertension, and increased secretion of epinephrine and norepinephrine; and exposure to acute, irregular noises is associated with stimulation of the HPA axis and a rapid (within 15-min) increase in circulating cortisol concentrations.”

They also found, dogs with separation anxiety had an increase in severity and frequency of skin disorders.

Does Anxiety Shorten a Dog’s Life?

We just read about the physiological responses, and together with this abstract we see in some instances, it can shorten a dog’s life. “While neither stranger-directed fear nor any other fear or anxiety scales were related to specific causes of death, fear of strangers was found to be related to a significantly shortened lifespan.”

Can Dogs Recover from Anxiety?

That depends on how severe the anxiety is and what steps are taken to help. Even if your dog never fully gets over it, there is so much you can do that will, at the very least, reduce the level so he can lead a happier and more peaceful life.

How to Calm an Anxious Dog

Before we get into the specifics, here are three very important points.

♦ Make sure your dog has tags and a microchip with up to date contact information. Scared dogs can try and make a run for it, and if yours succeeds you want to increase the chances of finding him.

♦ Keep doors and windows locked, particularly if your dog has a severe noise phobia. Again, panicked dogs have been known to escape…or at least try!

♦ Never, ever punish your dog, even if he pees and/or poops on your beautiful new carpet, or chews the furniture. None of this is his fault.

Remove him from/manage the situation: If you find yourself in a situation where your dog is anxious, do your best to remove him as quickly as possible. When you can, it’s also helpful to avoid situations you know cause him stress.

Thundershirt: It is a vest that applies pressure to a dog’s body to induce a state of calm. Visit their website to learn more. Purchase on Amazon, or Chewy

Exercise: Both physical exercise and mental stimulation (games, puzzle toys etc…) are great stress relievers. To emphasize its’ importance, this study found, dogs with noise phobia and separation anxiety got less exercise.

Dog calming chews: There are many calming chews on the market that contain valerian or melatonin, both known to relax dogs. Purchase on Amazon or Chewy

Adaptil: Available as a plug in, collar or spray, this releases pheromones to help relax your dog. Purchase on Amazon or Chewy

Anti-anxiety medication: Speak to your vet about treatment options, and ask whether a low dose would help take the edge off.

Hire a trainer or behaviorist: You may benefit from someone experienced in helping anxious dogs, and they will give you a tailored plan to follow.

For a more detailed list of treatment options, this article “How to Calm Dog Anxiety Naturally (22 Easy Ways)” can help.

Have you noticed your dog’s anxiety affecting his quality of life? Has it caused any health issues? What caused your dog anxiety and what steps have you taken to help? Sharing helps others, so please leave your tips in the comment section below.

If you need advice on how to help your dog, get in touch to book your 30 minute or 45 minute online session. Not sure? Message me to book your FREE 15 minute, no obligation consultation. You’ll have the opportunity to talk about what’s going on, how it’s affecting you, your dog and your family, and I’ll explain how I can help. You can reach me via my FB page or website.

Resources

Prevalence, Comorbidity, and Breed Differences in Canine Anxiety in 13,700 Finnish Pet Dogs

Stress-Related Behaviors in Companion Dogs Exposed to Common Household Noises, and Owners’ Interpretations of Their Dogs’ Behaviors

Early Life Experiences and Exercise Associate with Canine Anxieties

The Effects of Fear and Anxiety on Health and Lifespan in Pet Dogs

 

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