The long term impacts of stress have long been overlooked when it comes to our pets. In a human being, stress can result in health issues, it can interfere in our relationships with others, and we may become unbalanced, irritable and aggressive towards those around us. What makes us think that dogs don’t feel the effects of stress?
Here are some questions that you can ask yourself about your dogs behaviors. They will help you to determine if your friend is under stress.
Are they restless?
Do they display calming signals a lot?
Are they anxious?
Are they performing compulsive behaviors?
Do they appear “distant”?
Are they panting excessively?
Are they unable to maintain a healthy body weight?
Do they groom excessively?
Do the bark to frequently?
Are they frequently urinating?
Almost every behavioral problem within the dog realm is stress induced. How can you help to relieve your dog’s stress?
You need to find out what’s causing your dog to be stressed. We can reduce the impact of conflicting situations, simply by avoiding them to begin with. Just like for humans, a stressor is anything that creates stress symptoms in your dog. There are various stressors such as:
• Death of a person bonded to the dog
• Changing homes
• Death or loss of a fellow companion pet
• Keeping the dog locked in a cage for a long time
• Loud noises created by things like thunderstorms and construction
Dangerous levels of Cortisol can be produced by stress in your dog. This is a hormone that will cause significant health problems within your animal, if it reaches constantly high levels in the blood stream
There are three different stages to the stress reaction.
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1. Stage One: The Stage of Alarm Reaction. This is where the dog has an interaction with nervous impulses and hormone release causes optimum efficiency.
2. Stage two: The Resistance Stage. During this stage the dog attempts to cope with the current situation, lowering his resistance to other stresses in his life.
3. Stage Three: The Exhaustion Stage. When the stress persists continuously, the animal will no longer be able to cope. He will then begin what is referred to as “Adaptation Disease”.
This means that the problem will persist, and your dog will revert back into stage one. A persistently elevated blood Cortisol level, is the direct cause of adaptation disease.
Negative behaviors will occur with the dog because, the dog’s body can not be locked in a state of alarm continuously. If the stress persists for a long period of time, the dog will exhibit the behavior outlines in the three phases above.
Permanently elevated levels of Cortisol within your dogs system will weaken it’s immunities. Other serious consequences can be illnesses of the digestive system like stomach ulcers, and chronic diarrhea. In the long term, high Cortisol levels, promote serious damage to the adrenal gland, high blood pressure, heart attacks and even strokes.
If you believe that your dog has high stress levels, commit some time to making him or her feel less anxious. All dogs are unique, however, these are some basic tips that will put you on the right track to helping your canine friend:
* Make them feel safe and loved
* Practice quiet breathing together.
* Provide quality time with his/her owner
* Provide safe places for resting and quiet time
* Give them a life appropriate for a dog.
* Let them interact with other dogs, friendly cats and dog loving people.
* Take him for walks in fresh air.
* Offer a healthy diet.
Your dog will be a lot more content, once you de-stress him. When your dog is happy, you will be happy as well!
Annette Masse, better known as Betty Bulldog, has been loving and respecting dogs for 25 years. Sign up for her complimentary course for you and your dog at ForTheLoveOfDogZ.com
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