Medical Causes of Canine Anxiety

There are many reasons why your dog may present signs of canine anxiety like compulsive behavior, pacing or destructive behavior. Psychological difficulties such as separation anxiety are quite common, but it is most important that you begin by ruling out a medical problem as the cause of your dog's anxiety. Here are some frequently reported medical causes for canine anxiety:


Hypothyroidism is sometimes a cause of anxious behavior in dogs. Hypothyroidism is a disorder that appears when your dog's thyroid gland produces less than the normal amount of thyroid hormone. Look for signs of the other symptoms associated with hypothyroidism such as; weight gain, hair loss, or lethargy. If you see these symptoms take your dog to the vet for a blood test of thyroid hormone levels.


The symptoms of thyrotoxicosis are also associated with a rare auto immune disorder called Grave's Disease involving enlargement of the thyroid gland. Several other very rare but dangerous conditions are associated with symptoms of Hypothyroidism and thyrotoxicosis so consult your vet quickly if you see these symptoms.


Encephalitis is an inflammation of your dog's brain tissue. This swelling is usually caused by one of several types of infection which may enter the brain in various ways, such as an insect bite or bacterial infection starting in the neck and / or nasal cavities. Herpesvirus has been found to cause viral encephalitis but it most often begins with viral canine distemper. Aggressive behavior is linked with encephalitis and other symptoms to watch for along with the anxiety are coma, seizures and clumsy gait.


Consider the possibility of diabetes or pre-diabetes if you see any of the following symptoms accompanying your dog's anxiety:

  • Sudden unusual weight loss even though your dog has a good appetite and eats normally.
  • Excessive thirst or a noticeable increase in water consumption.
  • Appearance of cataracts in the eyes or other signs of visual deficit or impairment.
  • Take your dog to the vet immediately if you see several or all of these symptoms. Delay could threaten your dog's life.

Hearing Loss

Dogs afflicted with hearing loss become anxious mainly because they startle easily. They may fail to hear simple commands and look like they are ignoring you. Hearing impaired dogs can also seem to be misbehaving. They may snarl or snap for no discernible reason when you come near them. You may falsely believe this behavior is ‘negative' or ‘aggressive' if you haven't considered possible hearing loss. Perhaps your dog just can't hear someone coming up behind her and is therefore startled in these situations. Sharp, sudden vibrations will also startle a hearing impaired dog. Of course your vet can test your dog's hearing and treat any related behavioral or medical problems.