Panic Attacks in Dogs

Panic attacks can be observed in dogs and are often triggered by noises or unusual situations. Panic attacks are difficult to identify, since dogs may manifest in various ways ranging from excessive barking and digging to excessive licking of the coat. Panic attacks should be recognized and treated, as emotional issues often lead to health issues and a weakened immune system.

Causes of Panic Attacks in Dogs

Dogs may be affected by panic attacks when encountering new situations or people or instances that may stress them. Your dog may start displaying panic attacks following a few events such as:

  • Exposure to noise (e.g. ambulances, fireworks or loud music)
  • A change of owners
  • The absence of a pet companion
  • Sudden changes in the dog’s bedding, environment
  • If you are away from your pet for a longer period of time
  • Traveling

The dog can display panic attacks if he feels threatened or abandoned. Fear can cause chemical reactions in the dog’s brain and the dog will have a response, which is often aggression or a panic attack.

Symptoms of Panic Attacks

Panic attacks in canines can take several forms and your dog may react in various ways such as:

  • Barking and aggression (even biting)
  • Excessive barking
  • Excessive chewing of skin and coat
  • Whining
  • Shaking
  • Digging or other behavioral problems

Typically, panic attacks are short and should subside once the dog gets a bit of attention from you or he is calmed. Many of these symptoms may be caused by a medical condition, so the vet may require a series of tests to rule out physical problems.

Treating Canine Panic Attacks

Panic attacks may be acute or recurrent. While acute panic attacks can be solved by calming your dog and making him feel more at ease, recurrent panic attacks may require medication treatment or other types of therapy. It is important to identify the possible causes of panic attacks in your dog, so that you know how to avoid them in the future. Your dog may also benefit of various alternative treatments such as:

  • Massage therapy
  • Aromatherapy
  • Pheromone therapy
  • Herbal remedies such as valerianum or chamomile

If non medication therapy is not effective, the vet will prescribe some anti anxiety medication such as valium and prozac. These drugs should be avoided as much as possible, as they have side effects and may change your dog’s behavior.  

Preventing Panic Attacks

Panic attacks in your dog may be prevented if you know the problem causing this type of behavior. You can eliminate the factors that trigger the attacks or try to replace any missing objects. If your dog has panic attacks due to the fact that you are away, you can hire a pet sitter or opt for pet daycare services. You should also make sure you spend more time with your pet. When planning to travel with your pet, you can consult your vet and get some sedatives.