How are the recent changes due to COVID affecting your dog? With so much uncertainty and concern over the current situation that we find ourselves in, do our dogs pick up on our worries, anxiety and stress? Research shows that they do, and possibly more than we actually realise.
Change of any kind, such as disruptions to their routine, can cause your dog to become stressed and over anxious. Dogs become accustomed to a routine and changes can increase stress levels, even if the change is considered for the better.
The most worrying aspect of stress is the effect that cortisol has on our bodies, whether two or four legged. Cortisol is a hormone that is released from the adrenal gland when the body is in ‘fight or flight’ mode. Extensive periods of stress can weaken your dogs immune system and a weakened immune system can affect the body’s ability to fight off infections or disease. When the immune system isn’t functioning at its optimum you may see an increased level of sensitivities or allergies too.
Loss of appetite and digestive disorders are two common symptoms of stress. Those feelings of queasiness and worry hit our very centre - our gut - which becomes ‘out of sorts’. This is no different for our dogs.
We may see changes in our dogs behaviour. Our once calm and obedient tail waggers may start to be destructive in the home, lack focus or be very grouchy with other dogs or people. Their recall may be affected which is a classic ‘fight or flight’ response. Panting, repetitive licking and scratching are also common signs. Some paw parents note that their dog starts to urinate in the house! Sometimes dogs can become quiet and withdrawn.
Some tips to reduce our dogs stress; try to remain calm and positive yourself so that they don’t pick up on your anxiety. Keep to the same routine and if this has to be changed, get in to the new routine as quickly and as stress free as possible. Due to quarantine rules, it may not be possible to exercise your dog as you normally would so in these situations provide enough toys and games to keep your dog mentally stimulated.
These times of change are very stressful for everyone. We hope that you, and you fur babies, stay safe and keep well.
Love and woofs from the Proflax Team x