February 27, 2023 - By :

Does Your Stress Affect Your Dog’s Health?

It’s no secret that dogs can pick up on human emotions. You’ve likely heard things like “dogs can sense fear,” especially if you’re a pup parent. But, just how true is the idea that your stress can be sensed by your dog. And can your stress be causing your pet stress too?  When you feel stressed, your dog senses your emotions and can internalize them, becoming anxious. Recent studies have found that dog owners’ stress levels can significantly influence their canine companions’ stress levels. Additionally, these studies have found similar amounts of the stress hormone cortisol in dogs and their owners. So, before you let stress take over, remember to take a breath. You’re not just influencing your own health but your pup’s too.

Does Your Stress Affect Your Dog’s Health?

Your anxiety directly influences your dog’s stress. Researchers studied the relationship between 58 dogs and their owners, concentrating on hair cortisol concentrations (HCC). Cortisol is a hormone that people, dogs, and other animals release when stressed. The results indicated humans experiencing long-term stress had similar cortisol levels to their dogs. The conclusion was that dog owners can inadvertently pass their emotions and feelings to their dogs, resulting in a change in their dogs’ anxiety levels. Overall, the study appears to back up what many pet parents already knew. Dogs sense their owners’ feelings. And our emotions have a direct impact on our faithful furry friends.

Do Some Dogs Get More Stressed Than Others?

Just like people, every dog is unique with their own distinct personality and characteristics. Therefore, some pups may be more laid back than others, while others tend to get more excitable.  Another interesting tidbit to spring from these types of pet related research studies was that owners that spend more time with their dogs might have a greater influence on their stress levels. The assumption here is that spending more time together likely increases the emotional bond between a dog and their human. But us dog owners already knew that.  If you tend to be a more anxious person, then it’s likely your dog will get more stressed than if you were a generally calm individual. This is one of the reasons the dog trainers at Come.Sit.Stay stress to owners to remain calm when their dogs interact with new dogs and people. If you tense up, your dog senses it, potentially interpreting the situation as a dangerous one, acting out as a result. It could also be a possibility that certain breeds have more of a predisposition for stress than others, although much more study is needed. This concept could potentially provide valuable insight into pairing specific dogs with their owners. It could be especially useful in determining which pups would make the best service animals or emotional support animals for different individuals.

Signs Your Dog Is Stressed

If you think your dog has anxiety or is stressing out, look for these potential signs of pet stress.
  • Pacing or restlessness
  • Having accidents in the house
  • Panting heavily
  • Excessive barking or whining
  • Increased shedding
  • Hyperactivity
  • Aggression
  • Shivering
  • Drooling more than usual
  • Destructive behavior
  • Excessive licking or self-grooming
Stress can make your dog unhappy and also lead to other problems. For example, a dog that constantly licks their paws or elsewhere to reduce stress can end up with skin issues. If your dog gets stressed and engages in destructive behavior, they could hurt themselves.  If your dog displays any of these symptoms, do a mental tally of what’s potentially contributing to their stress. Knowing the root cause of your pet’s stress is the first step in making them feel better.  Next, act fast. It’s vital to remedy the situation quickly to avoid worsening conditions or serious health problems.  Come.Sit.Stay Dog Training is Jacksonville, Florida’s #1 In-Home Dog training service. 

Ways to Ease Your Dog’s Stress

Your own stress isn’t the only thing that can make your dog anxious. Your pup can also stress because they’re scared, sick, or dealing with separation anxiety. Since stress can affect your dog’s health, it’s essential to reduce your pup’s anxiety as much as possible.

Here are 7 ways you can help decrease your dog’s stress.

1. Take Care of Yourself

First, take care of yourself. Since there’s such a significant link between your stress and your dog’s, reducing your own anxiety is vital. Plus, it’s better for you since high stress levels can play a role in your health.

2. Provide Exercise and Stimulation

Make sure your dog has adequate exercise and access to stimulating activities. Consider an interactive toy that keeps your pup engaged and focused.

3. Let the Music Play

Play classical music or something similar with low frequencies and a slow tempo. The soothing sounds can help calm your dog and lower their stress level. As well as yours!

4. Doggy Massage

Settle down next to your dog and give them a relaxing massage. Physical touch is a very powerful stress reliever, and it also strengthens the bond between you and your pup.

5. Give Your Dog Their Own Space

Create a relaxing place for your pup that’s their own retreat. Let your dog know they always have a place to go to feel safe and secure.

6. Try Pet Products to Reduce Stress

Use products like calming sprays, diffusers, or stress treats to give you a helping hand with your pup’s stress. Spreading a tasty treat like peanut butter, pureed pumpkin, or soft dog food will encourages your dog to lick. Licking releases endorphins which help calm down your dog. (But keep a watchful eye, too much licking is bad for your pup). You can also try putting a compression coat like the Thundershirt on your dog. The pressure around your pup’s torso can help relieve stressful feelings.  If you’re very concerned about your dog’s stress and can’t seem to reduce it, talk to your vet. In some cases, your dog might need medication. At the very least, your vet can make sure there aren’t any underlying conditions contributing to your dog’s stress. *Always make sure to visit your veterinarian to rule out any medical conditions that may be the ruling  cause of your dog’s stress. Also always consult with your vet before giving your dog any calming spray or food.  

7. Seek Professional Help for Pet Stress

Working with the professional trainers at Come.Sit.Stay will help your dog handle various situations better. Plus, when your dog is trained, you might find you’re not as anxious when you’re out and about together. 

Don’t Stress About It

Overall, when you’re stressed, it can increase your dog’s stress levels, affecting them physically. The more time you spend with your pal, the more likely you will influence their anxiety levels. But, you certainly shouldn’t let the idea that you’re causing your pup to stress make you stress out even more. Instead, do what you can to take care of yourself, and let your canine companion be your support. You can also check out our other blogs for other helpful insights into how to ensure your dog is happy and healthy and well trained. If you’re looking for a free in-home consultation or if you have any questions please contact us at (904) 233-0608 or fill out a form by clicking here. We do all of our training within the comfort of your home and every part of our training is done with you, so you know exactly what we are doing.  We look forward to the opportunity of meeting you and your four-legged family. Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook for CSS updates and to learn more great dog training tips and tricks.

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