Almost everyone by now knows chewing is a natural instinct among dogs. Dogs chew on stuff for many reasons, like boredom, teething pains, and hunger.
Among those, anxiety is also a big reason why dogs display destructive chewing behavior. As dog chew manufacturers, we get a lot of queries regarding whether giving dogs chewing toys or treats helps them with anxiety.
In short, yes, dog chews certainly help in curbing dogs’ anxiety. But how? And are these chews the be-all and end-all for dog anxiety?
Can Dogs Have Anxiety?
Yes, dogs can absolutely experience anxiety. Just like humans, they can feel nervous, fearful, or stressed in certain situations. Common signs include excessive barking, pacing, trembling, or withdrawal. It's important to provide love and support from the dog's parents.
Types of Dog Anxiety
Let’s start at the beginning. What kinds of anxiety do dogs have?
Dogs generally face four types of anxiety:
- Separation anxiety
- Rescue/shelter anxiety
- Anxiety triggered by environmental factors
- illness-induced anxiety
- Generalized anxiety
Separation anxiety, which seems to be the most severe anxiety-related problem among dogs, are behavioral issue dogs have when they are away from their guardians. This happens when the guardians leave or prepare to leave and is most extreme when nobody is around them.
Rescue/shelter anxiety is when dogs feel scared and uneasy at a new home after being rescued. Emotional abandonment and trauma they face before and during their time at the shelter cause this.
Environmental factors like loud noises and startling movements also trigger anxiety in dogs. This is because they do not know where the noise or the movement originates and if they are harmful.
And finally, illness-induced anxiety, as the name suggests, is anxiety triggered when dogs are sick. Health issues like Hypothyroidism, Thyrotoxicosis, Pre-diabetes, and hearing and vision loss cause unease in dogs.
Other than these, dogs can also have generalized anxiety, which means the triggers for those can not be determined.
Signs of Anxiety in Dogs
Signs of anxiety in dogs are excessive barking, pacing, trembling, or hiding. Tail tucked, ears back, and dilated pupils can also indicate anxiety. Changes in appetite or sleep patterns may occur. Pay attention to these cues to help your furry friend feel more at ease.
Destructive Chewing as a Result of Anxiety
While chewing is a natural behavior among dogs that they use to explore the world around them, destructive chewing, on the other hand, is not natural.
What is Destructive Chewing?
Destructive chewing is when dogs munch on things they are not meant to munch on and, as a result, destroy them. This can be your shoes, electrical wires, or even doors and furniture.
Whatever the object may be, out-of-control chewing is one of the signs that your dog may have some issues. Of course, it could always just be your puppy teething or hungry, but it could also be a symptom of anxiety.
Separation anxiety tends to trigger the most destructive chewing behavior in dogs. For example, dogs with separation anxiety might chew on door frames, furniture, fabric, or anything else they might find around the house.
They do this either to release their frustration about being away from their guardians or to find an escape route from the place they are trapped in without human presence.
In any case, these acts might result in mouth and teeth-related injuries. So, it is in the best interest of both the animal and the parents to curb these harmful behaviors.
How Dog Chews Help with Dog Anxiety
Dog anxiety and destructive chewing have many solutions, and providing them with dog chews is one of them. However, it is not as straightforward as it sounds.
It is common knowledge that chewing helps release endorphins, or “happy” hormones, in dogs. It helps relieve stress and soothe them — it acts as a sort of self-medication.
Dog chews, like our Tibetan Dog Chews, provide dogs with great objects to gnaw on. But dog chews are helpful only in cases of mild anxiety.
Only Helpful for Mild Anxiety
For mild anxiety, dog chews are useful as part of a wider counterconditioning treatment. This is a process of getting dogs used to being alone and teaching them to associate alone time or time away from their guardians with good things.
Over time, dogs adapt to being alone and associate things they love, like dog chews, puzzle toy filled with food, or their favorite treats, with loneliness. It is better to provide them with low-fat content food so they do not develop other health issues while already dealing with anxiety.
Tibetan Dog Chews are an excellent choice for this as they are yak cheese chew sticks with very low-fat content. They are also a better choice because of their long-lasting nature, thus providing them with something to gnaw at for hours.
They are edible and thus pose little risk of dogs inhaling something they should not, though we always recommend supervising your dogs while they enjoy any kind of dog chew. Additional benefits include their texture and flavor.
How to Help a Dog With Anxiety?
To help a dog with anxiety, create a calm environment, offer regular exercise, and establish a routine. Yak chews, known for their long-lasting chewiness, can provide soothing distraction. Consult a vet or a professional trainer for tailored advice. Comfort, patience, and love are key!
Dog anxiety is a serious issue among many dog parents, and in many cases, it goes unnoticed for a long time. Recognizing and treating this behavioral issue will make your and the dogs' lives a lot better.
Providing dog chews can be a good start to treating anxiety if you recognize behavioral changes in your puppers.
Whether edible or non-edible, dog chews, toys, and treats play a vital role in helping dog parents and their anxiety-stricken fur-babies. However, they are only a cog in the bigger machine that is the dog anxiety treatment. They are not a solution on their own.
If you enjoyed this article, you might also like our blog regarding what foods dogs can and cannot eat.