Free magazine for dog enthusiasts everywhere K9 Perspective on-line magazine. Dog information resource. Go to page one of this issue Go to page 5 of K9 Perspective issue 45 Go to page 7 of K9 Perspective issue 45 mans best friend

What causes stress in dogs?

STRESS can be caused by both physical and emotional problems and both may interact: Lets look at some physical stresses:

Infection Dehydration Injury
Excessive exercise Malnutrition Toxic chemicals
Surgery Allergies Extreme cold
Food sensitivities Extreme heat Respiratory problems
Hunger Lack of rest Thirst
Lack of sleep Change in health state Abuse
Pain Female in season Busy stud dog
Incorrect hydrotherapy Poor diet Rough and tumble play
Discomfort Chasing games High activity games
Dog shows

Now lets look at some emotional stresses:

Anxiety disorders Communication problems Conflict dog-dog
No choices Conflict human-human Too many commands
Conflict dog-human Abuse Re-homing
Lack of space No shelter Lack of toilet opportunity
No place to rest or sleep Christmas Major event
Death (human or canine) Change of location Female in season
Weather Lack of rest or sleep Being trapped
Left in crate too long Lack of relationship Poor nutrition
Panic attacks Fright from fireworks Visitors
Visiting the vet Therapists Noise levels
Air fresheners Incense, oils, perfume DAP diffusers
Frustration Anger Hurry or speed
Threatening situations Challenge Confidence reduction
Scary things Exciting things Annoying things
Depression Being shouted at

This is not a comprehensive listing but don't be frightened of this list and start to think there is no hope. There is always hope and we can do something about it. Not everything in the list will affect your dog. What may stress one dog may not stress the next. It depends on the dog, the owners, the dog’s health state, ability to cope, stess tolerance level, breed, genetics, lifestyle and environment.

If your dog is showing signs of stress you will need to know why. Look at the list and try to determine what may be the cause of your dog's stress. You may need the help of a behaviourist and your veterinarian to help you find the cause. Some causes can be hidden.

High adrenalin can mask pain. Highly aroused dogs can sometimes hide all the symptoms of pain until a disease is very far advanced. This is for survival. If a dog shows signs of pain it may be harmed by its pack members or may be a target for other predators.

In addition to emotional and physical stress that can produce lowered adrenal function, there are chronic conditions or lifestyles that continually drain the adrenals and prevent them from recouperating.

Recouperation happens during rest and sleep. Giving your dog sufficient rest is important. I like to give dogs between 16 and 18 hours’ sleep per day. If the dog is eating a poor diet, you can be sure that adrenal glands, brain and all the dog's body functions are not getting the nutrients needed to respond well in a crisis.

Look at your dog's excrement. How firm is it? On a scale of 1–5, one being very firm and five being runny with 3 being the ideal firmness. Make note daily of the textures, firmness and colour. This will give your veterinarian an idea of what may be going on in the digestive tract.

Look at your dog's environment - is your dog living and walking in a toxin-free environment? Probably not. We are living in the days of nutrient-depleted soils, toxic wastes dumped in landfills, pollution in the air, the water, pescticides on our fruit and vegetables and preservatives in our food.

Providing your dog with organic food, giving filtered water and walking your dog in parks or forests away from roadsides can make a big difference to the dog’s health state.

A little stress is normal and necessary. Dogs need a little anxiety for survival, to drive them to hunt for food. It’s when the stress becomes prolonged that it becomes a problem and we start to see many signs associated with long-term stress. Once you have determined your dog’s stress levels and what makes your dog stressed you are on the road to making a difference in your dog’s life.

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