Is Fear and Anxiety in Dogs a Health Risk?

Many dog owners struggle to cope with the effects of stress on their dogs, facing dog behaviour problems that range from non stop barking that irritates the neighbors to coming back home to a dog which has urinated or pooped in the house. But recent research has given us one other thing to fret about – the effect that fear and anxiety in dogs has on both their health and lifespan.

Although it has been shown in other species that the stress reaction to situations that create anxiety are linked with hormone and immune changes which are in turn related to disease and shortened lifespans, this research sought to demonstrate whether the same was correct for our dogs.

In a survey carried out by Nancy A. Dreschel from PennState, 721 owners of lately deceased dogs completed a detailed survey which was then analysed to find if there had been any correlation between behavior, anxiety and stress, disease and cause of death.

Results indicated that the more well behaved a dog owner thought their dog was, the longer the lifespan. Which is one of the best reasons I have come across in a very long time for spending the time training your dog!

On the other hand, dogs with acute fear and dogs with separation anxiety were shown to have an increased chance of getting skin disorders, and that they got them more frequently, and more severely.

Finally, while stress and fear were not directly related to the factors behind death in dogs, fear of strangers did corrolate with a significantly shortened length of life.

Hence if your dog is suffering with anxiety, don’t leave it in the hope it might sort itself out or go sometime soon. Get steps to cure it now. Or you might be adding health issues to their anxiousness and risk shortening your dogs life.

Author Venice Marriott is a writer, dog owner and runs the Dog Anxiety web site, which can provide help and information for owners dealing with anxiety in dogs. Get her free help sheet about the major symptoms of dog separation anxiety, when you head to the site.

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