Helping Your Dog Through Grief or a Stressful Home Situation
Dogs do much more than share living space with people. They are susceptible to our moods and changes in their environment. If you are dealing with a death in the family, a divorce, a severe illness or another significant event, you may notice that your pet is experiencing symptoms of stress, much like you are.
Here are some tips for recognizing grief and stress in your dog and what you can do to help him, or her get through the event.
Everyday Situations That Increase Grief and Stress in the Home
Because dogs are sensitive creatures that pick up on the energy and emotions in the home, they often develop symptoms that indicate stress levels are high. Some common reasons a dog may become stressed and show signs of it in their daily behavior include:
- When a family member dies or moves away
- A family member is seriously ill
- The introduction of a new person or animal is brought into the household
- Loud noises like thunder, fireworks or even construction noise
- Lack of exercise or reduced interaction with family members
- Negative training methods
- Constant changes in rules and environment, such as during a move, creating a sense of uncertainty
- Parental problems such as going through a divorce
Signs Of Stress in Dogs
Canines may develop gastrointestinal upsets, avoidance behavior, “slinking” in a lower body position or stiff movements. In addition, there may be more vocalization, growling, barking, or whining for no obvious reason. The animal may stop eating or cling to someone in the household.
Dogs sometimes become destructive, chewing up furniture or other items. They may sleep more, groom themselves constantly or have “accidents” in the house. These symptoms in a usually calm dog can be upsetting, but they are also a sign that you need to find ways to lower stress levels in the home.
Unmanaged Stress Affects Canine Health
Stress affects canine health much as it does in humans. The tension can lead to higher blood pressure and increased heart rate. Stress hormone levels increase, diminishing the body’s ability to fight disease. In addition, immune system function drops, reducing the ability to fight infection and inflammation.
If your household is experiencing a high level of stress, do all you can to keep the situation as calm and routine as possible. This will help both you and your pet deal with the stress more efficiently.
Spending Time with a Pet is The Best Remedy for Stress
Taking the time to spend time with your dog is often the best way to help them deal with stressful situations. Make sure your dog gets daily exercise. Canines are a walking species that thrive when they are given a chance to work off their energy with walking and playtime.
Check your dog’s diet to ensure it provides enough protein, vitamins, and minerals for their needs. Adding a canine vitamin can sometimes boost immune function and the ability to deal with stress. If you want to give treats, connect them to positive behavior, like sitting, waiting, or lying down. This helps the animal to feel more purposeful.
Talk to your dog frequently. It doesn’t matter what you say. It’s your tone and energy that matter. This activity helps the animal to feel more connected and more secure.
Your Veterinarian Can Help with Other Measures
If your dog still exhibits signs of stress after trying these measures, make an appointment with your veterinarian for a checkup. The vet will ensure that the reactions are not a sign of illness and can provide advice for helping the dog achieve a greater sense of security. In some cases, medication can help get the animal over the worst of the stress reaction, while the owner employs other techniques to reduce their stress.
Suppose you have ever had to deal with a very stressful situation, like divorce. In that case, you can imagine what a dog might experience, a creature that can’t use words to express itself to make the situation more manageable.
Dogs rely on their owners to provide the remedy by creating a calmer, more reliable environment and giving daily interaction that tells them that everything will be all right.
Is Divorce Happening in Your Home?
Divorce is a highly challenging time that is a cause of stress, quite a bit for sure. But, as we have mentioned, a divorce between two people not only causes stress amongst them, it causes anxiety and tension among the children and dogs alike.
Dalena & Bosh have a well-qualified and experienced team of divorce attorneys who know how to lend a passionate hand during this difficult time. Please speak with us. We want to ease your mind, guide, and help you through your divorce, resulting in a much happier and stress-free person YOU, which follows with your child, children, and your dog or dogs!