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Pet First Aid: Mental Health


As pet parents, we’re used to making sure our pooches are in good physical health by exercising them, feeding them a balanced diet, grooming them properly and making regular trips to the vet for check-ups. But what about their mental health?

 Many people aren’t aware that dogs can also experience mental health concerns such as anxiety. So, in this blog, we’re looking at the signs of pet mental health and share tips on how you can help.

Lab on their bed with a tennis ball

Mental health issues in dogs

It’s not uncommon for pet parents to brush off their dog’s abnormal behaviour, such as personality, temperament, or doggy quirks - so long as they aren’t harming anyone else. But the truth is, our pooches can experience a number of mental health conditions. Here are some of the most common:

Noise anxiety

Loud noises can be startling for humans, never mind animals who have heightened hearing and who don’t understand the context of the chaos. An animal suffering from noise anxiety will display similar signs to those experiencing social or separation anxiety. However, a sudden change in behaviour during thunderstorms or fireworks, or when other loud noises occur, is a clear sign that your dog is anxious and/or stressed in those circumstances.

Separation anxiety

Separation anxiety is a disorder that causes pups to panic if they’re left alone or are separated from things or people they have a strong emotional connection with, such as their home, their humans or other animals. Dogs experiencing separation anxiety may bark frantically, display destructive behaviour (chewing shoes, furniture, getting into the trash), or even mess in the house.

Retriever under cover

Social anxiety

A dog experiencing social anxiety could have a fear of other animals, people, unknown places, sights and sounds. For example, some dogs are perfectly happy when they are around their family and are in their home but may become anxious around strangers or new places. The level of anxiety in a social setting can vary depending on the dog. It can cause a dog to behave in ways that are not normally observed when in a familiar environment. They may become timid, feel trapped and afraid, or become aggressive.

How to support your dog’s mental health

Some of these conditions may be part of your dog's long-term mental health journey, requiring close attention, patience and lots of love and care.

In some cases, your pooch may need medical treatment if the symptoms and behaviour are ongoing. However, some symptoms may be temporary reactions to something that is happening right now. In this case, here are some things you can do to help your dog:

Exercise and mental stimulation

Just like humans, a dog’s mood can become affected if they begin to lead a sedentary lifestyle. This can sometimes cause erratic or destructive behaviour due to boredom or frustration. Making time to exercise your dog, play with them and soak up that one-on-one time can provide physical and mental stimulation, which can help prevent or reduce these behaviours.

Massage and body awareness

Dogs respond well to body awareness exercises, strength training and conditioning classes, which can help them feel energised, more confident and aware of their body and actions. For anxious pooches, a gentle massage may help ease stresses and create a sense of calm. Be sure to monitor your dog as you do this; some dogs may even find touch stressful, so take this one step at a time, depending on your dog.

Natural or prescribed medicines

Sometimes mental health conditions are caused by physical pain or illnesses. In this case, you should consult your vet for the most appropriate treatment. For pet parents who would prefer to treat their dog with holistic remedies, there are natural ingredients reported to support such behaviours.

Try YuMOVE Calming Care

YuMOVE Calming Care for Dogs is one of our premium supplements designed to support natural calming pathways in the brain. It’s a simple but effective way to help reduce anxiety or stress and support your dog.

Regular visits to the vet

Regular trips to your vet will give you peace of mind that your furry friend is happy and healthy. While it is true that mental health issues such as separation anxiety can resolve on their own over time, it can also worsen if left unchecked. Often, ongoing support and training are needed to address difficult behavioural challenges. Professional support can often help get you the best results. Your vet will be able to recommend reputable behaviourists or trainers you can work with.

For more tips on how to care for your canine's mental health and wellbeing, why not take a look at our top tips on how to combat pet loneliness?

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