What Are the Symptoms of Stress in Dogs?

Written by melissa sherrard
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What Are the Symptoms of Stress in Dogs?
Some breeds, including Border Collies and Great Danes, often show symptoms of stress. (dog image by AGphotographer from Fotolia.com)

Dogs experience a wide range of emotions similar to those of humans, including excitement, jealousy, joy and even stress. Anyone who's ever owned a dog knows how each has a personality, habits and traits all its own, and this should always be taken into consideration when trying to identify symptoms of stress in our canine companions. Whether brought on by disease, danger or in reaction to an owner's actions, stress in dogs can be easily recognised if you know what to look for.

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Body Language

As a species that relies on its sophisticated communication skills, dogs are able to pick up on the most subtle of physical signals and react to their surroundings in the same manner. By understanding the slight changes in a dog's body language--including posture, stiffness or twitching--and even where it positions itself among a group, you can identify gestures that signal your dog is feeling stressed. Dogs in crouched or lowered positions, that have twitching or trembling skin, and can't seem so calm down or sit still are also showing symptoms of stress. Also be aware of your dog's facial expressions, and be aware of symptoms such as a furrowed brow, bearing teeth, lowered ears and even wandering eyes.

Oral Symptoms

There are several oral symptoms that can alert you to a dog suffering from stress. Prolonged panting, excessive licking of the lips and nose or even yawning can be signals of stress in your canine companion. Also, if a dog begins to drool abnormally, click its teeth, experience wheezy breathing or bark for no reason it may be experiencing stress.

Physical Symptoms

Other than agitated body language, there are several physical symptoms that can alert owners to stress in their dogs. Dilated pupils, repetitive squinting or blinking, bloodshot eyes or an overall "glazed look" are symptoms easy to identify, and warm noses, patchy coats and irritated skin are some warning signs that are simple to check for. Excessive licking or chewing, lack of focus and lost interest in playing, digging or eating are also physical signs of stress dog owners should be aware of.

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