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  1. dogs stress and anxiety

Dog Stress and Anxiety Tips

Dog Stress and Anxiety Tips

Explore expert vet advice for how to help a dog with anxiety or manage dog anxiety symptoms.
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Holiday Stress Causing Dog Stress Diarrhea: How To Manage It

Posted by Dr. Roth on November 19, 2022

Stress & Anxiety
What to do if?
Wellness Care
How To Manage Your Dog's Diarrhea Caused by Holiday Stress

The holiday season is often a time to celebrate with friends and family, but dogs can experience anxiety during this time. That's especially true when family dogs are used to a quiet lifestyle.

Their emotional distress has an impact on their body, causing changes in their bowel movements. Pet parents who know the signs of dog stress diarrhea can take steps to treat it promptly.

Causes of Holiday Stress for Dogs

Like humans, dogs are creatures of habit. They'll feel stressed whenever their typical routine changes.

Dogs can get anxious, depressed, and withdrawn because of parties since these events can involve raucous guests, music, fireworks, and other loud noises or unsettling sounds. Holiday celebrations also introduce dogs to many new smells, which can overwhelm them.

Can a dog get diarrhea from stress? Dogs can become so stressed that it affects the function of their gastrointestinal tract, causing diarrhea. This is known as dog stress colitis. When a dog experiences anxiety during a triggering eventlike travel, they'll have diarrhea from their large intestine that could last three days.

Dog parents will see changes in a stressed pet's body language, such as a low tail, ears held back, and leaning backward. Dogs will display these signs long before their anxiety disrupts their bowel movements.

 When parents notice signs of stress, they can take steps to help their dog relax, thereby preventing diarrhea and other problems associated with canine stress colitis.

Holiday Traveling

The immune systems of cats and dogs react to stressful situations by causing inflammation in their guts and other parts of their bodies. As such, when a dog is excited when traveling to the airport or a boarding facility during a holiday, they will sometimes have diarrhea.

Pet parents sometimes notice that dogs become excited by the sights, sounds, and smells of traveling. Dogs could become withdrawn and anxious because of symbols they associate with travel, such as luggage.

Separation Anxiety

Some parents go away during the holidays, leaving their dogs at a boarding facility. Dogs can become anxious while boarding because they associate their parents with safety. If they're physically separated from them, they'll feel insecure and anxious.

Additionally, dogs might not receive their regular diet while boarding. Changes to their diet, or even the absence of their favorite bowl, can make a dog anxious, resulting in stress colitis. 

Dog parents might spend extended time away from home shopping for holiday gifts. Dogs may also become anxious during this type of extended absence.

Unfamiliar Places and People

Many dogs become anxious when they move to a new neighborhood, so if their parents bring them when they go to visit friends or relatives during the holidays, they may feel discomfort because of their new surroundings. These dogs may also be wary of strangers, and being forced to meet lots of new people can trigger stress colitis.

Common Signs of Stress Colitis in Dogs

During the holidays, dogs might have bouts of diarrhea or lack of appetite because of stress colitis. They usually show the following clinical signs:

  • Excessive gas

  • Loose or soft stools 

  • Changes in stool color 

  • Blood in their stool 

  • Increased bowel movements 

  • Cramping while passing stool 

  • Painful bowel movements 

If pet parents suspect their dog has stress colitis, they should immediately take steps to reduce their dog's stress by removing the stressor. They should also implement other vet-recommended treatments.

How To Minimize Stressful Events for Your Dog

Knowing a dog's triggers can help pet parents prevent stress colitis. If a dog usually becomes anxious around holiday visitors, their parents can provide them with a safe, quiet room away from noise and activities where they can access fresh water.

Pet parents can take their dogs to that quiet place for regular breaks during the celebrations. Dogs can also stay in this room throughout the festivities and receive their meals and calming dog treats there. 

Separation anxiety triggers stress colitis in some dogs; this medical condition can be treated through behavior modification, positive reinforcement, and even medication. Dogs parents can give their pets treat puzzles and other interactive toys whenever they have to leave them alone. These games distract their dogs, who learn to associate their parents' absence with something enjoyable.

Pet parents can prepare their dogs to travel to a new location by knowing their host's expectations ahead of time. They can also get their dogs used to being in their carrier by including blankets, toys, and other items that remind them of home.

Pet parents can also reduce their dog's stress by:

  • Using pheromone sprays around their home 

  • Telling guests not to pet their dog 

  • Exercising their dog before stressful events

Reducing a dog's stress after a diagnosis of stress colitis won't stop their symptoms immediately. However, minimizing their stress can keep colitis from recurring or becoming worse.

Remedies for Stress-Induced Diarrhea in Dogs

Treatment for stress colitis in dogs requires a multifaceted approach. Proper treatment involves a bland diet, a probiotic supplement, and medications. 

Vets often recommend supplements like Fortiflora, Proviable, or Doggystat to reduce the symptoms of a dog's diarrhea. Veterinarians usually prescribe anti-inflammatories to smooth a dog's colon if they have stress colitis. Some dogs may also have diarrhea caused by an infection, so their vets may prescribe antibiotics to help eliminate pathogenic bacteria.

Pet parents will enhance their results from dog stress diarrhea remedies by combining healthy food with relaxation strategies, such as play, exercise, massages, and pheromone sprays. Some dogs are generally more anxious than others and will benefit if a pheromone diffuser is used in their home regularly.

Prepare Your Dog for Holiday Stress

Pet parents can use several strategies to relax their dogs during holiday gatherings. Preparation will reduce or eliminate the fear and discomfort that could produce stress colitis in dogs.

Veterinarians can discuss treatment plans that alleviate the symptoms of stress colitis. Sign up for Fuzzy today to talk to a veterinarian about strategies for helping dogs to relax during the holidays.

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