Panic Attacks In Dogs: Symptoms, Causes, & Treatments

(Picture Credit: Capuski/Getty Images)

Panic attacks in dogs can take place when a dog feels fearful or anticipates that something negative is about to happen. They can take a similar form to human panic attacks and involve an elevated heart rate, trembling or shaking, and heavier breathing.

These episodes can build up and lead to other health problems in dogs, and they can also result from an underlying medical condition.

If you see signs that your dog might be suffering from excessive fear, anxiety, or panic, then you must consult your veterinarian for a proper diagnosis and course of treatment. Here’s what you should know about the symptoms, causes, and treatments of panic attacks in dogs.

Symptoms Of Panic Attacks In Dogs

Panic attacks in dogs can result in a number of symptoms that often resemble those that humans experience. Some of the most common symptoms include:

  • Increased heart rate
  • Heavier breathing
  • Panting
  • salivating
  • Shaking and trembling
  • sweater
  • Urinating (especially indoors)
  • hiding
  • Chewing or licking fur and skin
  • voting
  • pacing

Causes Of Panic Attacks In Dogs

Worried dog face, nervous dog in car, scared dog in backseat of car.  Conceptual image for anxiety, worry, and nervous traveler.  Purebred dog is a Cavapoo, small dog breed poodle mix.  Dog in back seat of care, anxiously waiting to be taken to the vet.

(Picture Credit: Jena Ardell/Getty Images)

The cause of panic attacks in dogs is usually related to a form of anxiety. The main forms of anxiety that can result in panic attacks include:

  • Travel anxiety (such as being in a car)
  • Noise anxiety (including fireworks, emergency service sirens, and extreme weather)
  • Confinement anxiety (like being locked in a room)
  • Separation anxiety (including being left alone or a big life change)

Veterinary Treatments

If you suspect that your dog is suffering from panic attacks, your veterinarian will want to carry out a full physical examination and also ask about the circumstances that seem to trigger the episodes. Blood and urine tests can help rule out any underlying medical conditions.

You should show your vet documentation of your dog’s attacks, including a log of dates and times or even a video of an attack. This can help your vet figure out how to effectively treat the issue.

When it comes to treatment, there are a number of options that vets may attempt. In some cases, increasing your dog’s mental and physical exercise routines can help lessen the chances of an episode.

The vet may also suggest the use of a dog behaviorist. Additionally, providing your canine with their own safe room, or even a crate, where they can feel calm and relaxed has proven to help in some cases.

Some dogs benefit from the use of medication. Commonly prescribed medicines include fluoxetine, buspirone, and alprazolam. As ever, if your vet prescribes medicine for your dog, it is vital that you stick to the precise dosage and frequency instructions.

Has your dog ever suffered from panic attacks? How do you keep your dog calm and reduce their anxiety? Tell us all about it in the comments below.