Can stress make a dog sick? Find Out Here

History of Dogs Vomiting from Stress

Can stress make a dog sick?

Its safe to say dogs have been vomiting because of stress for as long as we can remember, although tracing the actual first case of this is close to impossible. Dogs vomit for a host of reasons, but its mainly to expel harmful substances, including toxins and foreign objects (hello, squeaky toy). Many dogs also vomit when they are stressed out, as the muscles tense and the body reacts to these feelings of discomfort.

You dont have to be an expert dog trainer to understand why a dog may vomit in a stressful situation. Just like humans, sometimes our body reacts in ways that are beyond our control, but that indicates something just isnt right. Experts note that there are numerous canine stressors that may lead to vomiting, from a visit to the vet, riding in the car, being left home alone, attending obedience training lessons, being around other dogs, meeting new people, moving to a new house, or even when they see their leash.

4 Surprising Signs of Stress in Dogs

Common signs of stress in dogs include pacing, panting, vocalizing, and seeking out their owner’s attention, says Dr. Wailani Sung, a certified veterinary behaviorist for the San Francisco SPCA. However, dogs may also show stress in unusual, surprising, or unexpected ways. “The dogs are exhibiting displacement behavior,” Sung explains. “They are stressed and need an outlet for their nervous energy, and it may manifest in unusual activity or behavior.”

Here’s why it’s so important to be aware of signs that your dog is stressed, according to Beaver. If your dog’s symptoms go unnoticed or unmanaged, stress can lead to negative side effects and other health problems. “Stress has physical, medical, and behavioral consequences in animals just as in people,” Beaver says. “The immune system does not work as well when the animal is chronically stressed, and that stress can be expressed outwardly as a behavior change, such as the development of an obsessive-compulsive disorder.”

Here are some other potential signs of stress in dogs you should watch out for:

When a dog is stressed out, the body releases a cascade of activity through the sympathetic nervous system and the HPA (hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal) axis—two key players in the stress response, Sung explains. Once the stress-response system is activated, the stomach may take too long to empty. This delay may cause a loss of appetite and other gastrointestinal symptoms in dogs. “If [food] sits in the stomach for too long, it may cause an upset stomach and the dog may respond by vomiting,” Sung says. If your dog is vomiting, it’s best to contact your veterinarian. Depending on the circumstances, your veterinarian may suggest letting the stomach rest for a few hours and then sticking to a bland diet. If your dog continues to vomit and won’t eat, or if your veterinarian feels there may be something more serious going on, you’ll need to schedule a visit to the clinic for an in-person exam.

According to Sung, stress can also accelerate the rate at which food moves through the intestines, which can lead to diarrhea in dogs. As with vomiting, feeding a bland diet may be helpful for dogs with mild cases of diarrhea, if your veterinarian recommends it. However, diarrhea can have many other causes, ranging from parasitic infections to food-borne illness, so stress may not necessarily be to blame.

Call your veterinarian if your dog’s diarrhea lasts for more than 24 hours or if you notice blood or mucus in your dog’s stool. “If the problem is extreme, or doesn’t stop within a day or so, it is important to get veterinary help in order to rule out potentially serious health conditions,” Beaver says.

Stress may cause some dogs to engage in compulsive behaviors, such as destructive chewing or ingesting non-food items (see Pica in Dogs). “Some dogs show stress by…chewing on whatever item is nearby and potentially ingesting inedible objects, such as rocks,” Sung says. Other dogs may exhibit excessive scratching or licking. “In some cases, they may lick a particular part of their body raw,” Sung adds. Dogs exhibiting repetitive behaviors may have underlying medical issues, so it’s important to schedule an appointment with your veterinarian to figure out what’s going on with your pet.

At certain times of the year and especially among certain breeds, coping with excess dog hair is simply one of the challenges of being a pet parent. But if you notice an unexpected shift or increase in how much your dog sheds, those flying furballs could be telling you that your dog is stressed.

What’s more, that symptom points to an exciting new area of study in the field of gut health in pets. According to Beaver, while veterinarians don’t completely understand how stress affects the balance of bacteria in a dog’s gut, they do know that chronic stress changes the bacteria types. “That can result in food not being digested as well or the intestines not being able to absorb important nutrients,” she says. Stress and nutritional deficiencies can also have negative effects on your dog’s skin and fur, such as excessive shedding.

In addition, stress can cause acute inflammation in the intestines, decreased cellular immunity, and increased intestinal permeability, Sung says. These conditions make the gut more susceptible to toxins produced by bacteria. “This could lead to increased risks of infection in the gut,” she says. “The immediate outcome may be diarrhea. The long-term outcome may be chronic intestinal discomfort or inflammation and possibly infections.”

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Can stress make a dog sick?

10 SIGNS of STRESS in DOGS How to Help With Anxiety

Stress is a commonly used word that describes feelings of strain or pressure. The causes of stress are exceedingly varied. Perhaps you are stressed out by your job, you become nervous when meeting new people, or you get anxious when your daily routine is disrupted.

To reduce stress levels, you may seek comfort in several ways. Maybe you find solace in the company of a trusted friend. Perhaps you relieve stress when occupied by routine chores like cleaning the house. Or maybe you blow off some steam with physical exercise.

Our dogs can become stressed too. Since we know how stress makes us feel, we certainly want to help alleviate our pet’s stress as well. However, our dogs do not voice their feelings, slam down the phone, or have a tantrum, so how can we tell they are stressed? The signs of anxiety in dogs are often subtle. In fact, some stress-related behaviors mimic normal behaviors.