How to see your dog through a panic attack

Published 7:04 pm Tuesday, September 3, 2019


K9 Coner

Everyone should learn something new each day, according to what I read on how to be your healthiest physically, mentally and emotionally. So, this past week I learned something new and continue adding to my education.

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You see, at 9:05 p.m. this past Wednesday, I was stretched out on the bed reading The Advocate-Messenger when my little dog crept up to my shoulder and tried to crawl under my pillow. Now, he has shown anxiety before, but he has also shown bravery in situations that alarm me, like aggressively barking at about seven black vultures perched on my porch roof staring at him. I quickly ordered him to come inside — he is only 12 pounds, a perfect meal for black vultures.

So, what upset him this time? I lowered the newspaper and was faced with a swooping bat that was coming way too close for comfort. So I started waving the newspaper back and forth in front of me — and the dog — and the bat swooped down a couple more times and disliked the motion and noise of the paper, so it vanished.

I waited several minutes without moving. No sign of the bat, so I got up and tried to get the dog up, but he was shaking — frozen in place. Finally I talked him into moving and to make a long story short, he took a quick duty walk and came upstairs with me to the study, where he crawled under the desk and shook for two hours while I worked.

Thursday, I called the veterinarian to see if I did the right thing, or if I should have done something additional. Seems the dog was having a panic attack — didn’t know dogs did that, and I did everything correctly by being calm, talking softly and ignoring him while he trembled under the desk.

Now, I am sitting at the computer checking the internet to find out more about panic attacks in canines. It seems that dogs can have a panic attack if they are overly anxious or scared. Well, I guess having a little black thing swooping around could make a little dog fearful. Actually, the critter raised my blood pressure too when it followed the dog up to my pillow.

According to , there are a range of physical symptoms and it depends on the individual dog. Panting and rapid heart beat are the most common signs, but trembling and shaking are also fairly common.

Behavioral signs are also important. The flattened ears and tucked tail show fear, but also seeking comfort and safety (which my dog did) or lashing out with growls, or even biting (the fight or flight syndrome), are signs of a panic attack. He needs your help to eliminate the source of his anxiety.

Remember that if your dog seems panicky, stay calm, talk softly using words he knows and act like everything is normal. Don’t offer him treats or try to touch him, use your voice to calm him and praise when he responds.