What is a Dog Panic Attack? Signs and ways to help

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A dog panic attack is a natural response to an overwhelming stimulus that causes dogs to experience extreme fear. Symptoms include shaking, drooling, panting, and hiding.

In this blog post, we’ll discuss what dog panic attacks are, how they can be treated, and ways you can help your furry friend if he or she is suffering from a dog panic attack.

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Can Dogs Have Panic Attacks?

Are you worried your dog is having panic attacks? It is completely natural to be worried when they show symptoms of dog anxiety.

scared dog panicking

Yes, dogs can have panic attacks. These dog anxiety symptoms are completely natural, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t help your dog get better.

A dog panic attack is no different than a human having one; it is just more difficult to understand since humans cannot talk to dogs like they would with other people.

What Are the Signs of a Dog Having a Panic Attack?

If your furry best friend is experiencing a dog panic attack, here are the signs to look for:

  • Shaking or trembling
  • Hyperventilation and panting
  • Drooling from the mouth
  • Running away
  • Hiding in a small space, like under the couch
  • Restlessness and inability to settle down
  • Whining and pacing around
  • Clinging to their owner for security

Dog anxiety symptoms of panic attacks may include these signs as well as others that are specific to your dog’s needs and personality traits. Dogs who suffer from dog anxiety may also have other symptoms that are not related to dog panic attacks. We have a detailed article about how to recognize dog anxiety that you can check out here.

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What Causes Panic Attacks in Dogs?

There can be many causes of panic attacks in dogs. Some of the more common ones include:

  • Reaction to loud noises such as fireworks, thunderstorms, and gunshots
  • Response to a painful or frightening experience, even if it happened years ago
  • Emotional stress from being left alone for long periods of time or rehomed multiple times
  • Fear associated with a dog park, dog boarding, or other places where dogs gather
  • Abuse or other major trauma
dog running away

A dog panic attack can be scary and even dangerous if your pet takes off running at full speed. Make sure you are aware of what triggers cause a panic attack so you can avoid them.

How Long Can a Dog Panic Attack Last?

If your dog suddenly suffers a panic attack, the symptoms can come on very quickly and last for a few moments or even hours.

If your dog has suffered from panic attacks before, he may know how to help himself by retreating into his safe zone such as under the bed or in a dog crate.

The length of time that this lasts will depend on what caused the dog’s anxiety to flare up.

Can Dogs Have Panic Attacks at Night?

Do dogs have panic attacks in their sleep? Dogs can definitely have panic attacks while they are sleeping. This is similar to humans who wake up from a nightmare or dream without warning and feel extremely frightened.

dog having a dog panic attack

Don’t be surprised if your dog begins pacing, panting, drooling excessively, or acting nervous when he wakes up after suffering an anxiety attack during sleep.

If this happens frequently you may want to make sure your dog is sleeping in an environment that will keep him safe such as a dog crate.

What Do I Do If My Dog is Having a Panic Attack?

If you feel helpless when your dog is having a panic attack, you are not alone. Many dog owners feel this way when their dog suddenly becomes anxious and upset for no apparent reason.

Your furry friend’s safety is the most important thing to consider during a dog panic attack. If your dog begins running around full speed or moving quickly in any direction, it may be hard for you to get out of their way. Try to take hold of your dog so he doesn’t run into furniture, walls, or other obstacles that could cause injury.

Your dog might also try to snap at you if he is extremely frightened and feels threatened by something nearby.

dog snapping

If this happens, do not attempt to put him in a dog crate or any place where he can feel trapped. This will make him even more upset and agitated than before the panic attack began.

Instead, try to remain calm so your dog knows you are not part of what is upsetting him. He may also be able to pick up on your nervousness and become more anxious, which will cause the cycle to continue.

Ways to Prevent Your Dog from Having a Panic Attack

There are techniques you can try to prevent your furry friend from having a dog panic attack:

  • Provide an enclosed dog bed or crate, especially if the dog is left alone
  • Make sure they are not crated near loud noises such as a TV or radio
  • Play calming music
  • Try to keep your dog’s routine as consistent as possible, including their feeding schedule and exercise regimen.
  • When it is time for a bath or nail trimmings make sure you have plenty of treats on hand. Dogs may experience more stress during these activities if they are not used to them or do not understand why they are being done.
  • If you know or suspect there will be changes in your dog’s life, make sure you take the time to slowly prepare them beforehand. This includes any changes in your dog’s routine, moving to a new home or even just dog daycare.
  • Keep walks short and fun! When dogs are on leash they can feel trapped if they get scared by another dog or person.
panicking dog on a lead
  • Introduce new people slowly with treats that your dog loves!
  • If dog daycare or other dog socialization is not an option, try to come up with a fun activity that your dog loves and do it regularly. This will help them build confidence so they are better prepared if they ever need to be around other dogs again.
  • Make sure your dog is regularly checked by a veterinarian for any health issues that may be contributing to the dog panic attacks.

TIP: Have you tried a Thundershirt for a rapid way to calm your dog down?

Beagle wearing a thundershirt

For more information about Thundershirts and how they can help your dog, check out our detailed article here.

Conclusion

In conclusion, dog panic attacks don’t have to be a dog owner’s worst nightmare.

dog panic attack scared dog

If you are aware of your dog’s triggers and symptoms, then there is a lot that can be done to help them through an attack!

Just remember to remain calm and patient with your dog as these types of issues often take time to resolve.

We hope this article was helpful to you. Check out these related articles on dog anxiety and how to manage and treat it.

Thundershirts for Dogs – Do They Really Work

Separation Anxiety in Dogs, causes and solutions

How to Crate Train A Dog with Anxiety

Dog Anxiety Disorder – 15 signs to recognize

Anxiety in Dogs – The Ultimate Guide

Car Anxiety – How to Fix It

15 Natural Calming Remedies For Dogs

Anise for Dogs – Is it Dognip?

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Disclaimer

All information in this article is for educational purposes only and is not meant to replace your veterinarian’s advice

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