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Obsessive Compulsive Disorder in Dogs: Symptoms, Diagnoses and Treatment

What is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder in Dogs?

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) in dogs is also referred to as Canine Compulsive Disorder (CDD). The disorder is identified by behaviors that are considered normal but when done so in an excessive, repetitive way can interfere with your dog’s ability to function and quality of life. 

An example of normal dog behaviors that can become obsessive compulsive in some dogs include excessive licking, pacing, chasing their tail, unprompted barking, and excessive drinking of water. While these are behaviors that most dogs take part in, the concern comes when these behaviors become excessive and their lack of control over them. It has been observed that dogs do indeed perceive and experience concern, making these obsessive compulsions viable for dogs to experience just as some humans do. 

What Causes Obsessive Compulsive Disorder in Dogs?

Research on OCD or CCD is still rather new. One possible cause looks into the genetic link to the disorder. It’s possible for any breed of dog to develop OCD, however, there are some breeds more prone to compulsive behaviors. Doberman Pinschers, German Shepherds, and Bull Terriers have been identified as more likely to develop OCD due to genetics. 

Dogs with OCD also likely have altered serotonin transmission. Essentially, the brain cells and nervous system cells don’t effectively communicate with each other. 

Additionally, some professionals believe that in some dogs, compulsive behaviors are a result of lack of physical and mental stimulation, anxiety, frustration, and receiving insufficient attention. 

Who’s At Risk of Developing OCD?

It’s possible for any breed of dog to develop OCD, however, there are some breeds more prone to compulsive behaviors. Doberman Pinschers, German Shepherds, and Bull Terriers have been identified as more likely to develop OCD due to genetics. 

What are the Symptoms of OCD in Dogs?

A dog with OCD or CCD participates in behaviors that are considered normal, but performed in an obsessive and extensive manner including: 

  • Sucking on a toy or their flank 
  • Excessive licking (acral lick dermatitis) 
  • Excessive biting at their fur 
  • Pacing or spinning 
  • Chasing their tail 
  • Snapping at invisible items 
  • Unprompted barking or vocalizing
  • Excessive water 
  • Eating dirt or other non-food substances
  • Hallucinating/staring 

How is OCD in Dogs Diagnosed?

OCD can be very difficult to diagnose in dogs. You will need to consult a veterinarian to receive a proper diagnosis of OCD in your dog. The vet will initially rule out any underlying medical causes behind your dog’s behaviors. Prior to visiting the vet, capture videos of the behaviors, a log of the behaviors, and when they began to occur. This will help your veterinarian to have as much information available in order to make a proper diagnosis. 

What is the Treatment for OCD in Dogs?

Treatment typically includes a combination of medication and behavior modification. Medications that affect the absorption of serotonin can help to reduce some behaviors. Accompanying medication with teaching new behaviors that can redirect the unwanted compulsive behaviors can be very successful. 

Consulting with an animal behaviorist can be beneficial in the behavior modification piece. They will be able to help you understand how to understand and redirect to teach new behaviors. 

Your dog’s environment can also make a difference in many circumstances. A predictable routine in place can help to reduce their anxiety while increased physical and mental stimulation can provide needed relief. 

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Prozac for Dogs

Just like humans, dogs can suffer from anxiety-related disorders. There are various medications and training that your vet may recommend depending upon your dog’s situation. One of these medications is Prozac, generically known as Fluoxetine. The medication functions in dogs similar to that in humans. 

What is Prozac?

Prozac, or generically known as Fluoxetine, is an SSRI antidepressant used to treat various behavioral disorders in dogs. SSRI stands for serotonin reuptake inhibitor and is most commonly used to treat anxiety-related disorders. This form of Prozac is approved for dogs by the FDA and is labeled to treat separation anxiety. 

How Does Prozac Work in Dogs?

Prozac is essentially a psychotropic medication that changes your dog’s brain action by manipulating its neurotransmitters in a particular way. As an SSRI, the medication delays the body’s reuptake of serotonin, the neurotransmitter that is believed to stabilize mood, which results in serotonin persisting longer when released. 

Prozac typically produces improvement in dogs around the four-week mark. However, the improvement may not be enough and your vet may suggest another medication in place of Prozac. Dosage is dependent on your dog’s size, age, and disorder. Your veterinarian will provide you with proper instructions specific to your dog. 

What Does Prozac Treat in Dogs?

Prozac is used to treat a variety of anxiety-related disorders in dogs, including: 

  • Separation anxiety 
  • Aggression
  • Thunderstorm phobia 
  • Generalized anxiety
  • Compulsive disorders
  • Destructive behavior

How is Prozac Administered in Dogs?

Prozac or Fluoxetine is administered to dogs in the form of a tablet, capsule, or liquid. It can typically be given with or without food. Your vet will provide full instructions on proper dosage and administration. It’s important that if administered in liquid form to measure very carefully. 

What Are the Side Effects of Prozac in Dogs?

There are a number of side effects of Prozac in dogs. The most common side effects observed are: 

  • Lethargy
  • Decreased appetite 
  • Vomiting and diarrhea 
  • Trembling  
  • Restlessness 
  • Panting
  • Incoordination 
  • Weight loss 

More severe side effects that may indicate an overdose include: 

  • Seizures 
  • Aggression 
  • Excessive vomiting 

 

Just like any medication, follow your veterinarian’s instructions carefully and notify them of any issues or negative side effects.

Who Should Not Be Prescribed Prozac?

Dogs with certain pre-existing conditions should not be administered Prozac. It should not be used in dogs with a history or seizures or that are already on medications to lower the seizure threshold. Some dogs may be allergic to Prozac and should not be prescribed the medication. If your dog is taking MAOIs or NSAIDs, Prozac should not be given. 

Additionally, the medication should be used cautiously in dogs with diabetes mellitus, liver disease, are under the age of 6 months old, or are pregnant. It’s critical to disclose your dog’s full medical history and medications to your veterinarian so they can properly treat the condition.

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Can You Give Your Dog Benadryl?

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    Benadryl is a home remedy that can be safe and effective in treating several ailments in dogs but you may have asked yourself you can give your dog Benadryl and if so, how much? Remember to always contact your veterinarian before administering any new medication to your dog. Read below to learn more about how Benadryl may be beneficial for your dog. 

    hand giving a corgi a red and white pill

    What is Benadryl? 

    Benadryl, generic name diphenhydramine, is an antihistamine that is used to relieve symptoms of allergies, rashes, and the common cold but does not treat underlying conditions. The medication comes in different forms including oral (tablets, chewable tablets, etc.) and topical cream spray, and gel. 

    How Does Benadryl Work? 

    Since Benadryl is an antihistamine, it counteracts histamine which is what the body produces during an allergic reaction. H-1 receptors, which are found on tiny blood arteries and smooth muscles, are blocked by Benadryl. When histamine binds to these receptors, it causes the blood vessels around the airways to enlarge, producing irritation and itching, as well as the muscles around the airways to constrict, making breathing difficult. The medication possesses drying effects on symptoms including watery eye, runny nose, sneezing, and itching. 

    Benadryl’s anti-motion sickness effect is achieved by inhibiting signals to the brain’s vomiting region. This only pertains to dogs and not humans.

    benadryl allergy medication 100 count

    What Are the Side Effects of Benadryl in Dogs?

    There are several side effects to be aware of when administering Benadryl to your dog. The most common side effects observed in dogs are: 

    • Lethargy 
    • Dry mouth/increased thirst 
    • Urinary retention 
    • Vomiting 
    • Diarrhea  
    • Lack of appetite 

    What Are the Signs of a Benadryl Overdose in Dogs?

    While there are side effects associated with Benadryl that may be commonly observed, it’s important to be knowledgeable of what the signs of a Benadryl overdose may look like. If your dog is experiencing any of the below, consult a veterinarian immediately. 

    • Abnormal heart rate or blood pressure
    • Excessive salivation
    • Seizures 
    • Tremors 
    • Trouble breathing 
    • Agitation or aggression 
    • Fever

    What is Benadryl Used to Treat in Dogs? 

    Allergies

    french bulldog puppy itching

    Benadryl for dogs is often used to treat itchiness that is caused by skin allergies. However, it may also be used to alleviate symptoms caused by other allergies including hives, environmental allergies, reactions to bee stings and vaccines, and other types of inflammation. Benadryl is effective in treating mild to moderate reactions. However, more serious reactions should be seen by a vet. 

    Short-term Anxiety

    The sedative effects in Benadryl may help dogs struggling with anxiety and phobias. However, it’s only a short term solution and should not be used in dogs that need anxiety medication on a regular, long-term basis. 

    Motion Sickness

    Benadryl for dogs is often used to relieve the symptoms of motion sickness. It’s especially effective if your dog needs to be transported a longer distance. The same receptors in your dog’s body that bind to histamines are associated with motion sickness, which is why Benadryl helps to reduce nausea during travel. In addition to this, the drowsiness caused by Benadryl may help to keep your dog calm during their trip. 

    When Should You Avoid Using Benadryl? 

    Benadryl should not be administered to dogs with certain existing medical conditions. In addition, inform your vet of any other medications that your dog is currently taking, as Benadryl may counteract with others. Dogs with the below medical conditions should not be administered Benadryl, including: 

    • Low blood pressure 
    • Cardiac conditions (including cardiovascular disease) 
    • Glaucoma 
    • Allergic to antihistamines 
    • Currently pregnant 
    • Neonatal dogs
    • Prostate enlargement 
    • Bladder or intestinal obstruction 

    What Is the Dosage For Benadryl For Dogs?

    According to the Merck Veterinary Manual, the safe dosage is 2-4 milligrams of Benadrylper kilogram of weight, or 0.9 to 1.8 milligrams per pound. This dosage can typically be administered two to three times daily. However, Benadryl dosage can best be determined by your veterinarian. 

    Be sure that the benadryl tablets contain only diphenhydramine and no alcohol. Do not administer time-release medication, as it can break down in the stomach at a faster rate than in humans and can lead to an overdose. In addition, speak to your vet before administering liquid Benadryl, as the liquid version is not absorbed the same as a tablet. 

    Remember to contact your veterinarian before administering a new medication, including over the counter medication. You can find a new vet through our specialist directory.

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    Is My Dog Emotionally Distressed?

    dog sitting in a living room surrounded by pillow fluff that they tore up from being emotionally distressed
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      Just like humans, dogs are just as capable of experiencing complex emotions and stress. A variety of lifestyle changes can lead to a dog’s emotional distress. It’s important to understand these signs so you are able to intervene and help to navigate your dog’s emotional distress as best as possible. Read below for signs of emotional distress in dogs: 

      1. Behavioral Changes

      dog sitting in a living room surrounded by pillow fluff that they tore up from being emotionally distressed

      There are a variety of behavior changes that may indicate your dog is experiencing emotional distress. Some dogs may show more signs of aggression that have not been previously displayed. Others may start participating in destructive behaviors including urinating and defecating in the house or chewing on furniture and other items. Another behavioral change to keep an eye out for is a decreased desire to play, go for walks, or engage in physical activity. In some cases, this may be a plea for attention, especially if a big life change just occurred such as a move, a new baby, loss in the family, etc. However, you may want to consult a veterinarian to eliminate any medical problems, especially if the issues cannot be attributed to any major life changes. 

      2. Changes in Eating Habits

      yellow lab holding a dog bowl

      Eating habits and changes associated are key to understanding your dog’s emotions. One of the major signs of anxiety and depression in dogs is a decreased appetite. A dog acting more hungry than usual or increased begging may be a sign of boredom, attention-seeking, or an emotional disorder. If health issues can be ruled out by your vet, be sure to give your dog extra attention and care to ensure they’re happy and enriched. 

      3. Changes in Sleep Patterns

      pug sleeping on the ground with tongue sticking out

      If your dog’s time spent sleeping has increased, they may be feeling bored, depressed/emotionally distressed. The average adult dog spends 12-14 hours a day sleeping, but take note of your dog’s usual sleep schedule as this varies on an individual basis. If your dog’s suddenly sleeping the entire day or acting restless, they may be missing you or feeling down due to a life change. 

      4. Body Language

      chihuahua sitting and showing signs of being emotionally distressed

      Your dog’s body language is a critical indicator of how they’re feeling. Signs of a stressed or upset dog include flattened ears, a tucked tail, a low bent neck, and downcast eyes. Shaking, hiding, pacing, and panting can also indicate that your dog is scared, anxious, or emotionally distressed. 

      5. Excessive Shedding

      pile of gray dog fur on the ground with a red grooming brush next to it

      Dogs often shed when put in stressful and anxiety-inducing situations such as the vet, car rides, and new places. This is because when your dog is stressed the primary stress hormone, epinephrine, which is basically adrenaline, is released. This stress response leads to the shedding of the hair. 

      6. Excessive Licking

      dog licking it's lips

      Licking is a natural behavior of dogs to a certain point. However, some dogs who suffer from stress or depression will excessively lick causing bald spots, sores, and even digestive problems. The act of licking increases endorphins in the dog’s brain which calms them while licking. Consult your vet to rule out any medical conditions as excessive licking may also be a sign of allergies or gastrointestinal issues. 

      7. Whining or Barking

      husky dog howling

      Whining or barking is a dog’s primary form of communication. This may increase when dogs are under emotional distress. If your dog is whining or barking while experiencing emotional distress, they may be attempting to get your attention or self-soothe. For some dogs, this barking/whining is an automatic response in a stressful environment. 

      8. Pacing or Shaking

      beagle outside shaking off water

      Many dogs may pace or shake when agitated or stressed because they simply can’t settle down. However, pacing can be a sign of dementia in senior dogs while shaking can be a sign of neurological issues. Pacing and shaking should be observed closely and discussed with your vet. 

      Dogs are able to communicate with us in a variety of ways. It’s important to familiarize yourself with your dog’s normal behaviors so you’re able to observe when they may be distressed. Keep these signs in mind when it comes to your dog’s emotional distress. If you think your dog may be experiencing emotional distress, consider contacting a behavior specialist from our specialist directory. 

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      Best 10 Anxiety Relief Products for Dogs You Need to Try

      More than 70% of dogs have anxiety issues of one kind or another according to a study done in Finland of 13,715 pet dogs of 264 different breeds. It can be heartbreaking seeing your dog in distress over events such as storms, fireworks, vet visits, car rides, and more. We’ve put together some of our favorite anxiety relief products for dogs to help both them and you.

      1. Calmeroos Puppy Heartbeat Toy Sleep Aid

      Price: $37.99

      Calmeroos are an excellent way to calm puppies by allowing them to recreate the experience of cuddling with their mom and littermates. Each Calmeroo has a pouch in it that contains both a heat pack and mechanical heartbeat to replicate their mother and helps them feel calm, happy, and at ease making them an effective anxiety relief product for dogs.

      Ches
      via Amazon
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      I bought this product just before picking up my new puppy from the breeder. I brought it with me and rubbed it on my puppy's mother to get her scent. The first night I put her in with the "faux mom", my puppy cried for about 5 minutes, then settled down. She slept the whole night without making a sound. She still sleeps with it every night, and I have not had a problem with her crying because she is lonely. I've had other puppies, and getting them use to sleeping alone at night was always a challenge. This is the best thing on the market. I would recommend it to anyone bringing home a new pet.

      2. Sport ThunderShirt for Dogs

      Price: Starting at $44.95

      The ThunderShirt SPORT is a sleek and effective way to alleviate anxiety, panic, and over-excitement. The breathable jacket is designed for comfort, with washable, durable fabric, contrasting trim, and reflective logos for safer evening walks. ThunderShirt offers the most advanced patented pressure wrap design on the market. ThunderShirt, like swaddling a child, is clinically shown to reduce anxiety, panic, and over-excitement.

      DogLover
      via Chewy
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      I have an 8 yr old English Foxhound who is very afraid of thunder. When she hears thunder (which I haven't heard yet), she sits in front of me and whines for her ThunderShirt to be put on and then she is instantly much calmer. Of course she still shivers a bit if there is thunder that cracks overhead, but it definitely helps her! ADVICE for people about to order!! Google measurement for Thundershirt and measure around the chest like you're strapping your dog into a seat belt. Saved me from accidentally getting a large.

      3. VETCBD 20:1 Formulation

      Price: Varies per Location

      VETCBD is the first CBD for pets and was created by a veterinarian. VetCBD is a tincture with small amounts of THC. This makes it more effective in providing relief from anxiety, pain, muscle spasms, nausea, and loss of appetite.

      Mastiffmom09
      via weedmaps
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      I have never commented on any products ever, but this one deserves it. My sweet 170# English Mastiff started having ocular seizures in 2017. He was put on phenobarbital which messed him up really bad and didn’t work. Then he was put on keppra which didn’t work either. I love my vet but they didn’t want to even entertain the idea of using CBD. After his last appointment she said he was having way to many seizures (I take notes about every seizure). I came home and a friend made me try it. Zeus has not had any seizures in 2 months. This is the only brand that I trust. I thank the producer from the bottom of my heart for helping me with my baby.

      4. Pet Acoustics Pet Tunes Calming Music Dog Speaker

      Price:$59.99

      With the Pet Acoustics Pet Tunes Calming Music Dog Speaker, you can help your pet tune into a tranquil, stress-free state of mind. This Bluetooth® speaker is pre-loaded with 90 minutes of music created by a sound behaviorist to help dogs cope with stress and anxiety. The doggy music is clinically proven and veterinarian-approved to assist decrease stress-related behaviors like excessive barking and pacing, which can occur when your pooch is home alone, during thunderstorms, when traveling, or when he is adjusting to new situations.

      Jenny
      via Chewy
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      My dog gets so anxious during storms that he trembles. I’ve tried a thunder coat, supplements, etc, nothing helped. This music does the trick. After a few minutes with it, he stops shaking, lays his head down, and relaxes. I LOVE this product.

      5. Best Friends by Sheri The Original Calming Shag Fur Donut Bed

      Price: $17.48

      With this Luxury Shag Donut Self-Heating pet bed, you can provide your beloved companion with the pleasant sleep t dheyeserves. The round shape provides a safe environment, while the bolstered edge provides additional orthopedic support and well as a paw-sitively purr-fect headrest. Warmth is radiated from your pet’s own body heat via the unique insulating layer. It’s machine washable and dryer friendly, and it’s made of a soft faux-shag material that will keep your pet warm, toasty, and comfortable.

      Jean
      via Chewy
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      As I write this review, my 20-lb cavalier/beagle rescue pup is in his BFS bed sleeping as soundly as I've seen in the two weeks that I've had him. This was a desperation purchase and I just wasn't totally sold on the advertised calming effect. The expensive Orvis bed with bolsters that I bought has been a big "meh" for my pup as has the LL Bean oval dog bed. Every time I'd get up from my desk, he'd get up and follow me. Every noise he heard would make him get up and bark. This BFS bed is a serious game changer. He's out like a light. 1 hour and counting!

      6. Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Supplements Calming Care

      Price: $49.99

      Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Supplements Calming Care contains a type of helpful bacteria that has been demonstrated to aid dogs in maintaining a calm temperament. Purina nutritionists, researchers, and veterinarians collaborated on the science behind these therapeutic products.

      Erica
      via Chewy
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      I adopted a senior dog who struggles with anxiety. His anxiety was so bad that he would break out of his crate and then if we left him out he would chew the door handles and scratch through the drywall. My vet recommended we try this as a more natural option opposed to medication. This has helped my guy a ton! He still has his personality but lost most of his anxious behavior. I can tell when i take him for walks he is more calm and not crazy after seeing or hearing any little thing. I recently ran out and forgot to order right away so we went a few days without it. What a difference, his walks have been rough since he now is all nervous with the sounds and sights again. I do have him on a low level medication for when we leave the house, but this daily powder has saved us! I was truly nervous my guy would hurt himself if i didn't find something quick. Life Saver!! After some research, I realized she might just be a nervous dog. I discovered this wonderful calming collar. So far it's working wonders! Lucy is now being calm, loving, quiet and even considerate to my sister's old dog.

      7. Best Friends by Sheri Luxury Shag Dog & Cat Throw Blanket

      Price: $23.92

      The Best Friends by Sheri Shag Blanket mimics a dog’s mother’s fur which can help relax them and aid in comfort and security while providing warmth. It can be used in their bed, create, the couch and it’s easy to travel within the car for road trips.

      Charlie S.
      via Amazon
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      I have 3 dogs. 2 older ones and a younger monkey butt just shy of 2 years old in full teenage rebellion phase with his crate time. He was diagnosed with underlying insecurity/situational anxiety + Impact of arousal. With that in mind, this blanket arrived today. After his dinner I put it in his crate. He gave me 1 whine. Settled. He's out. No rebellion. I'm eating. Does't matter (always does). Will update this review if this initial lack of drama is a fluke but right now it's a dream come true. At first he chomped on the fur but after a worded correction he stopped. When I approached to take the pic that got his attention. I opened the kennel dog. He went to get a drink. Went straight back to crate. 5 stars on account of chilling out lil monkey butt

      8. Solliquin Behavior Supplement for Dogs

      Price: $32.83

      These chewable pills assist to maintain healthy behavior by including a unique combination of l-theanine, floral extracts, and whey protein. So, whether your pet is apprehensive about new people, fearful of car rides, or startled by loud noises, these daily chews can help them calm and sleep during stressful circumstances. Solliquin is part of a complete treatment strategy, and when paired with training and patience, it may help avoid anxiety-related behavioral issues such as excessive barking, panting, and over-grooming.

      Alyssa
      via Chewy
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      Honestly these work pretty well, and they do what they're supposed to. I feel like people have really high expectations for calming vitamins. They're not sedatives, and you shouldn't want your dog to be sedated in the first place. Obviously this doesn't make my dog's anxiety disappear, but it definitely makes him less triggered by things that would normally upset him. He has pretty horrible anxiety and went through a phase where he cried/barked/howled the entire night... like the ENTIRE night for 6 months. Since then/for the past 2 years his anxiety comes in waves and is completely unpredictable. I've used Solliquin with him for the past 5 months and it has helped regulate his anxiety. He is less on edge and can actually function much better. I am super grateful for it and I think that it can be a great supplement to use alongside training!

      9. Zesty Paws Core Elements Calming Supplement

      Price: $29.97

      Zesty Paws Calming Bites are excellent chewables that may aid dogs suffering from normal tension, anxiousness, and hyperactivity in remaining calm and at peace! Suntheanine, an improved version of L-Theanine, and Sensoril Ashwagandha are included in this functional dog supplement. These innovative compounds work together to promote your canine pet’s relaxation, tranquillity, attention, and clarity. Additionally, Chamomile, Valerian Root, and L-Tryptophan are included in these soft chews to help soothe and relax your pet.

      nursedoolittle
      via Chewy
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      I tried these in the past and couldn't really tell if they worked. I ordered them for a foster dog I had coming up who the shelter said had crate anxiety. He destroyed 2 regular non heavy duty crates traveling to vet for heart worm treatment. Gave treats to him 30ish min before leaving for work for several days, watched him on pup cam as I drove to work, he whimpered a bit for a few min but then was fine. Ok let's go to Wednesday, I'm off and another rescue volinteer/foster needs food, so I took food over to her house about 30 min away. Didn't even think to give him these treats because I was just quick running out. Watched him on pup cam and he screamed, whaled, and howled the ENTIRE hour I was gone! No doubt he'd have busted out if not in lions crate!!! So yup these treats work because he didn't act like that the times I left after giving him the treats!!! It's not his crate causing anxiety because he'll go in on his own to chew bones or hang out. He has severe separation anxiety!

      10. Hyper Pet IQ Treat Mat Dog Lick Mat

      Price: $7.95

      The Hyper Pet IQ Treat Mat is a dog slow feeder lick mat that increases relaxation while they enjoy their favorite snack from the textured surface, relieving anxiety and boredom in your dog. It can be used during thunderstorms, fireworks, bathtime, nail trimming, vet visits, and more. Choose your dog’s favorite treat to smooth over the surface. For an even longer-lasting treat, freeze it beforehand.

      69469269069
      via Chewy
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      A nice mid day treat. I have a reactive dog and two other anxious dogs and this was the perfect mid day treat that kept them occupied for 20 or so minutes. I put peanut butter, chicken, and blueberries and froze it so it would take longer. It’s not bad to clean, just keep that old toothbrush by the sink and use it to scrub it all out. 10/10 recommend and I already sent to all my friends.
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      With In-Person Work Returning, Nearly Two-thirds of Pet Owners Worry About Their Pet’s Stress Levels, Harris Poll Finds