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How the Brains of Anxious Dogs Differ From Others

When your dog reacts to sudden loud noises, such as fireworks and thunderstorms, or changes in his routine that leave him acting fearful and anxious, could it all be in his head? This surprising new research reveals how the brains of dogs with anxiety may be wired differently.

anxious dogs brains


  • New research using functional MRI technology reveals that the brains of dogs with anxiety are wired differently than those of non-anxious dogs; specifically, they show stronger connections between the amygdala and other regions of the “anxiety network”
  • The study analyzed dogs with diagnosed anxiety and non-anxious dogs in a resting state, and found that the brains of dogs who showed fear and anxiety towards strangers, as well as excitability, were more likely to show abnormal network metrics in the amygdala
  • Anxious dogs suffer from a level of stress that left unchecked can negatively affect their health and lifespan
  • There are several common canine stress triggers, including sudden loud noises, punishment-based training methods and lack of opportunities to express normal species- and breed-specific behaviors
  • One way to ease your dog’s anxiety is to make sure he’s getting lots of exercise — both mental and physical — daily

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