When Good Stress becomes Bad Stress
Stress is an inevitable – and necessary – part of life for all mammals, including dogs. However, there are two types of stress: good stress (eustress) and bad stress. Although eustress is beneficial, too much good stress can become bad, potentially leading to health problems. Here, everything a pet owner needs to know about preventing good stress from becoming bad stress will be discussed.
What is Good Stress?
At the physiological level, stress is necessary for growth. A common example is physical training. For instance, if your dog is an athlete, his or her body must be stressed on a routine basis in order to build adaptations, such as improved strength. This stress triggers the immune system to build stronger muscle fibers and cardiovascular health.
When Does Good Stress become Bad Stress?
Even though a dog benefits from good stress, the truth is that too much of a good thing can be bad. For instance, if a dog is continually exercised every day without enough rest, the effects from stress become negative instead of positive.
Similarly, dog owners must remember that mentally stimulating activities, such as trips to the pet store or time spent around many new people or animals, are best performed in small doses. Even though these activities are enjoyable for most dogs, they still induce a high level of stress because the physiological reaction to fun activities is largely the same as the reaction to scary activities.
Additionally, a fun activity can become stressful if the dog is already suffering from underlying stress. For instance, a new home environment, a change in routine, a change in diet or sleep, pain, illness, and exposure to something new can all change the manner in which a dog reacts to eustress.
Signs of Bad Stress
If fun activities are suddenly scary to your dog, there is a good chance your dog is experiencing negative stress.
Signs that bad stress is affecting your dog include:
- Excessive lip licking
- Tucked tail
- Change in appetite
- Withdrawn behavior
- Uncharacteristic aggression
- Increased allergies
- Ear infections
- Change in skin or coat
- Change in sleep patterns
The main indication that your dog is experiencing negative stress is if he or she shows dramatic changes in behavior during activities that were once loved. For instance, if your dog is normally a social butterfly at the dog park but suddenly hides or tucks his or her tail around other dogs, this activity has likely become stressful. Similarly, if your dog has started showing aggression at daycare, it is time to reduce the number of days per week that he or she attends the facility.
How to Maintain the Balance of Good and Bad Stress
If you find an activity that your dog loves, it is crucial to enjoy this activity in moderation. Instead of exercising your dog hard every day, ensure there is ample recovery time in between sessions. If your dog loves to accompany you on car rides, only bring your dog along every 3rd or 4th ride.
If you find that your dog is currently in a downward spiral of stress, there are steps you can take to support your dog’s recovery. Limit activity and remove as many stressors as possible from your dog’s environment and focus on improving your dog’s ability to rest. For instance, if you live in a multi-dog household and your dogs are constantly playing, separate the two for a few days to allow your stressed pet a break.
How WINPRO® Can Help
If your dog is suffering from an overload of stress, WINPRO Focus can help your pet recover. Physical and mental stress can create a never-ending cycle of skin, digestive, and health problems, all which stem from the chronic response of the immune system. WINPRO Focus contains the proven K-Thrive Formula D blend of animal blood proteins that fight inflammation directly at the source. Additional active ingredients promote mental calmness and reduce anxiety, without inducing drowsiness. The combination of reduced inflammation and natural calmness are two key components of the healing process, helping your dog return to normal in no time.