Excessive barking could signify underlying health issues in dogs, like pain, discomfort, or anxiety disorders. It could also indicate senility in older dogs or a symptom of specific diseases like hypothyroidism. Thus, it’s important to consult a vet if you notice a sudden increase in your dog’s barking behavior.
Sings to Consult a Vet about Excessive Barking
Change in Barking Pattern
If your dog suddenly starts barking excessively without any apparent reason or change in environment, this could indicate a health issue. For example, a usually quiet dog that starts barking incessantly might be trying to communicate discomfort or distress.
Physical Discomfort Signs
If your dog is excessively barking and showing signs of physical discomfort like limping, restlessness, loss of appetite, or changes in bathroom habits, it may be experiencing pain. For instance, a dog with a paw injury might bark more frequently due to the pain.
Unusual behavior changes accompanying excessive barking can also be a red flag. For instance, if your dog becomes unusually aggressive, fearful, or anxious with excessive barking, it might be due to an underlying mental health issue like anxiety or cognitive dysfunction syndrome in older dogs.
Change in Voice or Tone
If the sound of your dog’s bark changes—such as becoming more high-pitched or strained—it could indicate a medical problem. For example, a dog with a throat infection or a respiratory condition might exhibit a noticeable change in the sound of its bark.
Age-Related Excessive Barking
Older dogs may start barking excessively due to cognitive dysfunction (similar to Alzheimer’s in humans) or other age-related health conditions. For instance, a senior dog that starts barking more at night could be experiencing confusion or disorientation.
Barking During Specific Activities
If your dog starts barking excessively during or after specific activities such as eating, drinking, or exercising, it might be due to discomfort associated with these activities. For example, a dog with dental pain might bark more during or after meal times.
Unresponsive to Training or Distractions
If your dog’s excessive barking continues despite using typical training techniques or distractions and it seems unusually fixated or obsessed, it could be a sign of a compulsive behavior disorder or other underlying health issues. For example, a dog that continues to bark excessively even when presented with its favorite toy or treat may need veterinary attention.
What Diseases are Linked with Excessive Barking?
Hypothyroidism: This is a hormonal disorder common in dogs where the thyroid doesn’t produce enough thyroid hormone. It can lead to a variety of behavioral changes, including increased barking.
Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome: Similar to Alzheimer’s in humans, this age-related condition can cause disorientation, confusion, and behavioral changes in dogs, leading to increased vocalization, including barking.
Anxiety Disorders: Like humans, dogs can suffer from anxiety disorders that trigger excessive barking. Separation anxiety is a common example where dogs bark incessantly when left alone.
Pain or Discomfort: Any condition that leads to physical discomfort, such as arthritis, dental disease, or an injury, could cause your dog to bark more as an expression of distress.
Canine Cognitive Dysfunction (CCD): In older dogs, CCD, akin to dementia in humans, can cause disorientation, memory loss, and changes in behavior, which may manifest as excessive barking, especially during the night.
Deafness or Hearing Loss: Dogs with hearing impairment might bark more due to a change in their sensory perception. It’s their way of compensating for hearing loss, and they may become more reactive to visual stimuli.
Are Barking-Related Disorders Treatable?
Many barking-related disorders are treatable, but the approach will largely depend on the underlying cause. For example, hypothyroidism can be managed with hormone replacement therapy, while behavioral issues like anxiety can often be addressed with a combination of training, environmental modifications, and sometimes medication.
Pain or discomfort can typically be treated or managed once the underlying issue is identified. Cognitive dysfunction might be managed through medications, diet, and lifestyle changes. In any case, an individualized treatment plan should be created in consultation with a veterinarian.