We live in a high-paced world with stressful jobs, technology providing information overload and lifestyles that never seem to slow down. Humans are well aware of the effects of stress and anxiety: nervous behavior, loss of sleep, appetite changes, headaches, depression and digestive problems to name a few. But do our pets also suffer from anxiety? Absolutely!
Dogs and cats experience anxiety very similar to human anxiety. As pet owners, we need to be tuned in and look for signals that our pets are struggling with stress due to physical, psychological or environmental difficulties.
Signs of Anxiety
Every pet displays anxiety in unique ways, but the first clue is some change in their behavior. Be watchful of their reaction to things that may be bothering them. Some possible outward signs are:
- Changes in appetite or weight
- Excessive vocalization or neediness
- Changes in elimination habits
- Excessive licking or chewing
- Excessive panting
- Depression or lethargy
- Destructiveness or disobedience
Possible Causes of Pet Anxiety
Identifying and eliminating the cause of the stress is the key to relieving your pet’s anxiety. It can be tough to do, since they can’t easily communicate what’s bothering them. Start by evaluating their daily lives. Could some of these possible causes be the trigger?
- Separation from family
- Lack of exercise / play
- Fear of noises / people / other animals
- Poor nutrition
- Health issues / pain
- Changes to their living environment
- Changes in daily routine
- Loss of a fellow pet or family member
Prevention and Treatment of Anxiety
Making your pet’s well-being a priority is the first step to preventing anxiety. Make sure they get ample mental stimulation through toys, games and training. Physical exercise through walks or daily playtime are key to good physical and mental health. All pets need the nurturing of their owners. Take the time to show them your love and provide high-quality, nutritious food, fresh water and a clean environment.
If you do notice signs of anxiety, it’s important to resolve the issue(s) leading to the stress. Left unanswered, it can lead to a compromised immune system, severe depression and / or behavior problems. If you can identify the trigger and alleviate or remove it, that would be the easiest solution. You could also try some calming supplements for dogs or for cats to see if that helps your pet deal with what’s bothering them.
If the cause isn’t obvious, you will want to rule out any physical problems by taking your pet to the veterinarian. If your vet determines it’s nothing physical, they can help recommend next steps for treatment. If it’s determined the cause is psychological, they may recommend seeing a veterinary behaviorist or prescribe anti-anxiety medications.
Treating anxiety may be a long, tedious process, but your persistence and patience will pay off. The important thing is to find a way to help your pet find its previous contented state of mind.
This blog is brought to you by Under the Weather®, makers of a line of award-winning freeze-dried bland diets for dogs, as well as calming supplements for dogs and cats experiencing anxiety. Our Calming soft chew treats promote relaxation and balanced behavior during times of high anxiety and stress such as car travel and thunderstorms.
Under the Weather is also an avid participant in the pet overpopulation cause. A portion of every sale is channeled to the Ruffy Rescue Transport Fund which finances the transportation of pets from overpopulated shelters around the U.S.A. to Vermont for adoption. The fund also covers the cost of spaying and neutering these animals. Get to know more about Ruffy and the inspiration for our company.
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