Pets can experience anxiety and stress in a similar way that humans can. However, they can’t talk to a friend or an expert about what’s worrying them. It’s up to their humans to spot the signs of worry and do what they can to alleviate the symptoms and remove the stressor.
It’s important to spot stress symptoms as early as possible in pets. Once they set in, they can become habits that are hard to break. Chronic stress and anxiety can turn your fur baby into a totally different personality—cats and dogs can become aggressive, destructive, or completely reclusive.
The good news is, if you spot the signs early and take charge of the situation, you can usually reduce stress in a pet with some simple techniques. If the anxiety becomes chronic, you may need to resort to prescribed medication and ask help from a professional behaviorist. Follow these steps as soon as you spot anxious behavior. Hopefully, they’ll calm your furry buddy right down.
If there’s something particular that you know stresses out your pet—thunder and lightning, garbage collection day, or fireworks—you can plan ahead and use distraction techniques. Giving them a toy to play with or something to chew on will shift their focus and distract them. This also works for a pet that has separation anxiety. Get them to associate their cause of stress with getting a treat, and they won’t get so anxious about it in the future.
Plenty Of Exercise
Exercise has and always will be the best way to bust stress for both humans and pets. The endorphins the body releases automatically combats any stress-related symptoms. Exercise also has the added benefit of tiring your pet out so they don’t have the energy to feel anxiety.
With dogs, creating an exercise routine is important because it gives them something to look forward to. They learn that at a certain time, they’ll go for a walk or get to play. This helps them cope a lot better with separation anxiety.
Another correlation between humans and their pets is the impact of upbeat music on our mental and emotional wellbeing. If you can’t be with your animal for a long period of time, or can’t focus all your attention on them, play some classical or upbeat music. The sound should soothe their stress and let you get on with whatever you need to do without worrying about them.
Most of the time, therapy for stress and anxiety in pets looks very much like what you would do for yourself. A good massage can do wonders to get rid of tension in the muscles or to stop repetitive shaking in an anxious little body. With dogs, cats, and many small pets like gerbils or parrots, just stroking them can be enough to calm them and release pent up anxiety.
A good comb or brush can work the same way that touch or massage therapy does. It also helps pets like dogs and cats get rid of fur that they often shed through anxiety. You can take this one step further by bathing them using stress relief shampoo. This combines grooming and massage therapy, and lets them spend quality time with you.
If your pet enjoys going to different places and seeing people, consider taking them to a groomer for a wash, a trim, and even getting their claws clipped. This is not the best idea if you’ve never done it before, and your pet is already anxious. It could overwhelm them, so only opt for this if you know for a fact that they’ll enjoy it.
Mental stimulation works similarly to distraction techniques. Your pet needs to focus on the task at hand, meaning they have less time to worry about what’s stressing them out. Teach them new tricks, set up obstacle courses, or give them a puzzle toy. These keep them occupied and stimulated in a healthy way.
Wrap Them Up
Nothing beats a hug when you’re feeling sad or anxious, and the same goes for your furry friends. If your pet needs ongoing reassurance, wrap them tightly in a blanket or bandage to provide constant pressure on their bodies. You can even get specially made coats for dogs that wrap around them snuggly to help with anxiety. These so-called Thundershirts have proven to have a calming effect.
If something is stressing your pet out, you can often break the cycle of anxiety by removing them from the situation entirely. A quiet room at the back of the house, away from noise yet filled with comforting things such as their bed, might be just the ticket. You can close the curtains to make the room dark and play calming music for them.
There are plenty of natural supplements that you can buy for pets that can help calm them. CBD oil and other holistic tinctures can really take the edge off. If you opt for these treatment types, it’s important to do your research first and make sure that you purchase any calming remedies from a reputable seller. Going the natural route is often preferable to chemicals, but it’s a good idea to run any remedies past your vet first.
Change The Scent
Animals are highly receptive to scents, and they can often associate a scent with something that stresses them out. A spray that scents the air or your pet’s fur can be hugely soothing, as they’ll inhale the calming smell all the time.
Another option is to invest in a pheromone collar, spray, or diffuser. The pheromones in these products mimic a mother dog’s natural scent, which she produces to reassure and calm her puppies. Even at an adult age, dogs recognize this scent and respond to it.
We hope you’ve found these 10 tips to be helpful! An anxious pet can be heartbreaking, but with time, patience, and lots of love and encouragement, you can help them relax. The trick is to act fast. The minute you see any signs of stress, do whatever you can to minimize them. Your furry buddy will thank you for it!