Stress is a state of mental and emotional strain. Us humans get headaches, upset tummies and tight shoulders but it can be tricky to tell when your pet pal is feeling anxious.To provide the best possible care, owners need to be able to spot signs of when their pet is acting up. Most of the common behaviour problems in pets can be put down to your cat or dog feeling stressed.
What causes stress in pets?
There are several types of anxiety in pets including:
- Separation – being left alone
- Noise – fearof loud or alarming noises, for example, fireworks
- Travel – stress due to sickness
- Confinement – fear of trapped spaces
How can I recognise stress in pets?
Pets may display several worrying symptoms when they are stressed, including being more sleepy than usual, having loose stools or over-grooming.
Signs of stress in cats:
- Ears pinned back
- Eyes wide open and glaring with fully-dilated pupils
- Rapid breathing
- Growling, hissing, shaking or drooling
- Urinating involuntarily or spraying
Signs of stress in dogs:
- Excessive shedding
- Destructive or avoidance behaviours
- Growling, barking or biting
- Excessive tail-wagging
- Chewing furniture
How can I stop my pet getting stressed?
The key to keeping your pet happy is balance. Too much or too little exercise can be harmful to your pet. Stressful situations can cause several health problems in dogs and cats. But if we look at contributing factors, we can help ease the anxiety of our pets. For example, Alopecia can be treated with shampoos, lotions or antibiotic therapy but if they don’t work, your pet’s hair loss may be caused by stress. To reduce the anxiety in your pet’s life, you can try the following:
Pets feel comforted by having familiar place to sleep where they know they will be relaxed and safe. Throw in a few blankets and a toy your pet loves to make them feel at home.
Stress in pets can be due to a lack of exercise. Ensure you walk your dog daily and that you cat has access to roam outside as both can help reduce stress.
Providing your pet with different toys can reduce boredom and increase stimulation. Giving them something to play with or a puzzle with a food prize, takes their mind off what is causing the stress. Teaching them tricks can also provide mental stimulation.
Leave goodbye treats
Some owners leave a treat for their pet when they are about to leave for several hours – and again on their return. Their pet then associates the treat with the owner coming back. This ‘cool approach’ may make for an easier departure for your pet.
Have a fixed routine
Your dog will feel better from having regular routines such as feeding, bed or play times. This also includes house rules about not jumping up or barking, etc.
It is a great idea to expose dogs and cats to a variety of social situations and environments before they are 15 weeks old, to decrease the chances of them learning feared behaviour. Now you know how to reduce stress in pets, you will be prepared to spot any signs, should your pet be acting unusually. Always ensure you can provide the best care by getting pet insurance from a reputable provider such as Animal Friends to cover your animal in the event of illness.