Though they don’t have nearly the same amount of responsibility as their owners, pets can often suffer from anxiety just like humans do. This may not seem like a major issue to contend with–at least until one considers that a pet’s anxiety can adversely affect their relationship with their owners and also lead to troubling behaviors like vocalizing, marking, and home destruction. Fortunately, there are ways to work with your pet in order to reduce their anxiety.
Tips for Pet Anxiety
Pet anxiety is defined as a pet’s feeling of nervousness, uneasiness or apprehension. While any of these feelings are perfectly normal and acceptable in certain situations, constant anxiety, severe anxiety or anxiety that arises at inappropriate times can be a major issue that should not be ignored.
When addressing your pet’s anxiety issues, it is important to recognize two things: 1) your pet’s anxiety is associated with certain triggers and 2) your pet is truly scared, not simply misbehaving. Whether your pet’s anxiety is triggered by your absence from the home or loud sounds like thunder, there is a cause and a solution.
Tips for managing your pet’s anxiety:
- Have your vet thoroughly examine your pet. This is especially important if your pet’s anxiety seems to have come on very suddenly and severely, as a medical condition may be to blame. Whenever your pet experiences any sudden and dramatic behavioral change it is always good to have a vet give them a thorough examination.
- Refrain from punishing your pet for his behavior. If your pet is acting out as a result of their anxiety, one of the worst things you can do is punish them for their behavior. Instead, you need to be calm yourself in order to get your pet to relax as quickly as possible.
- Train your pet out of their separation anxiety. If your pet becomes incredibly anxious whenever you leave, train them out of this reaction by going through the motions of leaving without actually doing so, which includes even walking out the front door of the house and locking it–only to return moments later.
- Wait for your pet to calm down before you interact with them. If your pet is experiencing any sort of anxiety and you interact with them during that time, you are essentially acknowledging and reinforcing their anxiety. Instead, you should ignore them until they are calm.
- Set boundaries. If your pet insists on following you everywhere in the house due to their anxiety issues, you should set some boundaries to help them learn to be separate from you. For example, don’t let them come into the bathroom with you or sleep in your bed.
- Provide special toys to your pet when they are being calm. Any way that you can reward your pet for positive behavior is beneficial. When they are being calm, you can provide them with special toys they enjoy. Of course, it is very important to make sure they don’t have access to these toys when they are acting anxious.
- Have others interact with your pet in ways they enjoy. If your pet loves going for walks, playing fetch, being brushed or something similar you can have other individuals do this with them so that they don’t associate these pleasant experiences with you exclusively.
- Check into anxiety relief sprays, diffusers, collars, and wipes. There are a number of nutraceuticals, herbal and homeopathic options for dog and cat anxiety relief that can be incredibly effective, especially when used with other anti-anxiety methods as described above.
There is a marked difference between basic anxiety and terror. Unfortunately, in many cases, a pet’s terror is born out of animal abuse. It is, therefore, important when working with a rescue animal or when observing someone else’s pet to bear in mind the signs of animal abuse and take action if needed.
Animal Medical Center is well-experienced in helping pet owners deal with and diminish or even resolve their pet’s anxiety. For help with your anxious or nervous pet, contact us today!