Jumpy Jakes And Nervous Nellies: Coping With Pet Anxiety

Sad homeless street dogLike humans, pets have fears and anxieties, some more than others. Like humans, excessive anxiety can have adverse effects on our pet’s mental and physical health.

Learning strategies to help your furry pal cope with his or her pet anxiety is key to a happy and peaceful life for everyone in your household, and your team at Rocklin Ranch Veterinary Hospital is here for you every step of the way.

Types Of Pet Anxiety

Most pet anxieties can be broken down into three basic categories:

  • Social anxiety – A pet that wasn’t properly socialized early in life may react with fear or aggression when forced to interact with other people and animals.
  • Noise anxiety – Extreme reaction to loud noises, such as thunder, fireworks, sirens, gunshots, and vacuum cleaners is classified as noise anxiety.
  • Separation anxiety – Because dogs evolved as pack animals, it isn’t natural for them to be left alone for long periods of time. Leaving a dog alone too often can create feelings of loneliness and anxiety. Even our independent feline friends need frequent contact and socialization with us for their overall wellbeing.

Signs And Symptoms

Each individual pet responds differently to fear and anxiety. Some of the most common signs that your pet may be dealing with anxiety are:

  • Barking, howling, whining, or other vocalizations
  • Chewing, digging, and other destructive behaviors
  • Excessive panting
  • Attempting to escape
  • House soiling
  • Pacing
  • Clinginess
  • Repetitive grooming
  • Aggression
  • Extreme shyness

How You Can Help

The number one way to help your pet cope with his or her anxiety is to stay calm! Pets can sense our emotions, and your stress will only make your pet more upset. Stay relaxed, and take charge of the situation with the following tips:

  • Remove your pet from the source of the anxiety if possible. Set up an out of the way space during a storm, fireworks display, or party, for your pet to relax and hide. Include his or her food, water, bedding, and toys.
  • Make sure your pet gets plenty of exercise and attention, especially right before you leave the home if he or she is experiencing separation anxiety.
  • Pets thrive on consistency, and an upset in the schedule can increase anxiety. Keep your pet’s daily routine as predictable as possible.
  • Pressure garments, such as the Thundershirt, have been clinically proven to reduce anxiety in some pets.
  • Play with your pet as a way of distracting him or her during times of anxiety.
  • Stay near your pet when he or she is anxious, and offer verbal and physical reassurance.

Keeping Your Pet Safe

Preparation is always better than improvisation when it comes to anxiety-related safety for your pets:

  • Because anxious pets are more likely to escape, make sure pets wear properly fitting collars with current ID tags at all times. If you haven’t had your pet microchipped yet, consider doing so.
  • Don’t leave pets unattended or outdoors during thunderstorms or fireworks displays, or if you anticipate any other loud noises.
  • Don’t bring your pet to a fireworks display, parade, or other event where his or her anxiety may be triggered.

Rocklin Ranch Veterinary Hospital Is Here For You

Please don’t hesitate to give us a call if you are still struggling with your pet’s anxiety. Some pets need assistance in the form of behavioral therapy and/or medication. Your veterinarian will work with you to come up with the right plan for your pet.

posted in:  Pet Safety