How To Relieve Your Pet’s Anxiety


How To Relieve Your Pet’s Anxiety

Stress and anxiety are a part of everyday life for most of us. However, many inexperienced pet owners are surprised to learn that animals can be just as adversely affected by these emotions as humans are. As a loving and conscientious owner, you will certainly want to ensure that your beloved animal is as calm and happy as possible throughout her life, including during times that may be a little stressful for her.

Why do pets become anxious?

Much like humans, animals can become stressed and anxious for a wide variety of different reasons. Nevertheless, the most common reason for them to develop anxiety is a change in the environment around them. This could be something small, such as changing her bed or the time when she is usually fed, to something much larger like introducing a new family member or moving to a new home. Animals are surprisingly sensitive to change, particularly since they have no control over what is going on around them and lack the vocal ability to ask questions and be reassured.

Other things that may cause your pet to appear anxious include:

-         Invading her personal space

-         Being over-stimulated

-         Unusually loud noises and situations

-         Travelling (particularly if your pet is not used to it)

-         Separation anxiety

-         Reliving a bad experience (such as a visit to the vet)

-         Other animals

-         Underlying illness


Signs that your pet is suffering from anxiety

It is not always easy to identify the signs of anxiety. Every animal is unique in the way in which they deal with specific situations and while it may be very obvious that some pets are stressed and anxious, others may hide it very well, particularly if they are worried that it makes them in some way vulnerable. This is often the case if there are other pets in the household or it is the presence of another animal that is causing her anxiety.


Nevertheless, there are some common characteristics shared by pets who are suffering from anxiety. These include:

-         Loss of appetite

-         Weight loss

-         Hiding from you when you call

-         Tucked tail

-         Crouched body position

-         Refusal to leave her bed

-         Following you around like a shadow (often a sign of separation anxiety)

-         Pulled-back ears

-         Upset stomach (loss of bladder/bowel control or loose stools)

-         Trembling/shaking

-         Persistently scratching/licking herself

-         Increased whining, howling or barking

How to relieve your pet’s anxiety

You will be pleased to know that there are some steps that you can take to help relieve your pet’s anxiety and make her feel safe and secure once more. The most important thing to do is to try and pinpoint exactly what is causing her to suffer from anxiety in the first place. If it is something that can be rectified by making a change back to how it was before, such as feeding her at a different time, then relieving her anxiety may be a relatively quick fix.


However, many instances of pet anxiety are caused by environmental changes that are simply unavoidable. If this is the case, you will need to help your pet to cope with the change by reassuring her as much as possible. This may involve any number of techniques and it may be necessary for you to use trial and error to see which are most effective for your individual animal.


Some of the most successful ways to calm an anxious pet include:

-         Physical contact. Petting an animal has been shown to slow heart rates and relieve anxiety, fear and stress in both animals and humans alike.

-         Provide enough exercise. Pent-up energy only makes anxiety and stress levels worse whereas physical exertion has been shown to reduce them. An additional walk could make all the difference to how your pet is feeling.

-         Stopping all stimulation. Over-stimulated pets become easily hyperactive and this can manifest as stress or anxiety. Instead, put your pet in a calm, quiet space so that she can chill out and relax.

-         Play music designed for pets. This is especially helpful in pets who suffer from separation anxiety as it can help her to feel that someone else is with her even when they are not.


You should also make sure that your own emotional climate is calm and stress-free as much as possible. This is because pets are very good at reading and adopting the feelings and atmosphere of the people around them, and if this is very negative, it could cause your animal to be adversely affected too.


If you believe that your pet is showing anxiety symptoms, but cannot pinpoint a cause, it may be that your furry, feathered or scaly friend is harboring an illness and it is a good idea to arrange for a check-up with our veterinarian. He/she will be able to perform a physical examination of your pet, as well as perform any necessary tests to determine if your animal has an underlying illness.


For further information about relieving pet anxiety, please contact us and speak to our veterinary team.