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The Essential Guide to Stress in Pets

Blog Header Pet Stress

The world around us is extremely fast-paced and everyone is vulnerable to the effects of stress and anxiety, including our pets.

It is our responsibility as pet owners to keep an eye on our pets and pick up on any warning signs that may suggest they are suffering from stress.

There are a number of reasons why your pet may be feeling anxious and it can be difficult to find the cause of the problem or even spot the signs. Find out what causes pets to feel uneasy and the ways they try to tell you what’s wrong.

What causes stress?

Stress in an animal’s life can stem from the environment around them, their physical body or even be caused by emotions such as fear. Being aware of the types of situations and events that your pet finds stressful can help you prepare for anxiety when it occurs, and will allow you to put measures in place to prevent stress from becoming a serious problem in the future.

So, what are the most common situations that can cause intense anxiety for your pet?

  • Moving house
  • New members of the household. For example, a new pet or a baby
  • Visiting the vet/kennel/cattery
  • Grooming
  • Extreme temperatures
  • Unpredictable or unwanted interactions
  • Loud noises such as fireworks or thunder
  • Boredom and lack of stimulation

Your local Medivet will be able to advise you on the best ways of dealing with these situations to make it easier on your pet.

Spotting the signs of stress

It can be simple to spot the signs of stress in your pet but it’s actually the context in which they display the signs that is really important to understand. If your pet is put in a difficult situation and displays any of the following signs, then you should treat it as a stress signal.

What signs should you look out for?

  • Trembling or shaking
  • Restlessness or distraction
  • Hiding behind furniture
  • Trying to run away
  • Soiling in the house
  • Loss of appetite
  • Pacing and panting
  • Constantly barking or meowing
  • Excessive licking or grooming
  • Clinging to owners
  • Biting, growling or snarling
  • Slow or tense movement
  • Repeatedly yawning

Try not to punish your pet when they display signs of stress. This will do you no favours if you want to help them overcome their anxiety. In fact, punishment can turn into a bigger problem and worsen your pet’s behaviour, so it’s best to help them by creating a calm and peaceful environment.

Minimising stress in your pet

Identify the source of the problem

It could be that a new cat has moved into the neighbourhood and is getting into your house via your cat flap and is causing your pet to feel anxious. A solution to this would be to fit a microchip cat flap that only opens if the registered microchip is identified. Finding the source of the problem will help you understand what steps you need to take to resolve it.

Establish a clear routine and set of rules

A clear and consistent routine for feeding and walking will help your pet understand that there are a set of rules to be followed. It will also lead to them becoming well-trained, obedient pets and they will know exactly what to expect from their owner.

Remain calm

Animals are very quick to pick up on our own feelings and emotions. If we are stressed or upset, our pets immediately notice. This, in turn, can make them feel anxious. Therefore, it is important that we remain calm and in control when they are in our company.

Create a safe haven

Your pet will have a special spot they turn to in order to feel safe and protected. It is important to let them go where they feel comfortable.

Calming support

There are a variety of non-prescription, natural products available to help negate the effects of stress and anxiety in pets and they come in different forms such as capsules, sprays, plug-in diffusers, wipes and collars. Your vet will be able to advise you on the most suitable products for your pet and you can find them by using our online practice finder

Your pet’s health and welfare are at the heart of everything we do. We pride ourselves on providing the highest standard of veterinary care to each and every patient, so pop into your local practice today and experience the care and commitment that we are proud to offer.  

Posted October 6, 2015 by Cara Zaleski in Pet Care Advice

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