One of the most common causes of anxiety and stress in pets is a change in their everyday lives. Similar to humans, dogs and cats thrive on routine, even the smallest changes can be upsetting.
How can I tell my pet is stressed?
An important key to knowing whether he is experiencing stress is a change in his general behaviour. While not all pets react to stress in the same manner, you should be alert to changes.
- He may become aggressive or timid.
- A pet that usually has a good appetite may refuse to eat.
- He can become clingy and demanding.
- If stress is extreme, his health may begin to suffer.
Sources of Stress
The changes that lead to stress and anxiety can be so minor that you may not think about the effect on your pet. If you have developed the habit of feeding him or playing with him at a certain time every day, he may start to show signs of stress and anxiety when these routines do not occur at the usual time.
Other changes such as a new job that requires you to be away more, or you have moved to a new home, can be very stressful to a pet.
Some sources of stress are just out of your control, like thunderstorms or bonfire night when fireworks are common. Here’s our helpful blog if you’re concerned about dog anxiety with fireworks.
What can you do to help?
If you have noticed any changes in your pet’s behaviour, the first step should be to minimize the changes in his everyday life. When changes are necessary, you can minimize their impact. As an example, if moving home, help him become familiar with the new environment. If your work hours mean less time with your pet, provide quality time with him when you are at home.
Keep his eating, sleeping, and play routines as consistent as possible. The more consistency he has in his daily life, the easier it will be for him to cope with change.
There are products that can also help with your pet’s anxiety. There are three types of product:
- Calming tablets/liquid
- Pheromone diffusers
Natural supplements such as Serene-UM contain natural ingredients that increase the amounts of serotonin produced. This calms your pets, and is available in tablet (Serene-UM Calming tablets) or liquid form (Serene-UM Calming Drops) – liquid form is sometimes easier to administer. Natural and safe, with no side effects – making it perfect for fireworks and thunderstorms.
it is often more effective to start treatment a few days beforehand.
Thundershirt is a pressure wrap which provides a constant gentle pressure onto the dog’s torso. Using pressure to relieve anxiety is common practice and has been used by veterinarians for years.
No training required, and visible results are likely with the first usage. But results vary, so it may take a couple of usages to see results – you should allow for this if using for a problem such as bonfire night.
Pheromone diffuser (Feliway / DAP)
Appeasing pheromones are released by queens and bitches when lactating to calm and reassure their offspring – this continues to be effective into the adult stage.
These plugin diffusers release a scentless version of the pheromone to comfort your pet, just plug it into the room most used by your pet, or where the anxiety/stress is most visible. Requiring no training, and typically with results in about a week or two – they are very easy to use.
Well, we hope some of these tips help! If you have some tips of your own that you’d like to share, please let us know in the comments.