How to deal with anxiety in pets.
Over the last few months we have touched on this topic a few times, especially in reference to ‘going back to the office’, or coming out of lockdown and attempting a staycation. But, as this topic is especially relevant to the upcoming fireworks season, it is of course worth mentioning again. For many pet parents this could be the first fireworks season they are experiencing with their new furry friend. So for all our new pet parents out there here is a breakdown of what to look out for and what steps you can take to help your pets.
What are the main symptoms of pet anxiety?
Symptoms of anxiety will vary from animal to animal and while there are key things that you can look out for in your pet, the most important thing you can do is understand what is normal behaviour for your pet, then you will be able to recognise any different behaviours which could be signs of anxiety.
Here are some general signs to look out for:
- Drooling – if this is not a common trait for your breed (eg. Mastiffs drool a lot but a Border Collie drooling could be a cause for concern)
- Panting when it isn’t a hot day – particularly a spoon pant, which is a flat and wide pant
- Whale Eye – this is incredibly subtle but look out for the whites of their eyes
- Tail Flicking
- Losing their hair – this could be from excessive grooming which is a sign of anxiety
It is also worth noting, that as well as watching out for your pet’s reactions and behaviours, it is important to notice your own – because if you are anxious about a situation, it is likely that your pet will pick up on this and mirror your behaviour.
What should an owner do if they recognise any of these symptoms in their animal?
Educate yourself on what you can do in the long run to help your pets, start training them early, start preparing them for events that could trigger their anxiety or make them anxious. Dogs especially will enjoy mental stimulation which will keep them entertained – snuffle mats can be a great foraging exercise to distract them. These mats can be used with a variety of animals; it is by no means solely for dogs and can help with anxiety in other animals also.
Puzzle Feeders/Slow Feeders/KONG toys are great, the actual licking of a KONG with a frozen treat is naturally self soozing, and chewable treats function in the same manner. These are great to have on hand to help calm your anxious pet.
Pet Remedy & Feliway have a large selection of de-stress & calming treatments for all pets including cats, dogs, rabbits, rodents, horses, birds and reptiles. These can be of great help to you especially when trying to help an anxious pet. The main advice when using these however would be to start sooner rather than later. So, as we know, the season is upon us it would be ideal to be looking into these brands now.
When it comes to fireworks season what advice is there for nervous pets?
Start preparing early, don’t wait for the season to start before you start to address the issue. It could help to prepare a safe area for your animal to go, keeping curtains and doors closed and having extra noise with the TV or music to drown out the sound.
Try not to make a big fuss of them if they come to you for reassurance while fireworks are going on as this could inadvertently reaffirm and ‘reward’ the anxious feeling. Instead give them very gentle reassurance or distract them with food, games or music – dogs have been shown to respond particularly well to classical music.
As always, if you have any questions regarding ‘How To Deal With Pet Anxiety’, don’t hesitate to get in touch with a member of our team, you can pop into the store or get in touch via any of our social channels or website. And also be sure to check out our new podcast, search ‘petplace’ on Apple or Spotify to listen to the full discussion about ‘How To Deal With Pet Anxiety’.