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Stress-Free Pets Are Happy Pets

Stress-Free Pets Are Happy Pets

Did you know? Pets suffer from anxiety too, just like we do....

Like us, animals can develop anxiety. Victims of cruelty, abuse or neglect, may be especially prone to anxiety. But anxiety can occur in animals from any background.

Separation anxiety 
is most commonly seen in pets. Separation anxiety is triggered when dogs or cats become upset because of separation from their guardians, or the people they’re attached to. Escape attempts by dogs with separation anxiety are often extreme and can result in self-injury and household destruction, especially around exit points like windows and doors.

There is no conclusive evidence showing exactly why pets develop anxiety. However, because far more pets who have been adopted from shelters have this behaviour problem than those kept by a single family since puppyhood, it is believed that the loss of an important person or group of people in a dog’s life can lead to separation anxiety. Other less dramatic changes can also trigger the disorder such as a change in schedule, in residence or in household membership.

Recognizing the Signs

One of the most common complaints of pet parents is that their dogs are disruptive or destructive when left alone or when they are attempting to leave. Their dogs might:

- Urinate or defecate
- Bark or Howl
- Chew/destroy things
- Dig
- Try to escape
- Pace
- Attempt to prevent you from leaving

Although these problems often indicate that a dog needs to be taught polite house manners, they can also be symptoms of distress. When a dog’s problems are accompanied by other distress behaviours, such as drooling and showing anxiety or depression when his pet parents prepare to leave the house, it’s likely evidence that the dog has separation anxiety.

In cats, signs like hiding, not eating, social withdrawal, panting, hypervigilance, dilated pupils, aggression and twitching tails or ears can indicate stress and anxiety.

How to Help

Since a pet can’t call their therapist when they need help, it is up to pet parents to help their furry friends when dealing with pet anxiety.

First things first, you want to rule out any medical conditions. Some dogs’ house soiling is caused by incontinence. A number of medical issues can cause urinary incontinence in dogs. Before attempting behaviour modification for separation anxiety, see your veterinarian to rule out medical issues.

Also, be mindful of any medications your pet may be on. There are several medications that can cause frequent urination and house soiling. If your pet takes any medications, please contact their veterinarian to find out whether their medications might contribute to house-soiling or other problems.

You’ll also want to rule out any behavioural problems such as submissive or excitement urination, urine marking, juvenile destruction, boredom and excessive barking, howling or vocalization due to environmental factors.

Do not scold or punish your dog or cat. 

Anxious behaviours are not the result of disobedience or spite. They are distress responses. If you punish them, they may become even more upset and the problem could get much worse.

Health effects

The effects of stress on an animal's body are strikingly similar to stress's effects on humans.

In both humans and animals, stress causes the body to release adrenaline and cortisol hormones. These chemicals cause heart rate and respiration to speed up, and suppress the immune system. Stress also clamps down on the reproductive system, reducing libido and reproductive hormones, which ultimately increases the risk for cardiovascular disease. All these all-too-human effects have also been measured in animals.

Certain animals or breeds do have a more nervous temperament than others, while traumatic events or exposure to particular stressors can make even a normally calm animal, stressed and perturbed. Fireworks, a trip to the vet, thunderstorms, small children, an abusive situation, change of owner, hair dryers, vacuum cleaners, change of house, the addition of another pet - these are just a few of the situations that can cause heightened levels of anxiety in your pet.

How can Stress Ease for pets help:

- Quickly calms anxious, stressed and highly strung pets

- Treats anxiety in pets or soothes those with nervous dispositions

- Helps to reduce anxiety and excitability in competitive events

- Helps your pet cope during times of domestic stress (moving house, new baby, new extension)

- Reduces distress during New Years Eve, fireworks, thunderstorms and other frightening occasions

- Calms your pet during visits to the vet.

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