Much Like Humans, Our Pets Can Suffer From Anxiety, Nervousness, & Fear


Much like humans, our pets can suffer from anxiety, nervousness, and fear that stems from a variety of causes. As a pet owner, it is up to you to discover what causes their anxiousness and find the best way to combat it. And as much as we wish we could just ask them what is wrong, it is generally pretty easy to pinpoint what is giving them trouble.

Both cats and dogs suffer from anxiety, albeit in some wildly different ways. What scares one may hardly affect the other, but in the end the results are usually the same. Hiding, panting, drooling, shaking and sometimes even lashing out in anger are all typical reactions to fear or anxiety. The first step to calming your pet down is trying to prevent the issue from happening in the first place, hopefully by finding the cause.

Storms are a major factor in anxiety for pets, especially dogs. You may notice your dog immediately going to a hiding place as soon as they hear the first peal of thunder, while some will even hide at the first signs of rain in anticipation of the loud noises to follow. When you know a storm is approaching, make sure they always have a secure hiding spot available to them, generally a crate, closet or small area for them to curl up in. This can also apply during July 4th or New Year’s Eve, when fireworks are likely to be going off.

Strangers, both human and animal, are another huge factor in causing fear and anxiety with your pets. Slowly introducing new people into your home is necessary for some dogs, as they are usually more protective of their home. Only you know how your dog will react to a stranger, so use caution when introducing new people into your house, especially if you have a rescue animal. You may not always know what happened in their past, so anything from larger breed dogs to men can be contributing factors. Take the time to figure out what it is and work with them. It can take some effort when you introduce new people and even longer with a new family pet, but over time they can eventually become friends.

With cats, they are more likely to hide or lash out. Always make sure your cat has a small, enclosed hiding space they can get to if they are the nervous type and never force them into a situation they aren’t comfortable with. Rescue cats, especially any that were feral or rescued from the street, are prone to being skittish of new environments and people. As with dogs, working with them over a period of time can help them overcome their fears, by providing treats when they come out and encouraging good behavior.

While certainly not the last form of anxiety in a long list of causes, it is certainly a big one that is almost exclusive to dogs. Separation anxiety. When leaving your dog, even if it is for a short period of time, you might notice that they have acted out in some way while you were gone. Chewing on the remote control, scratching up the door, ripping open the trash; all are very common reactions to separation anxiety. Some worse ones can be constant barking, howling, digging or trying to escape. Many a dog has broken free from their back yard or crate when left alone with separation anxiety.

If you notice your dog has separation anxiety, there are a few ways to try and work with them. Leaving them chew bones or food puzzles can keep them occupied while you leave and show them that your departure is not always a bad thing. Try occasionally taking them to a day care, so they can socialize while you are absent. This will help alleviate the stress of being alone and give them something to look forward to.  Finally, simply working on your routine when leaving can make a difference. Perhaps show them that every time you grab your keys does not always mean you are about to leave. When you do leave, don’t make a big show of saying goodbye, which will help keep them calm when you are gone.

Overall, there are many different reasons for your pet’s anxiety and just as many solutions. If you are ever unsure or notice that they continue to act out, always consult your veterinarian. Sometimes what you think may be anxiety could just as easily be an unknown medical condition. Espree also offers several options to help calm your dog, such as our Perfect Calm chew tablets or Calming Balm Lavender & Kava. We want your pets to be a stress reliever for you, so help them to relieve their own stress. Remember, when you cut down on the stress and anxiety your pet feels, they will be happier, more playful and learn to love you even more.

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