Does Your Pet Have Anxiety?
Here’s How You Can Help!
Everyone has experienced some form of anxiety in 2020. As we navigate our nervousness, us pet-owners need to keep a close eye on our animals to monitor their stress, too. Since dogs and cats cannot request medication or schedule a therapy appointment, it is the pet-owners’ responsibility to identify, prevent, and treat animal anxiety.
”I Take Great Care of My Pet, What Do They Have to Worry About?”
You may think that our furry-friends live worry-free lives, but this isn’t true; animals have sophisticated minds and experience emotions similar to humans.
Certain breeds of dogs, including border-collie, greyhound, and labrador retrievers are prone to generalized anxiety. In this case, there isn’t a specific root of the problem, and symptoms may be harder to recognize — but you can still refer to the treatment and prevention methods below to help them!
Here are a few potential triggers for pet anxiety:
Separation: Does your usually relaxed pet go off the rails when they’re left without you or your family? They likely have separation anxiety.
Fear: Animals have phobias just like people do. Odd atmospheres, alarming noises, and unusual visuals (like a strange hat) can easily spark an anxious episode.
Age: As they get older, pets may begin to develop cognitive dysfunction. This can lead to confusion and anxiety.
Their Past: Sheltered or rescued animals may be anxious because they once lived in unpredictable or unusual circumstances, or worse, were victims of neglect or abuse.
Now that we understand some causes of your pet’s anxiety, let’s talk about how this anxiety can manifest.
Symptoms to be on the lookout for include:
- Destructive behavior
- Repetitive or compulsive behaviors
- Pacing & Restlessness
- Frequent barking, howling or meowing
There are also less noticeable things to pick up on, including lip licking and paw lifting.
Unfortunately, a major indication of pet anxiety is urinating and defecation in the house or somewhere they’re not supposed to. This is common — instead of getting angry with them, treat their anxiety!
Prevention & Treatment
Anxiety doesn’t have to be a prevalent problem for your pet. There’s a great deal we can do to help our companions cope!
Stopping Your Pet’s Anxiety From Becoming a Persistent Problem
Professional Obedience Training: An excellent resource, professional obedience training lays the groundwork for a lifetime of healthy and happy habits.
A Nutrient-Rich Diet and a Regular Exercise Routine: Like people, getting active and eating healthy food has a positive impact on our pet’s mental health.
Make Sure You’re Giving Them Enough Love: For most cats and dogs, physical affection is key in connecting with their human friends. If you leave them for an extended period, remember to give them the time and attention they deserve!
Shield Them From Triggers: For pets with particular triggers, if what they fear is out of sight, it is likely out of mind. Monitor their situations and keep them away from stressful environments or objects.
Medications & Supplements
A health concern like any other, if your pet is suffering from anxiety, a medicinal approach may be the best course of action. From organic over-the-counter options to prescription medications, below are just a few suggested medications:
Alprazolam: A sedative, Alprazolam (Xanax) should be used sparingly to calm your pet before a stressful situation (like a visit to the vet, or a road trip).
Sertraline: Great for general anxiety and anxiety-related behavioral issues, Sertraline is an SSRI that will give your pet a needed dose of serotonin.
In addition to medication, there are other ways to help your pet relax:
Partners in Protecting Your Pet’s Mental Health
Northside Animal Hospital in Valdosta, GA, is here to help ensure that your pet experiences an enjoyable and worry-free life! If you believe your animal is suffering from anxiety, contact us and we can start discussing ways to soothe your pet!