Dog and Cat Stress, Anxiety and Fear
Having a sad, nervous or scared pet is quite heartbreaking to us as pet parents. Of course, that brief moments of fear and stress are perfectly normal, but when anxiety becomes persistent, it should be a red flag for dog and cat owners that something is wrong with their animal.
If you can recognise the first signs of anxiety and identify the cause, you can work on a strategy to address this issue. Fortunately, there are multiple options you can explore to help your furry companion. We found several that work great, so let's check them out!
Signs of stress in dogs and cats
In many ways your pet might show signs of distress; some stress triggers are more obvious than others.
Excessive licking and grooming
Licking is an activity that has a calming effect on cats and dogs. If you notice your pet licks their paws and area around the nose excessively, it might indicate they are anxious.
Dilated pupils and whale eye
Whale eye is another sign of stress your pet might be showing. Pay attention to certain situations where your dog tends to show whites of its eyes. Whites usually appear in a dog's eyes' inner and outer corners.
Stress can cause pets to develop flaky skin and start shedding suddenly. If this is a one-time thing, it will roughly last up to four days. You can comb your pet to lessen the effects of shedding and always consult your vet if you notice some changes on the skin.
Keep in mind that shedding is normal during the summer months but if it continues, it's most likely caused by some health condition.
Barking and whining
Increased barking and whining can indicate your cat or dog is feeling stressed. This is one of the ways they communicate with pet parents, telling us they need something. Even though such behaviour might annoy human family members, it's crucial to consult your vet to rule out emotional or physical distress.
Drooling and yawning
Not many of you would consider yawning a sign of stress, but it is. In fact, this is one of the most overlooked signs of anxiety. If you notice your animals are stress yawning, it means they are nervous and unsure what to do. Drooling is another sign that you have an anxious dog at hand.
Hiding is more common for cats, which are elusive by nature and love to find places to curl up for a short nap. But if your cat starts hiding suddenly, it can show they have experienced some kind of stress.
Getting a cat tree can help because most kitties feel comfortable when they are up high. Ensuring your cat has a safe room is another way to provide shelter and help them relieve anxiety.
Accidents around the house
Is your pet no longer using the litter box or doesn't want to go to the potty? This is the most obvious clue that your pet has anxiety issues, especially potty-trained animals.
For animals, body language is everything and it's one of the ways they communicate with pet parents. If you notice flat ears, tricked tail or trembling, your furry friend might be exposed to high stress.
Cats and dogs love to eat but when they lose their appetite, they are either sick or anxious. If their eating habits have changed drastically, visit the vet to rule out any medical problems.
Reducing stress in cats and dogs
As you realise your pet is stressed and recognise the first signs, you can take the necessary steps to ensure a calmer environment.
Start with daily activities
When you are stressed or upset, a sweaty workout helps you release all that pent up energy. Well, you can apply the same routine to your pet. Allowing them to burn off steam and improve behaviour issues will also keep their body weight under control and maintain a strong cardiovascular function.
Engage in indoor games, fetch, hikes, jogs and daily walks
Stick to the same routine, especially for cats.
Cats thrive on a routine and benefit from regular bedtimes, playtimes and mealtimes. Changing something in their schedule can lead to stress and anxiety, triggering, for example, inappropriate urination.
Create a safe haven for them
Building a sanctuary for your furry friend is a perfect way to help them retreat and recoup. Your pet might be scared of fireworks, guests or thunderstorms, so they need to have a place where they can relax. You can place a cozy bed into a covered crate and stock it with treats and toys or get a cat tree.
Encourage mental stimulation
Cats and dogs tend to get bored after some time, which leads to numerous behavioural issues, like separation anxiety, destructive activities and inappropriate urination. Your pet's mind needs to be sharp and engaged and for that purpose, you can use treats and food puzzles and interactive toys.
Use compression wraps
Acupressure points have been shown to release calming neurochemicals. You can use different compression wraps to apply pressure to certain calming points. Compression wrap can be used on both cats and dogs.
Use pheromone diffusers
When dealing with anxious cats or dogs, you can get species-specific pheromones, collars, sprays and diffusers that generate a calming effect. You can find these products in specialised pet stores.
Supplements can be a powerful ally in reducing anxiety in your pets. Always look for reliable cat and dog anxiety medication Australia suppliers.
While you may prefer pop-rock bands instead of classical composers, your pet might appreciate the soothing sounds of mellow music. When you are away from home, try leaving a TV with calming music in the background.
Be a role model
Pets are often in tune with our mood and can easily pick up stress and anxiety. Whenever you interact with your cat or dog, try to stay calm. Practice meditation to relieve your worries.
Active ingredients to look for in cat anxiety supplements
All cats have different personalities and will respond differently in various situations. If anxiety is a problem and threatens to become a chronic condition, you will want to give your cat a means to control or reduce the effects of stress.
Supplements come as the most effective form in combating anxiety but not all are the same, varying in the number and type of active ingredients.
Catnip: an ingredient known to alleviate stress and anxiety in cats, particularly in situations like being left alone, when exposed to loud noises or during vet visits.
Valerian root: many believe valerian root has the same properties as catnip but with one significant difference. Not only will this plant calm your kitty, but its sedation powers will help your pet sleep better. Valerian root is used in human medicine to treat insomnia and has the same effect on felines.
Chamomile: studies have shown that chamomile contains substances that affect the nervous system and the same parts of the brain as anti-anxiety drugs. The extract of this herb will reduce stress and promote relaxation.
Passion flower extract: this plant has the ability to soothe the body and the mind, help with sleep and minimise stress.
Your cat will also benefit from magnesium, hemp powder, L-Tryptophan, vitamin B1 and Withania somnifera extract.
Active ingredients in dog calming products
When purchasing anxiety dog supplements, make sure that the following active ingredients are included in the formula.
L-Tryptophan: this is an amino acid that's important for the formation of the neurotransmitter serotonin, which regulates many behavioural processes, like anxiety, aggression and mood. Some studies indicate a link between the metabolism of L-Tryptophan and fear in canines.
Valerian, chamomile and passion flower extract: these herbs have a calming effect on your dog, reduce anxiety and improve sleep.
Magnesium: this mineral is crucial in many systems necessary for a balanced mood. By adding supplements rich in magnesium to your dog's diet, you are ensuring your pup stays calm during stressful situations.
Other active ingredients include hemp powder, vitamin B1, catnip, ginger root powder and Withania somnifera extract.
The most common types of anxiety in cats and dogs
Anxiety isn't a one-size-fits-all condition and there are different types commonly known as:
General anxiety disorder: animals with this condition tend to be scared of anything and everything and usually hide when someone comes to their house.
Situational anxiety: pets with situational anxiety aren't anxious all the time, only in certain situations, like when hearing strange noises, during thunderstorms or vet visits.
Separation anxiety: cats and dogs with separation anxiety don't like to be left alone. You can minimise their stress level by giving them cat or dog calming products Australia.
When giving your pet a new calming supplement, it's a good idea to run the ingredients by your vet to make sure they are the right fit for your animal. Once you apply some of the tips we mentioned, you will notice a significant difference in your pet's behaviour. They will finally be able to lead a joyful life without fear.