Ways To Lower Anxiety in Your Pet
Author, Stephanie James for Professional Pet Sitting Etc.
Pets experience anxiety in varying degrees and with different triggers. In some cases, pets are in a generalized state of anxiety persistently. Luckily, there are ways to alleviate anxiety symptoms in pets without turning to prescription medications that may have undesirable side effects.
Causes of Anxiety in Pets
The most common causes of anxiety in pets generally fall into two categories:
- Situational – Includes anxiety related to triggering situations, such as fireworks, thunderstorms, traveling and encountering strangers.
- Behavioral – Includes generalized phobias, such as separation anxiety (from the owner), as well as a persistent anxiety that seems unrelated to any particular trigger.
In addition, pets may experience anxiety related to illness or injury that causes pain, severe allergies, and underlying diseases or toxic conditions.
Symptoms of Anxiety in Pets
Anxiety can manifest for your pet in various ways, with some symptoms being easily connected and others being not so obviously related.
- Urinating or defecating indoors or outside of litter box
- Excessive licking of lips
- Loss of appetite
These symptoms indicate that your pet is under a lot of stress and needs some sort of intervention or treatment to feel more at ease.
How to Relieve Anxiety in Your Pet
Avoid or Reduce Triggers
In the case of situational anxiety, you can usually anticipate triggers. Try to avoid these triggers. If unavoidable, such as a thunderstorm or fireworks, provide comfort to your pet. Try to not leave your pet alone under these circumstances, as this will feed the anxiety. It’s impossible to avoid triggers for behavioral anxiety, such as leaving for work or underlying disease. This type of anxiety requires treatment that relieves anxiety in general.
Sleep with Your Pet
Sleeping with your pet works as a natural sleep aid due to the release of oxytocin and serotonin that occurs when you cuddle up to your pet. In addition, snuggling with your pet lowers the stress hormone cortisol, which is a stimulating chemical that is produced when someone is in “fight or flight” mode.
Take Long Walks
Taking long walks or running with your pet not only helps you both stay fit physically, but research has shown that exercise is important for mental health as well. According to a study from The Primary Care Companion to the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, “Aerobic exercises, including jogging, swimming, cycling, walking, gardening, and dancing, have been proven to reduce anxiety and depression.”
CBD stands for cannabidiol. It is also known as a cannabinoid, a compound naturally produced by the body in the endocannabinoid system. CBD connects with receptors within this system to provide a calming effect. You can put CBD on your pet’s food or give it to them in dog treats.
Simulate Hugs and Cuddling
There are products you can buy to simulate being hugged or cuddled. This stimulates the same “feel good” chemicals released in the body when actually being touched by a loved one. Two such products are the ThunderShirt, which your pet can wear anytime, and weighted blankets that you can lay over your pet as they rest or sleep.
Invest in Smart Technology
From monitoring your pet’s activity to dispensing treats, smart technology can make things, like calming your pet, happen when you’re not even home. The iCalmDog portable speaker, for example, plays soothing, anti-stress music for four hours at a time. Set it in the morning before going to work, and again when you come home for a walk with your dog.
Consult a Trainer
If all else fails, or maybe when you first notice signs of anxiety in your pet, consult a trainer. It is sometimes possible to help train a pet out of the reaction they have to their various triggers. The technique used is known as desensitization, which involves gradually introducing an anxiety-inducing trigger and offering rewards along the way. However, this process takes a lot of work and time, and it can end up being very expensive.
Author, Stephanie James is a special contributor for Professional Pet Sitting Etc.
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