Understanding Pet Anxiety: Triggers, Symptoms, and Effects

Furlicks . @ 2023-10-10 23:56:00 +0530

Anxiety in pets is a thing, and we all need to address it. With the post-pandemic shift back to our regular routines, spending hours at the office daily became a natural adjustment for us. However, our pets faced a different reality. Adapting to this sudden change was not as straightforward for them. Separation anxiety is a prevailing issue across various pet types, ages, and sizes. Many aspects of pet anxiety remain unfamiliar to us, and that's perfectly okay. This is an opportunity to educate ourselves, recognize signs of anxiety in our pets, and discover methods like calming supplements for effective symptom management. 

What Causes Anxiety in Pets?  

The causes of anxiety among pets are similar to the causes of anxiety in humans: Fear. This is usually developed as a result of their past experiences. Maybe they were abandoned by the humans they loved and cared for so much. This could make them anxious every time you go to the office because they think that they will be abandoned again. Your pooch might be a fast runner, but they may not be very comfortable with the speed of a car. There are different types of anxiety, but the root cause of all is fear. 

Types of Anxiety

Your pet can get anxious for reasons that we may not even know. Below are some commonly observed types of anxiety that people have observed. 

1. Separation Anxiety:

Separation anxiety occurs when pets become stressed due to being separated from their owners. Common in dogs, this type of anxiety can lead to destructive behavior, excessive barking, and even self-harm. 

2. Noise Anxiety:

Noise anxiety involves pets, typically dogs, being fearful of loud noises such as thunderstorms, fireworks, or even vacuum cleaners. They may exhibit behaviors like trembling, hiding, or trying to escape.

3. Social Anxiety:

Some pets, like shy cats, may experience social anxiety when faced with unfamiliar people or animals. They might hide, avoid interactions, or display defensive behavior.

4. Travel Anxiety:

Travel anxiety affects pets during car rides or trips. Dogs might drool, vomit, or pant excessively, while cats may meow incessantly or become agitated. Familiarizing them with car rides gradually, using calming aids, and making the travel experience positive can ease their discomfort.

5. Routine Changes:

Pets thrive on routines, so sudden changes in their daily lives—such as moving to a new home or alterations in feeding schedules—can trigger anxiety. 

6. Medical-related Anxiety:

Pets can experience anxiety related to medical procedures, vet visits, or medication administration. Dogs may resist entering clinics, and cats might become aggressive when given medication. 

Common symptoms of anxiety in pets 

Before we get to the ways anxiety can be managed, we need to understand how we can figure out if your pet is anxious about something. When it comes to your pet, you have to solely rely on your observation skills to analyze their behavior and draw accurate conclusions. Any unusual behavior is not normal; there’s something that triggers that behavior that we probably don’t understand. So here are some commonly observed behaviors that indicate the possibility of your pet being anxious. 

  • Being aggressive
  • Peeing or pooping inside the home
  • Drooling and gasping
  • A hostile attitude, especially towards other dogs & humans
  • Depression
  • Overreacting or making loud noises 
  • Speeding up way too much 
  • Uneasiness
  • Following people around the house 
  • Repeating an action ( for example, repeatedly barking, biting their tail, etc.) 

How can you manage pet anxiety effectively? 

We all need a little help when we are anxious. Your pet needs it too. Below are some of the most effective ways to manage pet anxiety.

  • Calming Supplements

Calming an anxious cat or dog takes a lot of time and effort. Something that works for your dog may not work for others. There’s a lot of trial and error involved. But if you are seeking results, nothing works better than calming supplements for dogs and cats. These supplements contain ingredients that help calm your pet’s nerves, restore their normal heart rate, and encourage normal behavior. Tryptophan supplements are well known to induce calmness.  

These supplements don’t have to be taken daily; you can even give one dose before a stressful or triggering event. For example, if your pet has separation anxiety, giving them supplements a few minutes before leaving the house can ensure that they behave calmly until you are back. Similarly, for pets with travel anxiety, having one dose before the ride might be enough. 

  • Set a Routine

Animals are comfortable with routine. So set one. Decide when to sleep and play and when you’ll be in the office and back home. Once they get used to a routine, they can slowly start feeling reassured that their parents will be back home soon. 

  • Pet Exercises 

Pets love exercising and playing around with you. It lowers their anxiety gradually. You can perform simple exercises with them, or you could hire a professional for exercises that focus on reducing stress, anxiety, and depression. 

  • Address their Fear & Support Them 

Something that you can do from your side is to acknowledge their fear and be with them to support them. If they are trembling or making loud noises, sit with them and assure them that they are safe. Do what feels right and give your best. 

  • Behavioral Training

Behavioral training for pets with anxiety involves a systematic approach to help them cope with their fears and worries. Through positive reinforcement techniques, gradual exposure, and desensitization, pets learn to confront anxiety-inducing situations in a controlled and less overwhelming manner. Consulting with a professional animal behaviorist or trainer can provide tailored strategies to address specific anxiety triggers and ensure the best results.

Wrapping Up 

The enigma of pet anxiety is complex but curable. Understanding its origins in fear and identifying signs like aggression or unease are the initial steps. From separation and noise to social and travel anxiety, our companions endure a spectrum of emotional turmoil. As pet parents, you want to give your pet the best life possible, and managing their anxiety is part of that. Take it slow and work with them to manage their anxiety rather than rushing it.