Dog

Pet Anxiety Awareness Month

Sindi Barrios

Recognise any of these symptoms? Sudden mood changes, spraying, loss of appetite, scratching or over-grooming? They are all signs of pet anxiety. Signs your pet could be stressed or worried.

If you think your pet is suffering from anxiety, have a long hard think about any recent events or changes to your lifestyle, no matter how trivial, to see if you can identify any possible cause.

First, help them cope. Trial a few pet calming products, which have been designed to help pets cope.  Find one that works for them. These all take “the edge off” any situation, but different products suit different pets. There are sprays, diffusers, chews and capsules to sprinkle on food. These will help them cope, while you work out the longer-term remedy.

Don’t act in haste. You’ll want to re-assure and make them feel loved, but too much attention can negatively reinforce stress-related behaviour – and link fuss or reward to acting anxiously.

Pets love a routine and the most fractional changes can throw them – even getting up or arriving home 10 mins later can bring on anxiety. If you can change back – do. If the new routine is unavoidable, stick with it and make it the new normal. They’ll eventually accept it and relax.

It may not be something you’ve done that’s upset them. A neighbour with loud power tools or a fox that wanders through the garden could be it. Or that overly-friendly new dog you’ve started meeting on walks. If you can change it (block the fence where the fox gets in) – do so. And if you play some calming music while there is drilling, that might help them too.

Pets can cope with change, they just need a little time, a little help and a lot of love to see them through. Be there for them this Pet Anxiety Awareness Month.

If in doubt contact your veterinary practice

And always keep your vet's phone number handy - just in case!