An anxious cat or dog may vocalise more and display undesirable behaviours, such as over-grooming and being destructive. Anxiety can be caused by many different factors - genetics, early life experiences, changes to their routine and environment, loud noises, or separation from their humans.
Cat and dog anxiety is stressful, making your precious pet fearful of everyday situations. Our pets are naturally hardwired to experience fear as it enables them to act quickly when they are in danger. This survival response focuses the mind, and prepares the body, to fight, freeze, or flight (run away). However, when this fear is being felt when no real danger exists, it becomes a problem.
Minimising and avoiding potential triggers is the best way you can help reduce anxiety.
The most common signs of anxiety in cats and dogs include:
Cats are mostly independent and enjoy quiet time away from us, but dogs are pack animals and need company. The good news is you can train your dog to minimise their separation anxiety.
Desensitise them to you leaving so they become calm, comfortable, and confident that you will return. Pretend to get ready to leave, then stay and sit with them. Progress this to leaving the house for 10 minutes then return, 1 hour then return, and so forth. The key is to always return so they can learn to trust that they won't be abandoned.
Reward them when you leave, with a treat or special toy to keep them occupied. Only allow your pet to access that toy when you’re leaving and returning. Anti-anxiety wraps, beds, calming scents and medication are also available.
It can be hard to pinpoint an anxiety trigger but bear in mind, cats love their creature comforts,. They hate changes in routine and are not fans of intruders through their cat flap, dogs wandering onto their section, or humans visiting their home. A few tips to help calm and reduce cat anxiety include:
Disclaimer: This article provides general information only. It is not intended as medical or health advice and should not be relied on as a substitute for consultation with a qualified healthcare professional who understands your pet's individual needs.