Anxiety in Dogs & Cats - Treatment Tips & Advice

Treatment for Anxiety in Dogs & Cats

Whether it is separation related, noise associated or attached to a specific phobia…anxiety can affect our pet similar to the way it can affects us.

Put very simply, anxiety is a feeling of distress that animals (and people!) may experience in response to various triggers.

Toileting in the house, destructiveness, excessive barking, digging or pacing and escape attempts are not always the signs of a naughty dog. Animals can display many indicators of distress and anxiety, most of which vary depending on the animal.

Anxiety symptoms in pets

A few common changes that may indicate an anxious pet include:

  • Excessive licking of lips
  • Inappropriate panting
  • Furrowed expressions
  • Excessive yawning
  • Turning away
  • Crouching
  • Being hypervigilant
  • Sudden disinterest in food

Every animal is different though, so your dog or cat may display only a few, or several, of these signs.

How to help dogs and cats with anxiety

Tips from an anxious pet to their pet parent…

  • “I can sense your own stress so try to relax around me when I’m exposed to my stress triggers.”
  • “Reassure me gently; try not to fuss or I’ll just assume there’s something to be afraid of!”
  • “If I’m suffering from separation anxiety, help minimise my stress by establishing a daily routine around feeding, play and exercise so I develop a sense of normality.“
  • “When you make the noises that let me know you’re leaving the house, you’re also letting me know that you’re leaving ME. Cues such as jingling keys and the front door closing can cause me to start stressing, so try and desensitise me by repeating these cues when you’re NOT leaving, so it blurs the association.“
  • “I’m so clever I can learn to relax on cue! A ‘settle’ or ‘calm’ command (and a reward for when I actually do it!) will help me learn.”
  • “Try not to distract me with treats when I am very stressed, as I see this is as a reward for my behaviour.”

Are there products to help reduce anxiety?

Try this for your anxious dog:

The Thundershirt dog coat is designed to be worn in times of stress, like during a thunderstorm. Just like a big hug, it applies safe pressure to your pet and a drug-free way to help them relax.

Some animals have very severe anxiety that cannot always be addressed without the use of pet medication such as sedatives and anti-anxiety drugs.

Chat with your vet if you think your buddy might be a candidate for this type of anxiety treatment.

Try this for your anxious cat:

Anti-anxiety treatment for cats can include Pheromone products such as 'Adaptil' and 'Feliway' imitate the maternal pheromones a mother emits to calm her young. Available in collars, sprays or diffusers, pet parents have the option of using just one or a combination of the product to meet the needs of their anxious pet.

If your buddy requires continual assistance you may opt for a collar, or to use the spray on a bandanna tied loosely around your buddy’s neck. If your pet feels anxious in certain areas of the house, you may benefit with the use of a diffuser or by spraying the product in specific areas to encourage calm and tranquillity.

Anxiety can grow around the holidays

Loud noises, fireworks, lots of people around…all factors that can contribute to your pet’s anxiety during days of big celebration.

Minimise risks and take precautions with these few easy steps:

  • Make sure gates and doors are secure to prevent your buddy from escaping and the risk of being involved in a car accident.
  • Try to reduce loud noises by closing windows and doors and offering a distraction by switching on the TV or radio.
  • If you can, bring your buddy indoors where everything may seem a little less scary for them!
  • Providing lots of toys may give your buddy a pleasant distraction from their stress triggers.
  • Try to desensitise your pet to loud noises by playing audio of loud noises and rewarding them for their calm response. Start at low and slowly increase the volume if they tolerate it.

You can also try to desensitise your furry friend to loud noises by rewarding them for being calm in response to audio playback of noises – you can start at a low volume


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