Does your pet behave out of character sometimes? Have the neighbors complained about your pet’s behavior when you are not at home? Anxiety in pets is just as common as it is in us humans. Our animals can’t tell us if they are anxious or stressed, so it is up to us to identify the signs and do something about them.
Here are a few ideas to soothe anxiety in pets and boost their moods:
- Behavioral Therapy
If your pet is acting out due to anxiety, you can take them to a behavioral therapist for help. It is essential to understand that this type of therapy is not obedience school. Instead, it focuses more on finding what triggers anxiety in your pet to improve the relationship between you and them. The therapist will ask you various questions to further understand the environment of the pet. Once they have insights into the situation, they will recommend the best course of action.
- Distraction and Redirection
Do particular situations trigger your animal’s anxiety? Fireworks, heavy winds or storms are common culprits for setting our pets off. Try distracting them from what is happening outside. By getting your pet to focus on something they know and enjoy, you should be able to minimize the stress they feel. Play fetch, give them a toy that offers mental stimulation or practice new and old tricks. Don’t forget the tasty rewards though!
- Physical and Mental Exercise
Sometimes, an animal’s stress can be a lack of mental stimulation or physical activity. Exercise can be a great way to ease anxiety in pets daily. Taking your dog for a walk gives them the chance to burn off energy that otherwise would make their anxiousness worse. They also receive the mental stimulation of exploring (and smelling) the great outdoors.
Another effective way to exercise your dog’s mind is to give them a puzzle toy. Dogs get just as tired from 15 minutes of brain games as they do from a 30-minute walk.
The extra time your pet spends with you by their side may also lessen their separation anxiety. Being around pets can also help humans feel better, so it is a win-win.
- Dog-Appeasing Pheromone (DAP)
When female dogs lactate, they produce a pheromone that intensifies the bond between mother and pup. This pheromone has a calming effect, giving it its name, the “Dog Appeasing Pheromone (DAP).”
Scientists have synthetically replicated it to be applied on collars, droplets dispensers, shampoos and more. The chemical affects puppies positively and may help treat anxiety in adult dogs too. It is odorless to humans, so you don’t need to worry about strange smells indoors.
- Use a Thundershirt
Some dog owners use tight-fitting, slightly weighted Thundershirts to reduce their pets’ anxiety during stressful situations. This shirt acts as a pressure wrap that mimics a hug, intending to make the dog feel more secure. As you have probably guessed, the garment designed with thunderstorms in mind but its use is not limited to them.
Thundershirts do not work for all dogs, so their effectiveness may have more to do with your dog’s personality.
- Make a Nest
Making a comfortable nest for your pet is pretty much like giving your dog or cat a safe space of their own. You may have noticed that it circles and scratches the spot where it wants to lie down before your animal goes to sleep. Such nesting behavior is instinctive and it is something that dogs, cats and other animals have done for millennia.
Your pet’s nest should include a bed made of soft, comfortable material that is easy to keep clean. A calm dog bed or pet hut can be a great option for animals that like to burrow. The enclosure of a donut cuddler bed, for example, helps pets feel safe and secure.
Add in a few favorite toys and an old item of your clothing that is impregnated with your scent, such as an old t-shirt. That way, your pet will have the reassuring scent of their human companion even when you are not around.
- A Massage
If you have ever had a massage, you know how de-stressing they can be. What you may not know is that animals appreciate a relaxing massage as much as we do. Use long, slow, smooth strokes to calm your dog or cat and you will soon see their muscles relax.
- Bath and Groom
Your bog or cat is possibly restless, licking, panting, and stressed because they are uncomfortable. Pets have allergies, just like us. Make sure to examine your pet’s coat and skin often for any signs of irritation. Brush through their coat and if you see signs of irritation, try bathing them with a soothing shampoo and conditioner.
It is easy to feel down or worried when your pet is anxious or shows symptoms linked to stress. Fortunately, in most cases, you can help them relax, shift focus and feel less anxious. This may take time and you may need to try a few different methods to get results but your pet will thank you for it.
In the comment section below, let us know how you deal with pets facing stress and anxiety.