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What you need to know about pets and anxiety

May 2, 2019

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Many of us are all too familiar with how anxiety feels. You might feel anxious when faced with a problem at work, before taking a test, or before making an important decision. Most humans get anxious, in fact, 30% of South Africans suffer from anxiety disorders. But what about the pooches and kitties? Do they also experience feelings of anxiety and fear? Fur-sure!

Different things can cause anxiety in pets. The 3 most common causes of anxiety are:

 

    1. Fear

 

 

Being a scaredy-cat is okay. Just like us humans, pets can also fear loud noises, strange objects (and people), new or unknown environments or specific situations like a visit to the human with the white jacket and the cold metal object around his neck.

 

    2. Separation

 

 

Separation anxiety affects around 14% of dogs and cats. Pets with separation anxiety are unable to find comfort when they are left alone or separated from their loving companions. This anxiety can be identified by undesirable behaviours like urinating in the house or destroying furniture and excessive barking.

Take note: Don’t scold your pets for being naughty. You could be to blame for their disruptive behaviour. Instead, be there for your pets in distress by giving them some much needed TLC.

 

   3. Ageing

 

 

When your pets are in their golden years, they might suffer from cognitive dysfunction syndrome (CDS), which may affect their memory and awareness. This may lead to anxiety in senior pooches and kitties.

Symptoms of Anxiety

 

So how can you tell if your dog has anxiety? There are several symptoms to look out for:

  • Aggression
  • Urinating or defecating in the house
  • Excessive drooling
  • Destructive behaviour
  • Depression
  • Excessive barking
  • Pacing
  • Restlessness
  • Repetitive or compulsive behaviours

 

How to help pets with anxiety:

 

  • Take your pet to the vet. The vet will come up with a treatment plan through a combination of training, preventative strategies, and in some cases, medications.
  • Regular exercise will help your pets combat anxiety. Take your dog for a daily walk and play with your kitty outside for at least 20 minutes per day to prevent any behavioural problems.
  • Give your pets balanced meals and enough water. Proper nutrition is super important for your pet’s overall health. Find feeding guidelines here: Pet feeding
  • Stay with them if possible. Your company will have a reassuring effect. Talk to them calmly and don’t scold them for their undesirable behaviour.

 

The most important thing to remember is to be there for your pets in their time of distress as they are always there for you when you need their furry cuddles the most. Pets also help humans to combat anxiety by offering emotional support and companionship which reduces stress. Be there for each other and experience the healing effects of a beautiful bond.

Sources

  • https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/treating-dog-anxiety
  • /https://absolutepets.com/blogs/articles/how-to-help-your-pets-cope-with-anxiety-and-stress
  • https://africacheck.org/reports/do-a-third-of-south-africans-really-suffer-from-mental-illnesses/

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