Believe it or not, our pets often suffer from the same everyday stresses that people do.
While people have ways to deal with stress, pets aren’t so lucky. As we head into the unpredictable and unprecedented times, here are six ways to lower our pet’s stress levels during difficult times.
Recognize indicators that your pet is stressed.
The first thing we can do to reduce stress in pets is to recognize that stress is a problem. The signs of pet stress and anxiety are often subtle. So, pay close attention to small clues that may indicate that your pet’s stress level is elevated. Some of these clues are:
• Shaking or pacing
• Yawning, drooling, or excessive licking
• Changes to posture body language
• Excessive shedding
• Changes in bodily functions
• Bad behavior
Implement physical activity.
One of the best ways to reduce pets stress is through consistent and daily exercise. Walking, trips to the park, playing, swimming, or any other form of physical activity will not only reduce your dog’s daily stress level but will help them to live a longer and healthier life.
Of course, it’s tough to slap a leash onto your cat and take them for a walk, so you may have to get a little more creative with physical activity ideas. Some ideas include:
• Supervised outdoor playtime.
• Invest in a cat tower.
• Have some fun with laser pointers.
• Create a feline agility course.
• Get some cat toys that encourage activity such as a cat wand, treat dispenser, or cat tunnel.
Encourage mental stimulation.
In addition to physical activity, mental stimulation is vital for stressed pets. Think of some creative ways to stimulate your pet’s brain so they can take the focus of the stress. According to Cesar, the dog whisperer, some things you can do to challenge your pets’ mind are:
• Learn a new trick.
• Play interactive games such as pet puzzles or dominos.
• Create live interactive games like scavenger hunts or hide ‘n seek.
• Socialize with other people and pets.
• Rotate old and new toys.
Create a soothing environment.
Create a soothing atmosphere for your stressed pet with calming background noises like classical music. Implement some low lighting and environmental scents to make them feel safe, secure, and peaceful.
Utilize security items.
Crates, security blankets, thunder shirts, and personal toys provide a sense of comfort for stressed-out pets. Try to use items that already contain your scent, perhaps a towel or blanket, which will make pets feel even more safe and secure.
Lead by example.
Attitude is everything, and if your pet is stressed or anxious, you must remain calm. Pets have keen senses and they can easily pick up on our emotions. If we become upset or stressed along with them, they’ll continue or amplify their stressed behavior. As we head into unknown and challenging territory this spring, we must stay calm and lead by example. Its what’s best for you and your pet!
It is important to remember that stress isn’t always bad. Fear is a stress-related emotion that prompts us and our pets to avoid potentially dangerous situations. So, while stress may be difficult, it can actually be a form of protection. Regardless, stress will always be a part of everyday life for us and our pets, so we have to learn how best to deal with it.
If your pet is signs of stress-related behaviors, contact a member of our team right away. We can assess your pet’s needs and, if necessary, refer your pet to a trained animal behaviorist who can help determine the cause of such disorders as stress, separation anxiety, and obsessive behavior. As a team, we can create a treatment plan that will provide the best outcome for both you and your pet.