cute dog with funny face.

While we don’t often think about our pets being stressed, stress can definitely impact our animal friends. While your dog or cat may not be worried about the big project due at work next week, they certainly have concerns within their world. Do you know if your pet is stressed? If, so, how can you help? Join Volunteer Veterinary Hospital in exploring how stress can affect pet wellness.

Pets and Stress

As your pet enjoys a leisurely day of napping in bed, gazing out the window, and enjoying the premium pet food you supply on demand, it can be hard to fathom them being stressed. 

In some ways, though, just by bringing pets into our household, we cause stress. Our human habits can disrupt their natural behaviors and habits. Stress in a home may come from:

  • Changes in day-to-day routine
  • New additions to the house (pets, children, significant others, even a new sofa)
  • Disturbing noises or smells
  • Moves
  • Conflict with other pets in the home
  • Not enough stimulation or exercise

Stress in pets can also come from being sick or even from human issues going on in our homes. Our animals are often very in tune with our own emotions.

The Effects of Stress on Pets

Pet wellness and stress go hand-in-hand. Animals who are under stress may exhibit a variety of issues. 

Stress in pets can cause:

  • Behavioral changes
  • Litter box issues or loss of housetraining
  • Obsessive licking or chewing
  • Increased aggression
  • Lowered immune function
  • Decreased healing
  • Change in social interactions
  • Digestive upset
  • Feline lower urinary tract disease

Pet Wellness and Stress

If you think that your pet may be under stress, it is important to address the cause quickly when possible. Helping a stressed pet isn’t always easy, but it is important to your pet’s wellness and worth the effort. 

Ways to reduce stress at home include:

  • Remove the stimulus (if possible): If there is an identifiable cause for your pet’s stress that can be removed, do your best to do so. While it may be easy enough to tell your sister she can’t bring her dog over for a visit, there are many issues that can’t be removed, though. You probably aren’t going to break up with your boyfriend or turn down a job promotion because your cat is upset.
  • Enrich your pet’s environment: Take time to be sure that your pet is getting exercise and social interaction on a daily basis. Be sure that cats have access to vertical space such as cat trees or shelves and can view the outdoors. Provide toys that are rotated regularly. Check out The Ohio State’s Indoor Pet Initiative for more ideas.
  • Provide routine: Do your best to give your pet a predictable day to day routine. Knowing when meal time, social time, and play times might be can help to reduce stress.  
  • Think pheromones: Synthetic pheromones such as Feliway for cats and Thunderease for dogs are designed to give your pet a sense of security and well-being. These products come in collars, plug-in diffusers, and sprays and can be very helpful for some cats.
  • Ask us about supplements — Products that offer some help for pets under stressful conditions exist. Always clear these types of supplements with us first to be sure that there are no contraindications.

Some pets may require prescription medications to relieve anxiety. While the above suggestions are often helpful, please schedule an appointment to discuss your options if your pet seems to need more.

A happy pet is a healthy pet, and we are happy to do anything we can to help alleviate your pet’s stress.