Stress can affect our pets just as much as it can people and can stem from a variety of situations. Sometimes, a drastic change can lead to distress, such as moving to a new home or a beloved family member leaving for an extended period. For some pets, simply being left alone in the house is enough to cause them stress. Health problems or even medication can also contribute to increased stress rates. Your pet could even be responding to your own emotional state, leading them to become stressed. So, how can you identify if they’re in this state and what can you do? Read on to see how to tell if your dog is stressed and how to help them.
How To Tell If Your Dog Is Stressed: Some Common Symptoms
Stress can lead to a variety of behaviors in your pets. They can appear less energetic or playful and may refuse to eat. Other symptoms may include peeing or pooping inside or more/less frequently than normal. In highly distressed dogs, behaviors can also include pacing, panting, whimpering or whining, and/or licking themselves. Some pets may even become destructive, tearing up furniture or even pulling out their own fur. Other signs of distress may be clinginess or refusing to come out of a hiding spot.
Some Things You Can Do About You Pet’s Stress
First things first, ff your pet is showing any number of these symptoms, its best to take them to the vet to rule out any underlying medical conditions. If it turns out that your pet is indeed suffering from stress, there are a few options you can try. One of the best things you can do to alleviate your pet’s anxiety is to give them regular exercise. The right type and amount of exercise can vary greatly by breed, age, and overall health. However, at the very least, walking and actively playing with your pet once a day can do a lot to reduce and even prevent stress. For the more active breeds, you can try teaching them higher-level tricks or enrolling them in agility training to help expel both physical and mental energy.
A Few Things To Consider…
While many owners excel in showing their pets affection, many underestimate the value of structure and how it can contribute to a calmer, less stressed pet. For example, many dogs become anxious whenever their owner leaves the home. Other situations that may trigger states of distress are thunderstorms/fireworks, crate training, moving to a new location or bringing a new family member or pet into the home. The important thing during these instances is to maintain a calm energy and associate this change with positive dynamics. In the case of leaving the home, owners may not realize they are getting the dog worked up and instead should be calmly showing them that leaving is no big deal. If they are crate training, reward them with a treat every time they go in and don’t get them excited with they are let out. In some cases, you may want to consider hiring a professional trainer if your dog is stressed. This can help you train and guide them into a calmer state of mind.
It’s also important to keep in mind your own emotional state of being. Pets are very intuitive and can react strongly to our own distress. If you’re finding that you are struggling with your own stress, find some activities that can not only help you decompress but also bond with your pet. Go for a walk or play with them in the backyard. Even something as simple as cuddling on the couch can do wonders for regrounding you and your pet.
When Training Isn’t Enough
There are times where our pets may need a little more assistance in mitigating their stress. While pharmaceuticals can be used to address anxiety in pets, there are a number of natural and holistic alternatives that are worth trying first. Calming treats with ingredients such as tryptophan, St. John’s Work, Valerian Root, and Chamomile are a great solution for pets. And CBD oil for dogs has become a popular recourse for many owners as well. Be sure to do your research first to ensure that the oil you purchase has the right quality and concentration of CBD oil.
It’s important to pay attention to your dog’s behavior and to determine what is impacting their quality of life. In most cases, there are options for owners whose dog is stressed. And if your pet is in need of company or exercise, our team is here to help. Reach out today or visit us online to learn more about our pet sitting and dog walking services!