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Dealing with A Pet's Anxiety

Dogs and cats can go through bouts of anxiety much like people do. In some cases it can be generalized anxiety, however certain events or conditions can trigger or worsen anxiety in your pets.

What’s the Problem?

The first thing to do is identify what is causing your pet to feel anxious. While sometimes pets experience generalized anxiety with no specific cause, changes in environment or medical issues can produce anxiety in pets. If you recently moved homes, had anyone move in or out of the home (including a new pet or a new baby), or your furry friend has had any surgeries or medical complications, that could be a potential reason for your pets anxious behavior.

What to Do

Avoid yelling at or punishing your pet for their anxious behavior. It’s rarely something they can control, and will likely make their anxiety worse. If their anxiety is being caused by something specific, desensitizing them and counter-conditioning with positive reinforcement (rewarding good behavior rather than punishing bad behavior) are good ways to get your pet to be more comfortable and adjust to the situation. If you’re unsure how to go about conditioning your pet, it is recommended that you bring in a certified positive-reinforcement trainer to help manage their anxiety and explore your training options.

In addition to these treatment options, a pheromone diffuser can be used to relieve their anxiety. This can create a calm and safe environment for your pet and help your other treatment options work better.

When to Visit your Veterinarian

Whether your pet is experiencing generalized or specific anxiety a trip to the vet to come up with a treatment plan that works best for your pet is never a bad option. Anxiety in your pets may be caused by undetected or untreated medical conditions, and your vet can rule those out. Oftentimes if your pet’s anxiety is generalized your vet can prescribe medication formulated specifically for animals that can help relieve their anxiety and improve their mood.