Stress on Pets

Golden Retriever Dog cold convalescing in bed

Your pooch is pampered, and your cat lives the Life of Riley, so how could stress be an issue for your pets? According to Cat Behavior Associtates1, every living thing is capable of experiencing stress. Anxiety and tension can be worse for your pets than for people because they can’t tell you what is stressing them out. They count on you to recognize when they’re stressed and to take care of the situation.

Signs of Stress

Your pets can’t verbally tell you when they feel stressed, but they can tell you by the way they act. Pet MD lists signs to watch for that reveal that your dog2 or cat3 is stressed. Most of the symptoms are the same for both though there are almost twice as many signs of feline stress. Both dogs and cats may experience digestive issues such as constipation or diarrhea, and you may notice that your furry companion seems to have lost his appetite, sleeps more and has taken to hiding or isolating himself. Just like humans, stressed out cats and dogs can become short-tempered, lashing out in an aggressive manner at humans and other animals. Also, a stressed out dog or cat may start eliminating in unacceptable places. Using your favorite easy chair or your Great Aunt Sophie’s area rug as a potty is a red flag behavior that something is wrong.

Feline-Specific Stress Signs

Cats tend to be clean freaks, so it might be difficult to determine if your kitty is grooming excessively. However, that is a behavior to watch for as a symptom of stress. Compulsive licking to the point of hair loss and even skin sores is another serious sign that something is bothering Bootsy. Excessive scratching is a similar sign that indicates your cat is battling anxiety and nervous tension. Additionally, if your cat starts vocalizing a stream of panicked meows or a few long, drawn out ones, he might be telling you he’s stressed — especially if he wasn’t previously a chatty cat.

Ways to Deal

Just as with humans, stress can take a physical toll on cat health and dog health, too. Determine what’s causing your pet stress and try to eliminate it, if possible. Experts suggest pre-emptive treatment if you know something stressful will be happening, such as a move to a new house or an addition to the family. For example, get him used to the sound of a baby gurgling, crying and gooing and the smell of baby powder and baby lotion before the arrival of a new baby. Ohio State University4 suggests a pet health crate can be useful, too. It’s essentially a normal crate, but it will give your stressed pet a place to get away when he feels the need to be alone.

Make an Appointment for Veterinary Care

Even if you believe you’ve pinpointed the cause of your pet’s stress, it’s a good idea to ask your vet for her opinion. There’s always the chance that the signs and the stress itself are caused by a health issue, and it’s important to obtain veterinary care for any health concern as soon as possible. For mental or physical pet health care, the veterinary clinic is a useful resource. Your vet has seen it all and can offer solutions you haven’t thought of.

1 http://www.catbehaviorassociates.com/is-your-cat-stressed-out/
2 http://www.petmd.com/dog/centers/nutrition/signs-your-dog-is-stressed
3 http://www.petmd.com/cat/centers/nutrition/slideshows/signs-your-cat-might-be-stressed
4 https://indoorpet.osu.edu/cats/feline-life-stressors