Most pet parents are aware that leaving pets home alone causes their pets to suffer from separation anxiety and stress. However, there are many more everyday factors and home situations, which cause pet stress too. April is stress awareness month. Here are some of the many other daily causes of stress in both cats and dogs.
Your pet’s personality plays an important role in how they react to different situations. For example, some dogs get very destructive chewing things around the house. Others make themselves physically ill, vomiting, even pulling their hair out. So it’s really important to be in tune with your fur kids so that you can pick up on the situation and rectify things as soon as possible.
Here are some of the most typical signs of stress in dogs:
- Destructive behavior such as chewing furniture and other items in the home.
- Excessive barking both inside and outside the home.
- Peeing and pooping around the house.
- Sudden displays of growing, snarling and even biting family members that your dog is normally affectionate towards.
- Physical signs of illness such as vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, skin allergies excessive licking and pulling out clumps of fur.
- Visits to the vet’s office.
The causes of stress are varied too. A lot has been written about separation anxiety in pets. There’s no doubt that when a pet is left home alone for long hours, anxiety builds until you get back home. But there are other reasons too such as a new home or changes in the existing environment that can also be triggers. Even workmen in the home for an extended period can cause pet stress. And so can a new baby or a new pet.
When it comes to felines, it can be more difficult to pick up signs of stress because many felines often hide or sleep out of sight as a normal occurrence. Sometimes the escalating level of feline stress is gradual. So it’s important to be vigilant of your feline at all times.
All kinds of typical everyday activities can stress felines such as:
- Loud music played constantly – especially heavy metal stuff!
- New furniture
- Repairs and maintenance being done around the house
- A barking dog or new pets
- New family members and even visitors
- A change of food or litter type
- A dirty litter box is a very common contributing factor too. Cats are very clean animals by nature.
- Visits to the vet’s office.
As with dogs, signs of stress in cats can include hiding for long periods, excessive grooming and chasing the tail, loss of appetite, vomiting and diarrhea. Thus it’s important to check out anything that appears abnormal with your veterinarian.
Animal Behaviorists such as Prof. Nicholas Dodman head of the small animal behavior clinic at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University in Grafton Massachusetts believe that garments such as the ThunderShirt (www.ThunderShirt.com) when worn by either cats or dogs can help reduce anxiety levels. The garment works on the principle mother’s use to swaddle and comfort babies and small children.
Calming collars, which are infused with natural calmatives such as lavender, are also stress relievers. So are pheromone sprays, which mimic the pheromones that both dogs and dogs give off naturally to ease anxiety in their young. Researchers also have discovered that cross-species pheromones work too. For example, androstenone a pheromone produced by the domestic pig during in courtship and social behaviors can have a positive effect on both dog and cat behavior. Such crossover calmatives are also available in spray form.
When it comes to dogs, daily exercise helps a lot as a stress reliever – as it does in people. Also try and establish a daily routine for your dog. And, if you have to move, once you are settled, it’s important to establish that routine once more.
Dogs also have a denning instinct and crate-training your pooch to be comfortable in a crate will give her a safe place to hang out. Be sure she has a nice cuddly blanket and her favorite toys inside too.
Because cats are such stoic creatures, it’s really important to ascertain the real cause of any stress and anxiety. Some cats simply don’t get a long with other cats in a multi-cat household and need to have their own space within the household to relax and feel at home. Illness and abuse can trigger stress too.
Try and prepare your feline for any major changes in a household such as a new baby. It’s really important that they have their own space and privacy within a home to escape normal household activities especially if there are young children. So it’s a good idea to increase the vertical space in your home too with fabulous decorative cat trees (www.Pettreehouses.com) and kitty condos. Excellent scratchers are also a great feline stress reliever such this Catalina design from Enchanted Home Pet. (www.EnchantedHomePet.com) Engage them in regular playtime and give them puzzle feeders to keep them busy. Dogs love puzzle feeders and puzzle toys too. (www.Kyjen.com)
And it’s important to remember that dogs and cats are not really party animals. So if you are having a large crowd over, confine them to a part of the home where they will not be disturbed during the festivities. They will be less stressed, and you will have peace of mind.