Having a pet companion is a great way to reduce stress, but your furry friend might be suffering from anxiety too. Monitoring your pet’s stress and taking preventative measures is crucial for keeping them happy and healthy.
1. Recognize the Signs of Stress
Have you recently noticed that your pet is shaking more than usual? Has their DNA test come back negative for chihuahua genes? Unfortunately, that may mean that your fluffy friend is dealing with some anxiety. Pets are notorious for hiding their distress, so many of the signs are overlooked. It’s important to closely monitor your pet’s behavior, as any change could indicate distress. Some common symptoms include:
- Vomiting or Diarrhea
- Shaking or sweating
- Excessive barking
- Bald patches or sores from over grooming
- Eating non-food items, a.k.a. pica
- Changes in appetite or weight
Signs of stress differ between species, and even across their respective breeds. Researching the signs of stress that apply to your pet’s species and breed will equip you to identify changes in their specific behaviors so you can give them much-needed TLC.
Sometimes these symptoms will resolve on their own, but should the behavior continue over a prolonged period of time, you should begin taking steps to address your pet’s stress.
2. Give Them a Spot They Can Call Their Own
It’s important to give your pet their own “corner of the castle” in order to relax and ease daily stress. Especially if your pet suffers from anxiety, creating a comfortable “panic area” trains them to self-cope.
Create a space filled with their favorite things:
- A bed or soft pillow to sleep on
- Food and water
- Some treats
- Their favorite toys
- Somewhere to use the bathroom (should their anxiety get them weak in the bladder)
If your pet prefers to hide or be alone when spooked, try draping a blanket over their cage or setting up a fort-styled hideout. Make sure this area is free from human traffic so that the hustle and bustle won't disturb them.
3. Keep Their Mind Active
Mental stimulation is just as important as physical stimulation when it comes to your pet’s long-term health and cognitive abilities. Boredom can significantly contribute to your pet’s anxiety or unhappiness. In order to relieve this boredom, you can use special toys, such as puzzle toys with hidden treats, or play games, like hiding their toys around your home. By having these kinds of activities readily available, your pet can channel their energy into dopamine production! Cognitive toys are easy to DIY using commonly found items around the house. Your pet may not understand the activity right away, but with a little patience and training your pet will begin to gravitate towards these activities to help with their boredom.
4. Invest In Special Treats
A recent saving grace for owners with high-anxiety pets is CBD treats! Although cannabis is toxic to pets, CDB is a derivative of the hemp plant, containing a non-toxic amount of THC. CDB is completely safe for pets to ingest, and some even swear by CDB treats during the tumultuous firework season of the summer months. Thanks to recent innovations within the CBD/hemp industry, these stress-relieving treats come in many different forms (from oils to physical treats), flavors, and potencies.
CBD also helps with pain, seizures and acts as an anti-inflammatory for both humans and their animal companions.
CBD acts as an excellent alternative to sedatives, which are sometimes given to pets that struggle with anxiety. Pet owners should try to avoid over-sedating pets as it could cause harmful mental and physical long-term effects.
5. Keep Their Grooming A Priority
It’s no secret that pets require a lot of attention, whether it’s dangling a mouse toy or going for a long walk in the park. Equally crucial to playtime and affection is consistently keeping up with their grooming.
All pets require different types of grooming based on their breed and hair type. Long-haired animals require more brushing and deshedding to keep their fur from getting matted. When fur becomes tangled and matted, it could pose a threat to your pet as they are more likely to develop skin conditions or overheat. Short-haired animals also require brushing and de-shedding, however not as frequently.
Nail trimmings are also a must for pets. Nails growing too long could cause your pet significant discomfort and pain when walking. In some cases, letting the nails grow too long could result in ingrown nails; in severe enough cases, corrective surgery may be required.
Unfortunately, dental hygiene is one of the least prioritized aspects of grooming, in part because of how difficult it can be. Making sure your pet’s pearly whites stay in pristine condition prevents long-term issues that could result in various diseases and teeth pulling.
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