Most people know this pandemic has affected our mental health in some way, less of us are aware that it will have also had an impact on our pets as well. They’re suddenly faced with a new reality, with different routines and less time alone. You must know how to ensure your pets are stress-free and happy.
The possibility of constant playtime activities could become nerve-racking for many pets. In fact, some cats and dogs could be even more stressed than we are right now.
With that in mind, below are some of the signs and causes of stress, as well as ways you can reduce it.
Some Symptoms of Pet stress
- Over-grooming like using excess pet/dog shampoo
- General detachment
- Changes in temperament
- Hiding from specific people/animals
- Changed location for bowel movements
- Excessive chewing/biting/digging
- Destructive tendencies
- Changed diet/eating habits
Early detection and treatment of pet stress are very important because they can be a precursor to other physical and mental diseases such as depression. So, if you notice any signs of stress in your pet, you should make an appointment to see your vet. If you like the idea of helping animals and want to learn how to treat pet stress yourself, you also can take a vet assistant course.
Otherwise, here are some of the reasons why pets feel stressed.
Once most pets get used to the sights, smells, and sounds of their household, they will become stressed whenever there are any major changes to it. This could be anything from a new guest in the house, loud construction noises next door, or another animal invading their space. So try to keep everything in their environment as normal and under control in order to create a calm and stress-free environment for your pets.
Pets, they’re just like us in many ways. Just like humans, pets are also very good at using intuition to sense emotions from our moods and then responding to them similarly. That’s why pets often get excited when we start running or jumping around. And with everything going on in the world, many of us are feeling even more stress and anxiety than usual which our pets are picking up.
So besides putting on a happy face around them, there are also a few other things you can do which can help reduce your pet’s stress. You should not crate your dog while at work.
Petting & massage
While giving your pet some physical affection like patting and stroking them will usually increase their happiness, it can also help relieve stress by calming their nerves and making them feel safe, content, and loved. Oh, and the bonus here for you is that giving your pet plenty of physical affection also makes you feel better too, by decreasing your blood pressure and cortisol levels.
Playtime with toys
You must know how to ensure your pets are stress-free and happy by playing with them. For most pets who are suffering from stress or anxiety, giving them plenty of exercise will crucially provide a physical release for them to work it all off. Some animals will also need added mental stimulation as well as exercising during their playtime. That’s why it’s always a good idea to provide pets with toys they can play with on their own to keep their minds busy and decrease any feelings of boredom.
One of the best ways to reduce pet stress is by giving them a safe place of their own to retreat to and find comfort whenever things get too much for them. Add some creature comforts inside cat or dog bed or retreat, such as their favourite toys and a security blanket. And if your pet suffers from separation anxiety, provide them with an aural safe space while you’re away by leaving the TV or radio on for them to hear the sounds of people.
Even though most pets will seem extremely happy about us working from home every day, internally they might be quite anxious. As lock-down gradually eases, everything slowly returns to normal, and you start working from the office again, separation anxiety can cause even more stress for pets.
While every cat and dog will experience stress differently, it’s you who knows your pet the best. By identifying what’s causing them stress, you can start to address the problem and hopefully eliminate the issue altogether. Keep an eye out for any of the stress signs above, so you can help them feel happy, content, and safe again.