Pets bred for domestication have different stress sources than their untamed equals, but their common origins carry common solutions to their anxieties. Identifying the causes of those stresses works towards helping alleviate the tension. Understanding the effects of stress and recognizing how it is exhibited will help monitor the progress of the animal’s health. Practical adjustments and veterinary assistance can bring relaxation and comfort to their maligned state. Pets suffer from their own traumas and stresses as much as they may help us relieve ours, and our awareness of their hardships will help our sympathetic desire to care for them.
Identify Causes of Pet Stress
While domesticated animals experience a different array of stress factor than their wild counterparts. Daily stress factors, anxiety and changes in environment can take their toll on your pet health as well as their behavior. As their human “parents” we can help by identifying and controlling to the best of our abilities these stress triggers.
Some triggers include the introduction of a new member of the family, whether it stands on two legs or four! New visitors to the household can cause your pet to momentarily feel unsafe in their usual environment, where they know every smell, noise and person. Separation from their home or human family members, traveling, being caged, and a trip to the vet, may also cause stress levels to heighten. Also, loud noises, such as, the garbage trucks, thunderstorms, and fireworks can cause your pet’s to become scared and stressed.
There are also physical signs that indicate your pet may be stressed. A cat that excessively grooms itself, a dog that becomes abnormally vocal, a bird that constantly bobs its head up and down, and a rabbit that chews incessantly without swallowing are all signs of an over-abundance of hormones needing release. Studies have shown that animals can stress-eat as well, craving their versions of comfort food, causing a perceived lack of appetite when served their regular food. Restlessness, pacing, and yawning are also physical trademarks of stress. Physiological displays of stress include dilated pupils, diarrhea, and lack of bowel control, shedding, trembling and muscle tension.
Emotional reactions accompany elevated tension levels as well. Signs of withdrawal, such as isolation, avoidance, and hiding show the pet’s concerns with the circumstances. Fluctuations in composure, such as moodiness, restlessness, clinginess, irritability, or whining reveal emotional discomfort. Aggressive behavior, such as growling, hissing, nipping, pecking, or scratching betray the unsteadiness of emotional pain.
Practical Adjustments and Veterinary Assistance
Domestication brings challenges along with its benefits. Human affection and timely intervention are advantageous for both pet and owner. At the same time, a pet may have difficulty adapting to human life patterns and customs, and an owner may face a learning curve regarding how to properly care for the pet on a daily basis. Exercise, mental stimulation, consistent boundaries, a steady routine, human presence, personality traits, and even massages can help a pet get settled into the life provided for it. Exposure to balanced levels of stress and excitement promote health and train the pet’s body to handle stress-inducing hormones efficiently, equipping it to better handle and recover from situations that require intense, acute reactions.
Playtime both produces stress and relieves it. Circumstances that cause high levels of stress can be followed by a balanced amount of exercise to help the body utilize its chemical energy. The transition from a sedentary state to a state of motion causes the release of stress hormones; balanced amounts of play at appropriate times prevent over-loading the animal’s body with adrenaline.
Providing set boundaries establish the animal’s natural sense of belonging in a very unnatural environment. Consistent physical boundaries for food, water, sleeping, and waste elimination keep the pet free of worry. Behavioral limits remind the pet that its true alpha is its owner. Defending those boundaries is equally important; a lack of follow-through will only cause confusion and increase the animal’s anxiety.
The owner’s presence in itself provides stability and security. If the owner will be gone for an extended period and the pet will be subjected to unfamiliar routines, it will need time to adjust upon the owner’s return. Interaction will re-solidify the bond the animal has with the owner when it sees that the disruption has ended and normalcy has been restored.
Personality traits must be accounted for. An animal shy by nature will act out in a crowded room. A friendly pet will seek attention from other people and animals. Some need certain circumstances to eat, sleep, or perform other basic functions anxiety-free. Accommodating these specific circumstances can provide security as well.
Veterinary check-ups are extremely important. Monitoring the progress of old wounds, general health issues from age, and basic reviews of the animal’s health can assure that its immune system is functioning properly instead of being compromised by hormonal redirects of blood flow to other areas of the body. Pets who do suffer from stress may need dietary supplements, such as Pet Naturals’ Calming Chews and Crisps, available for dogs, cats, and rabbits, or HomeoPet Anxiety Relief, which is a safe and natural homeopathic liquid given to your pet to promote calmness.to help them cope, whether temporarily or on a long-term basis. A veterinarian’s advice should be sought for treating a pet with symptoms of high level stress.
Relationships with pets improve the quality of life for both the human and the animal. Just as they help with our day to day stress levels, we must care theirs.