Detecting and Coping With Stress

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Sandy and dog

Today we have a special guest blogger! Take it away Sandy!

April is National Stress Awareness Month. And its not only people who suffer from stress, cats and dogs do too.

While your pet’s personality plays an important role in how they react to different situations. Some pets get destructive chewing things around the house, others make themselves physically ill and even pull their hair out. So it’s really important to be in tune with your favorite canine or feline so that you can pick up on the situation and rectify things as soon as possible.

Here are some typical signs of stress in dogs:

  • Excessive barking both inside and outside the home
  • Accidents around the house
  • Sudden displays or 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.
  • Destructive behavior such as chewing furniture and other items in the home.

The causes of stress are varied too. Many dogs get stressed when left home alone for long hours and anxiety builds until you get back home. A new home or changes in the existing environment can also be triggers. So can a new baby or a new pet.

Cats also don’t all show the same signs of stress. And because many felines often hide or sleep out of sight, it can be more difficult to detect stress and increased levels of anxiety. Sometimes the level of stress is gradual so it’s important to be vigilant of your pet at all times.

In fact, all kinds of typical everyday activities can stress felines such as:

  •  Loud music played constantly
  •  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, vomit and diarrhea. Your veterinarian should check anything that you consider abnormal.

A ThunderShirt for either your dog or your cat can help reduce anxiety levels. The garment works on the principle mothers use to swaddle and comfort children. Pheromone sprays such as the ThunderSpray mimics a mother’s natural pheromones and has a soothing calming effect. Such a product can be used in conjunction with a garment, or sprayed around the home as well as in travel carriers.

When it comes to dogs, ensuring that your daily routine remains constant can help a lot. 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 having a crate and crate training your pooch 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 its really important to ascertain the real cause of the stress and anxiety. Some cats simply don't get along 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. It's a good idea to increase the vertical space in your home too with fabulous decorative cat trees and kitty condos. Engage them in regular playtime and give them puzzle feeders to keep them busy. Dogs love puzzle feeders and puzzle toys too.

And its important to remember that dogs and cats arte 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. And put on that ThunderShirt!

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