Our pets can be just as affected by stress as we are. In fact, sometimes our stress can leech off onto them. Animals can also get stressed out by changes to environment or routine. Some animals also exhibit separation anxiety when you leave for work or a trip. And when pets have to cope with stress, that can often lead to unusual or unwanted behaviors.
When your pet starts to behave out of character, it’s a sign that you should get to the vet, because changes in behavior might have psychological or phsiological components that are not always easy to discern without medical help. Maybe your cat is peeing on the sofa because she’s stressed from the new baby. Or, she might have a urinary tract infection that requires antibiotics. A vet helps you know for sure.
Your pet doesn’t have to be tearing up the furniture or peeing indiscriminately to be stressed. Here are some other cues:
- Over- or under-grooming
- Drastic change in appetite (both refusing to eat or ravenous eating)
- Clinginess or hiding
No matter what, definitely get your pet checked. And if it is stress? Then what?
Keeping pets active and engaged is important. Walking your dog, playing in the yard, and giving them toys are all part of mental health. Your cats need attention, too! Just because they’re more aloof than dogs doesn’t mean they don’t need attention or love.
Petting your animals is also important. It calms them down and feels good! And it just might help you manage your own anxiety, too.
Don’t forget that your own issues can seep into the household. If you’re under a lot of stress, look for ways to address your own anxieties to help keep them from your animals.
Want more information? Check out these great resources!
“Is Your Pet Stressed” by Jennifer Larson
“Top 5 Signs of Stress in Pets” by Sandy Robins