Pet Anxiety: How to Spot and Treat Anxiety in Your Pet - NYCM Insurance Blog

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Aug 23, 2021

Pet Anxiety: How to Spot and Treat Anxiety in Your Pet


When Covid-19 came, quarantine and remote work meant that many of us would be spending a lot more time at home. During that time, some of our furry friends may have grown more accustomed to that daily company. Now, with so many of us leaving the home office and re-entering the workplace, you may notice a shift in your pet’s disposition. Continue reading to learn more about pet anxiety and how to help them cope with the sudden change.

 

What Causes Pet Anxiety? 


Pet anxiety can form when an animal has a strong attachment to their owner. This bond can cause them to become distressed when they are separated from their owner. Pet anxiety generally develops when the owner is home with their pets for extended periods of time, and then that routine is changed. Other causes can include changes in a pet’s schedule or routine, changes in location, and the introduction of new people or animals.

 

How Can I Help Prevent Pet Anxiety? 


Preventing anxiety in any animal can be difficult, especially if the animal already has a set routine. With that being said, there are a few things you can do to help, if you happen to know a life-changing event will be coming up.

 

You’ll want to put a new schedule in place that your pet can expect to follow on a  day-to-day basis. This routine should be introduced slowly and should include specific times for feeding, activity, and outdoor exploration. You can use the breaks in between those times to encourage independent play. You will also want to use these times to practice leaving the house for short periods of time. This will help them get used to your absence. It's important to set your pet’s schedule around times when you will most likely be home. For example, if you know that you will be returning to the office in a few weeks and that you will be leaving for work at 7:30 am, you’ll want to feed, water, and let your dog out around 7:00 am. If you plan to be home from work around 5:00 pm, that’s when you’ll want to let them out and feed them again. Then you can play, go for a walk and have down time together in the evening. This set schedule will give your pet notice that you will be away, while assuring them that you will return and fulfill their needs.

 

Something to consider when working to prevent pet anxiety is socialization. This can be interaction with other animals, places, or people. This socialization can help to reduce the chance of a negative reaction when you are absent, as they will be more used to changes in their environment. Obedience training may also be a good option for you as this type of training can help with creating the foundation for a healthy relationship with your pet.

 

What Are the Symptoms of Pet Anxiety?


It’s important to know what signs or symptoms may be present in an animal that has anxiety. Knowing the signs can help you to better address their needs, as well as to prevent it from worsening.

 

Aggression

Signs of aggression can be a strong indicator of anxiety in your pet. This aggression may be directed towards other animals or even other people through barking or growling.

 

Personality Changes

Any behavior that is out of the norm in your pet may be linked to anxiety. Changes in behavior could include anything from excessive chewing (especially on items that they normally wouldn’t touch) to compulsively licking themselves and others.

 

Compulsive or Repetitive Behaviors

If your pet appears to be excessively shaking, drooling, panting, or pacing frequently, these are all indicators of stress and anxiety.

 

If your pet is showing signs of these symptoms, it’s best to first have them evaluated by a veterinarian. When discussing these concerns with your vet, it’s important to make sure they are aware of any changes in your pet’s routine so that they can make the proper recommendations.

 

How Can I Help My Pet with Anxiety?


Whether the anxiety stems from separation or a life-changing event, there are a few ways you can help your pet cope.

 

Seek Professional Advice

As previously mentioned, it's always a good idea to talk with your veterinarian if you notice any changes in your pet’s behavior. You can work together on a treatment plan that best fits your pet.

 

Avoid an Emotional “Goodbye” 

Research suggests that not saying goodbye to your pet can help them understand that your leaving isn't a bad thing, or even a big deal. If you can, avoid making eye-contact, talking to them, or petting them before you leave the house. If not saying goodbye is too difficult for you, try giving your pet a warm goodbye long before you leave the house. Similarly, once you return, it is best to not draw too much attention. This will help enforce the idea that your leaving is normal and they will be safe there without you.

 

Exercise

Taking your furry friend for a walk or playing fetch before your departure can help drain some of their anxious energy, making for an easier time while you are away. Once playtime is over, they will likely be ready to rest.

 

Take Small Steps

When healing pet anxiety, it’s important to start slowly. To do this, you can start off with leaving your pet at home for five minutes, then gradually increase your time away to twenty minutes, and then an hour, and so on. This will help your pet adjust to time spent apart.

 

While You’re Gone

Making your home a safe and comfortable environment is a critical part of ensuring your pet will feel calm when you’re away. Consider leaving out your pet’s favorite treats or toys as a distraction. If your pet has a history of destructive behavior when left alone, be conscious of where you leave them and what they are able to get into.

 

Once you arrive home, it is important that you stay calm, and avoid rewarding your pet as they may come to rely on the behavior. For more information on how to keep your pet safe and comfortable, check out the link below!