Stress

Natural remedies for canine and feline stress relief to reduce anxiety in stressed cats and dogs.

remedies for natural relief of stress and anxiety in cats and dogs

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  1. Do Pets get Stressed?
  2. What Causes Stress?
  3. Help for Stress
  4. More Information on Stress

Do Pets get Stressed?

The answer to that question is undoubtedly, yes. Just as we as owners get stressed and panicked, so do our pets. An animal’s nervous system is just as susceptible to stressors in the environment and surroundings as our nervous system is, if not more so.

While every animal copes daily with average amounts of stress (keeping them alert) sometimes, stress can affect both an animal’s psychological and physical wellbeing. Remember, that an animal cannot vocalize their stress, or use coping mechanisms – as they do not grasp the concept of time, and that the stress will eventually pass.

What is the effect of Stress on my pet’s health?

As with humans, stress can have serious physical consequences on an animal. Stress takes its toll on the immune system and studies have shown that people under more stress are more likely to get sick. The same may be true for our animals.

When an animal gets stressed, messages are sent to various organs in the body to produce certain results – the heart quickens, they start to pant and lick their lips, they quiver and shake, their eyes get ‘glazed’ and they seem to be in a fearful trance-like state. It is especially dangerous for a pet, as animals have been known to resort to desperate measures (jumping out of windows during a thunderstorm) to get away from the perceived danger – as they would do in nature during the ‘fight or flight response.’

Health problems related to stress may include cardiovascular problems such as high blood pressure and coronary heart disease aggravated by stress. Stress may also play a role in speeding up the progress of certain cancers and disorders in the animal body.

As is the case in humans - other health problems associated with stress include diabetes, ulcers, irritable bowel syndrome, memory loss, autoimmune diseases, thyroid problems, infertility, skin and coat problems, muscle tension and fatigue.

When should I worry about Stress and my pet?

As your pet cannot vocalize their stress and anxiety, it is a good idea to monitor your pet’s behavior in certain situations. Stressed animals will usually change behavior suddenly – panting, pacing, or licking at themselves as a coping mechanism.

Animals that are constantly ‘high-strung’ may pull out their fur or feathers, or engage in ritualistic behavior in an attempt to calm their nerves. If your pet stops eating, or has a drastic change in bowel movements (diarrhea) it may be a sign that their stress needs to be managed.

What Causes Stress?

For a household pet stress may be caused by multiple factors. A pet may get stressed by a new person in the home, an addition to the family (a new baby), fireworks, thunder storms, moving house, a stay in a kennel, unfamiliar surroundings, a visit to the vet or worst of all - getting out of the property and becoming lost. Certain breeds are also susceptible to hereditary stress disorders.

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Help for Stress

There is a lot that can be done to help your pet cope. The most important thing is to try and identify what may be causing your pet to stress, so that you can make changes to avoid the upset in future.

The solution may be as simple as closing the drapes when there is a storm, or giving your pet a treat when he or she is visiting the vet. In other cases, it may be more serious and require treatment or advice from an animal behaviorist or veterinarian.

The common conventional treatments for stressed animals include tranquilizer-like medications – such as Fluoxetine (Prozac, Reconcile) - but these drugs may be unsuitable for pets with weakened hearts or other conditions and may be accompanied by side effects.

Natural remedies

There are many natural herbal and homeopathic remedies that can help to reduce stress levels for your pet without serious side effects – using Nature’s helping hand. Natural ingredients aim to treat the animal as a whole, supporting the body and the nervous system.

Scutellaria laterifolia (Scullcap) is one of the best known herbs for soothing the nervous system, while Kalium phosphate (Kali phos) and Argentum nitricum (Arg. nit.) are homeopathic ingredients used to address the sudden and immediate symptoms of stress, such as quivering and panting. Theses herbal remedies all serve to relieve the anxiety and tension related to stress.

More Information on Stress

Many pets get anxious – but the good news is that there is a lot
that can be done in the home to make them feel more at ease.
  • Help! Dogs in particular can become very anxious and distressed during a lightning storm or when fireworks are let off nearby. If your pet becomes distressed, try not to fuss too much, as this may be interpreted as attention – perhaps triggering further anxiety in the future. Rather stay calm and provide your pet with the necessary tools to cope. This may include a ‘den’ for them (empty cupboard with a blanket and favorite toys) as dogs will try to find a place where there is one opening – where the perceived ‘danger’ can be watched. Cats will usually seek out shelter under a bed or behind a cupboard. Best to leave them be, and not bother them.
  • Exercise! Keep your animal physically active - this is a great technique for stress relief. Regular exercise helps burn up stress-related hormones such as adrenaline while releasing happiness-inducing endorphins! For your animal, sniffing the ground while outdoors is like reading a magazine – a great way to relax!
  • Eat healthily. It seems too simple, but a balanced diet will energize your pet’s body and help him or her to cope better with stressful situations. Important nutrients for stress relief include Vitamin B, calcium and magnesium – all of which are available in vegetables. Your pet should be fed on a diet of 20% protein, with the rest made up of healthy carbohydrates (like rice) and vegetables.

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