We often think of cats and dogs as the carefree, happy-go-lucky companions that provide joy and welcome comic relief to our lives, often reducing our stress. We seldom consider that domestic pets can struggle with their fair share of pressure, tension and anxiety. Animals are programed to protect themselves and survive in a world of threats, and when triggered accordingly, their bodies respond to the environment around them. When they feel challenged, threatened, inhibited or even frightened, this instinct persists, and can cause of great stress in their lives. Below is a brief overview at what kinds of things can cause stress, anxiety or tension in cats and dogs.
Factors That Can Cause Stress In Pets
One of the primary causes for stress in pets, is change. Anytime their “normal” life is altered, the sense of boundaries, familiarity and safety are challenged, causing the cat or dog to recalibrate and adjust to the differences. This can cause tension which manifest in a number of ways, such as destructive behaviors, nervous barking, eliminating indoors, and other signs of stress in pets. The list below delineates some examples of things that can cause animals anxiety.
- Putting in new carpets
- Loud noises (music, lawn-mowers, airplanes and trains, etc.)
- Changes in a food brand (Note that change of diet might also effect the creature physically, causing pain, swelling, or food allergies which increase the stress.)
- Strange animals (either a visiting pet, or a feral cat or wild animals in the backyard, etc.)
- A barking dog (this can agitate both dogs and cats, either as a threat or a challenge.)
- Remodeling the home (bringing strange new smells, workers, and general change to the environment.)
- Loss (death of a family member, or divorce, or a child going off to college.)
- Moving to a new house or new city.
- Injury (either a physical pain/sickness/or wound.)
- A new pet
- Being left alone/separation anxiety.
- Over-crowding (long-term visitors, too many people visiting, etc.)
- No place of retreat (this occurs when a cat has fewer places to hide or a dog feels without a den, crate or an area all to himself).
If your pet has experienced any of the above circumstances, consider how you might help your dog or cat cope with the stress with some help remedies.