Is My Cat or Dog Suffering from Anxiety?

Aug 15 • 3 minute read

Is My Cat or Dog Suffering from Anxiety?

All pets can experience anxiety, but dogs and cats especially can become distressed over common occurrences.

Stressors That Can Affect Your Pet

Anxiety is often caused by the following events and can be relieved with thoughtful planning:

A New Pet – Introducing a new pet into the household can definitely cause conflict and anxiety to both animals. Be sure they are all in good health and show your pet that the newcomer is welcome by you. 

First, with your current pet in a different room, allow the new pet to explore. This freedom allows them to explore and become familiar with their new surroundings. It also leaves their scent for your other pets to sense. After your new pet seems comfortable, introduce them to your other pet(s) one at a time. Do this by being affectionate to the new pet while also showing affection for your long-time companion. Giving your current pet something to smell with the new pet’s scent will also help establish that they are welcome.

It’s important to understand your animal’s cues. If they seem curious, allow restricted contact. Slowly allow them to spend more time together, using your judgment, based on each of their behaviors. Do not use treats when first introducing pets. Do this separately the first time and be sure to find out if your new pet has any food aggression issues. Use pet gates to keep new pets separate when necessary.

Holidays – changes in routine, overnight guests, and festivities can confuse pets, and they may experience anxiety. Create a space for your pet(s) in a comfortable spot, either where they normally sleep, or near where you will be sleeping. 

Take time to walk your pet or spend time comforting them and letting them know you haven’t forgotten about them. Be sure to keep them safe and secure as visitors may inadvertently leave doors or gates open that should remain closed.

Travel – Long periods spent in the car can cause some pets discomfort. This may include anxiety, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and stiffness due to the restricted room to move around. Plan stops along the way for your pet to relieve themselves and stretch their legs and backs. Be sure to provide plenty of water. Keep your pet secured with a pet harness top avoid injury and escape.

Moving - This is similar to the anxiety your pet may experience from traveling. In this case, they also need to get used to the new space. Be sure to bring old bedding, toys, and feeding bowls with you. If you are getting new furniture, this may add to the anxiety and can cause your pet to become destructive. Unless your pet is very well-behaved and predictable, you may not want to leave them alone around new furniture until they become used to their new environment.

Visiting the Veterinarian – Any trip to a new place can cause anxiety for an animal. If they are used to getting shots or being prodded by the vet, they may already have formed a negative feeling relating to veterinary visits. Bring a treat if they are on a leash or familiar bedding if they are in a crate. Speak to them in a soothing tone and let them know you are there to support them.

Boarding – This is probably the most stressful of times, besides during an illness, for pets. Long separations cause animals to become not only anxious but depressed as well. Be sure to leave a blanket or an old piece of clothing that has your scent on it and one of their toys if allowed. Choose a compassionate boarding facility that allows play-time and socialization if appropriate for your pet.

Illness – Illness can cause both you and your pet anxiety. Certainly, they feel discomfort and need soothing words and proper treatment to help them recover and stay calm.

Learn More by Calling Antony Animal Hospital in Hesperia, CA

If your pet seems anxious and you don’t know why they may be experiencing pain or coming down with an infection or virus. They may have been bitten by an insect or worse and could require immediate care. If your animal exhibits prolonged anxiety for no specific reason, bring them in for an exam. Our experienced veterinarian will likely be able to determine the cause of your pet’s distress

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