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Library > Health and Well Being > Pet Anxiety? The Path to Peace

Pet Anxiety? The Path to Peace

5/3/2013

Life in the 21st century is crazy-busy.

Between running kids to school and sports and music lessons, working, keeping the household running, and maybe even trying to squeeze in a trip to the gym…you’re busy and more than a little stressed out.

Guess what? Your pets pick up on that. And when you’re stressed, they can start feeling a little stressed too. Prolonged anxiety can extend beyond just an unpleasant time; if ignored, it can lead to health and behavior problems.


While some people may find relaxation through “doga” (yoga for dogs. really.), there are lots of simpler ways to help Spot and Tabby blow off a little steam. With just a little intentional effort, you can make scratching, digging, clawing, whining, and crying a thing of the past.

Keep Pets Active

Often, the source of a pet’s anxiety is lack of activity. Just like you get a little antsy when there’s nothing to do, it’s hard for your pet to just laze around, too. Unless you have a three-toed sloth for a pet.

Be sure to give pets plenty of opportunities for outdoor exercise. Play games with your cat or dog that are both mentally and physically stimulating.
 

Grant More Freedom

If you’re like many pet owners, your schedule means leaving your dog or cat alone for long stretches of time. Granting safe access to your yard while you’re busy can give them some variety.

Many pet experts, including veterinarians, professional dog trainers, and behaviorists, recommend pet doors to reduce accidents inside the home, increase exercise, stimulate a pet’s senses, and provide a change of scenery.

Consider installing a pet door combined with a pet containment system. When your pets — dogs and cats alike — are trained well, they can learn to understand and respect the boundaries of the yard and enjoy their outdoor time in safety.

You might even opt for a programmable electronic pet door that’s customizable and completely secure against unwanted visitors with an automatic locking device, allows you to set different schedules, boundaries and rules for each pet.


Make Separation Easier

Your pets are family. They love you, and they also really enjoy being around you. But sometimes you need to leave the house. It becomes a little more than they can bear, and they tell you all about it by shredding the contents of the bathroom trash. Or your favorite baseball hat.

If your pet cries or gets destructive when you leave the house, you may need to take some extra steps to help him through his separation anxiety. If he gets anxious when he notices you getting ready to leave, you can try to desensitize him by putting your shoes on or packing your bag, but not actually leaving.

When you do leave, keep the radio on to keep him company throughout the day. If possible, try only leaving for short periods of time, and then gradually build up the time you’re away. And try to avoid making grand entrances and exits (as much as that’s possible with your busy life).

In short, try to make the act of leaving and returning home as much of a non-event as possible to help keep your pet at peace.

Take Care of Their “Spot”

Be sure to regularly clean the litter boxes and keep your pet well-hydrated. Automatic litter systems, pet feeders, and drinking fountains can help you maintain your dog or cat’s “personal space” even when you aren’t there to do it yourself. Feeling secure that all their needs will always be met will help reduce their anxiety.

Take Them Seriously

Ultimately, your pet is part of you family. You wouldn’t ignore one of your human family members if they were upset, so don’t ignore your pet’s anxiety. A few simple household changes can take the stress out of being a pet and can give you peace of mind that your furry friend is happy and healthy.

 

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