Stress Awareness Month: How to Detect Signs of Stress in Dogs and Cats

Often, it’s everyday noises and events that we, as people, take for granted that in fact can cause pets to experience both stress and anxiety.

Take loud music for example. If you live in a household with teenagers, loud, heavy-metal and decibel-crashing music is probably a daily occurrence. Pets, especially cats, hate the noise and may hide for long periods in an attempt to escape the ear-bashing cacophony.

Home renovations, along with general maintenance repairs, are also something that both cats and dog don’t appreciate. Apart from ear-piercing drills, hammers and other tools in use, pets don’t like the idea of strangers invading their space.

A pet’s personality plays an important role in how they react to different situations. For example, some dogs get very destructive and begin chewing things around the house. Others make themselves physically ill, vomiting, even pull their hair out. So it’s really important to be in tune with your dog or cat so that you can pick up on the situation and rectify things as soon as possible.

There are simple fixes. When it comes to loud music, make sure it’s turned down! When it comes to workmen, it’s a good idea to sequester your pets in a room away from the area where the work is being done so that they don’t even encounter the strangers in the home. Take your dog for a good long walk before any maintenance work commences on that day and remember to see that cats have access to a litter box for the duration along with food, water and toys.

Of course, separation anxiety in pets that are left home alone all day is a huge issue, too. Again, a long walk before you go to work in the mornings will help tire your dog out so that when he comes home he will be happy to snooze. Toys, like puzzle toys, that can be filled with either a portion of the daily meal or some healthy treats keep pets both mentally and physically engaged during your absence.

Here are some typical signs of canine stress:

  • Destructive behavior such as chewing furniture and other items in the home.
  • Excessive barking, both inside and outside the home
  • Peeing and pooping around the house
  • Sudden displays of growling, snarling and even biting family members that your dog is normally affectionate towards
  • Physical signs of illness such as vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, skin allergies, excessive licking and pulling out clumps of fur

When it comes to felines, it can be more difficult to pick up signs of stress because many felines often hide or sleep out of sight as a normal occurrence. Sometimes the escalating level of feline stress is gradual. So it’s important to be vigilant of your feline at all times. Apart from loud music and workmen, here are other things that can cause felines to feel stressed:

  • A barking dog or new pets
  • New family members, such as a baby and even visitors
  • New furniture
  • A change of food or litter type

A dirty litter box is a very common contributing factor to stress as well. Cats are very clean animals by nature.

Calming collars, which are infused with natural calmatives such as lavender, are also stress relievers. So are pheromone calming sprays, which mimic the pheromones that both dogs and cats give off naturally to ease anxiety in their young.

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