ANXIETY & OUR PETS

SIGNS, UNDERLYING CAUSES, AND TREATMENT/ MANAGEMENT OPTIONS

THE IMPORTANCE OF SOCIALIZATION IN KITTENS AND PUPPIES

Many animals will develop anxiety in response to sudden of  changes in their environment (i.e. addition a new animal or person to the household, moving households, etc.). In order to help avoid this, it is important to expose pets to many different people (varying in age, sex, race, etc.), animals (other species too), environments, and experiences while they are young. Exposing puppies and kittens to new things regularly will help ensure that they react confidently and appropriately, rather than fearfully or with anxiety, when they come in contact with those things in the future as adults.
The critical period for socialization is between 3-14 weeks for puppies and 3-9 weeks for kittens. Studies have shown that socialization during these key developmental stages decrease fear, aggression, and anxiety in response to new people, animals, or situations as adults.

SIGNS OF ANXIETY IN DOGS/CATS

SIGNS OF ANXIETY IN DOGSSIGNS OF ANXIETY IN CATS
– Pacing and restlessness
– Lip licking
– Trembling/ shaking
– Panting
– Cowering
– Hiding
– Slow movements
– Freezing/ immobility
– Owner seeking behavior or abnormal clinginess
– Excessive yawning
– Refusal to eat
– Destructive behavior
– Tail held close to body
– Furrowed brows
– Ears held back
– Vocalization (growling, whining, etc.)
– Hair standing on back
– Freezing/ immobility
– Hiding
– Fleeing
– Crouched stance with feet flat on the ground
– Trembling/ shaking
– Tensed muscles
– Dilated pupils
– Averting the eyes
– Tail held close to body
– Growling
– Swiping
– Hissing/ Spitting
– Ears held back
– Excessive grooming
– Tail swishing
– Hair standing on back

NOISE AVERSION (INCLUDING FIREWORK AND THUNDERSTORM ANXIETY)

Noise aversion is an anxiety disorder induced by loud noises, such as fireworks and thunder. This is commonly seen in both dogs and cats. Pets with noise aversion may bolt in attempt to get away from the loud noise. Thus, cats and dogs with this disorder should be kept securely inside during loud events, and dogs should only be taken outside on a leash for bathroom breaks (even if in a fenced yard). Pets will do better if they are not left at home alone during these events.

SEPARATION ANXIETY

One out of every six dogs may suffer from separation anxiety. This disorder can be seen in young dogs who never fully adapt to being away from their owners or in older dogs after a sudden change in schedule or household. These dogs are usually perfectly behaved when their owners are present, but panic and suffer from anxiety when left alone.
Dogs with separation anxiety are often prone to destructive behaviors and may have a tendency to unintentionally injure themselves trying to escape when their owners are away.

Management of Anxiety

Pharmacological: Some pets may require medication in order to adequately manage their anxiety. Depending on the nature and cause of the anxiety disorder, the pet may be started on a daily long-acting medication or a short-acting medication given only as needed for anxiety-inducing events.
Pheromone therapy: Synthetic pheromone sprays, such as Feliway for cats and Adaptil for dogs, can be used to calm anxious pets. They work by mimicking the properties of the natural pheromones that provide comfort.
Behavioral modifications: Exposure to the thing causing your pet anxiety can be helpful if you are able to control the intensity. For example, if your dog is afraid of fireworks, it may be helpful to expose your dog to fireworks from a distance that is less intimidating. Additionally, high value food rewards can help create positive associations with otherwise anxiety-inducing experiences.
Other: Some pets respond to pressure wraps (i.e. “thunder jackets”). Some pets may be less anxious when they are given a safe space to retreat, such as a quiet room or crate. However, this makes some pets more anxious.
*Often, pets require a combination of the therapies listed above.

Have your pet featured in Our newsletter!

If you’d like your pet’s photo featured in one of our newsletters, email us their photo to info@acahsite.com. Include both your name and your pet’s name in the email with the following authorization statement: “I, ___(your name)___, am the owner of ___(pet’s name)__, and I give my authorization for ACAH to utilize my pet’s name and photo for marketing purposes, including newsletters and social media.”

Ardmore Companion Animal Hospital
25547 Main Street
Ardmore,TN 38449
Phone: (931) 427-8383