Anxiety is a common ailment of pets, especially those living in NYC.  While it can be touch to recognize the signs, if you feel your pet is struggling with anxiety, talk to your vet.When pets are anxious, symptoms can range from mild to more severe or obvious. Anxiety can have adverse effect on the anxious pet as well as you (the owner), other people, and other pets in your household.

Let’s review the common causes of anxiety in pets, how to identify the signs, and how to help your pet with the proper treatment by continuing to read.

What Causes Anxiety in Pets

Pet anxiety can be caused by many factors, including their environment, history, interactions with people and other animals, and more. Situation anxiety is that which arises only with a triggering event:

  • Separation – separation anxiety, one of the most common types of anxiety in pets, is caused by being separated from their owners. This includes being left alone for both long and short amounts of time or being separated from a specific person. Anxiety caused by separation can be due to past traumas from abandonment, a change in ownership, and strong bonds between the pet and its owner.
  • Noise Phobias – fireworks can be an enjoyable experience for people, but the same can’t always be said for cats, dogs, and other animals. When fireworks are set off, pets can’t understand what they are. Pets don’t understand that fireworks are relatively harmless and will end soon. The same goes for other loud noises pets might experience and cannot understand.
  • Changes in Environment – moving to a new home; introducing a new pet, baby, or person to the household; medical conditions; not enough stimulation; and other new experiences can cause anxiety in pets.

The other common type of anxiety we see is generalized anxiety, a chronic condition that is not specific to a trigger or situation. Situational anxiety can also progress to generalized anxiety over time or if the anxiety isn’t addressed and managed.

Although situational and generalized anxieties are different, you should take both equally as seriously as they can cause immense stress for your pet, reducing their quality of life. Below, you can learn about anxiety symptoms to look out for and what steps to take after you recognize your pet might be dealing with this issue.

What are Signs of Anxiety in Pets

Whether your pet is dealing with situational or generalized anxiety, they may present one or several of the following signs:

  • Destructiveness, such as ruining furniture, chewing through doors and walls, destroying their bedding, and scratching
  • Restlessness and repetitive behaviors like pacing or running in unusual ways
  • Whining and barking more than normal
  • Over-excitability, meaning they have difficulty calming down, even when offered high-value treats
  • Changes in appetite, like not eating meals or treats and not drinking water as much as they should be
  • Excessive drooling, panting, and shedding
  • Hiding, not being social, avoiding eye contact, or showing the whites of their eyes
  • Shutting down or showing no interest in anything
  • Uncontrollable trembling and shaking
  • Excessive grooming of themselves through licking and biting
  • Urinating and defecating in places they should not be using the bathroom
  • Aggression toward people and other animals, including biting, snapping, and growling

Pets dealing with situational anxiety may experience the symptoms after a trigger occurs, such as being left home alone or fireworks being set off. Once the trigger has been removed or subsided, they may return to their normal behavior after some time. In contrast, a pet with generalized anxiety might continuously exhibit one or several of the symptoms listed.

If your pet is exhibiting any of the symptoms listed above or other abnormal behavior, don’t put off seeking assistance, we are here to help and there should not be a negative stigma for seeking veterinary expertise. The longer your pet’s anxiety goes unacknowledged, the more it can worsen and become more challenging to treat.

Treatments for Anxiety in Pets

There are many approaches to treating pet anxiety, and what works for your pet will be specific to them and may not be the first method you try. The first place to start if you believe your pet is exhibiting signs of anxiety is to visit your vet to rule out physical medical conditions that might be contributing to their symptoms. You and your vet should then be able to narrow down the situation, triggers, or the cause of your pet’s anxiety.

Once you and your vet have identified the cause of your pet’s anxiety, you might utilize one of the following treatments:

  • Change their environment, creating one that is safe and comfortable for the pet, which can include providing them with their own space, using white noise machines, and removing loud doorbells and other factors that create a loud noise
  • Introduce crate training and other non-punishment training techniques like positive reinforcement as punishment can worsen anxiety and behavior
  • Provide exercise and mental stimulation, including going for walks, playing fetch, using puzzles to dispense treats, and providing toys and scratching posts

In some cases, it may be necessary to medicate your pet, which should be done under the guidance of your veterinarian. Even with natural remedies like CBD, you should always consult your vet before using them.

Pure Paws Veterinary Care can help pet parents in Clinton Hill, Hell’s Kitchen, and Hudson Square understand and manage their pet’s anxiety. While pet anxiety might not appear that bad, it can quickly worsen, so don’t wait to reach out to a trusted veterinarian. Taking care of your pet and their anxiety won’t only help them live a better life but will also help to reduce your own stress and worry that has been caused by the distress of your pet.