Signs of Anxiety in Dogs and Cats

Signs of Anxiety in Dogs and Cats

Just like humans, your family pet can experience anxiety too. The most common causes of anxiety in pets are separation anxiety, changes in their environment such as a move, fear of loud noises like storms and the introduction of new pets. How do you know if your dog or cat is stressed or experiencing anxiety? Let’s take a look at some of the behaviors dogs and cats have that are signs of anxiety.


Signs of Anxiety in Dogs

Here is a list of signs and behaviors that signal your dog is stressed or experiencing anxiety.

  • Not eating
  • Shivering/trembling
  • Running away/cowering
  • Urinating more often
  • Howling or barking when left alone
  • Panting when not hot and has not been exercising
  • Pacing
  • Digging
  • Destroying furniture
  • Escaping the yard/running away
  • Self-harm – excessive chewing, biting, licking, ripping fur out
  • Generally unable to settle down


Signs of Anxiety in Cats

Here is a list of signs and behaviors that let you know your cat is stressed or anxious.

  • Hiding most of the time
  • Excessive grooming
  • Increasingly vocal/excessive meowing
  • Potties outside of the litter box
  • Trembling/cowering
  • Change in eating habits – either not eating at all or eating significantly more
  • Aggression toward people and other animals
  • Inability to sit still/pacing
  • Lethargic
  • Follows you everywhere – only if this is a change from normal


What to Do About Pet Anxiety

There are a variety of ways to deal with pet anxiety and not all options will work for all pets. You might have to try several things to find an option that relieves your dog or cat’s anxiety. If left untreated, the anxiety will worsen and the behaviors will escalate.

  • A furry companion – If your pet is a solo pet, they might do well with a companion. Just be sure to include your pet in the process of selecting their companion.
  • Increased attention – Provide increased attention and affection for your pet. Spend more time playing or just cuddling with them to help them feel more secure.
  • Plan ahead for issues – If you have an upcoming trip to the vet or even a thunderstorm rolling in that day, plan ahead for those events to make them less stressful. Provide treats, reassurance and extra attention.
  • Behavioral modification – This usually involves a trainer or coach to help you work with your pet to lessen the stress and change the anxiety related behaviors.
  • Medication – In cases of severe anxiety, some vets will prescribe low doses of human anxiety medications such as prozac to help relieve the anxiety and give you time to work with your pet on behavior modification.
  • CBD Oil – CBD oil and chews are an increasingly popular alternative to medication options. CBD is safe and is known for reducing stress and anxiety in pets. It comes in a number of forms including tinctures, drops, chews and treats.
  • Feliway/Adaptil – Feliway and Adaptil are the “happy hormones” your pet releases when they rub against you with their head or face. You can purchase a plug-in diffuser that releases the hormone into the air to add an overall sense of calm to your home. Feliway is used for cats and Adaptil is used for dogs.

If your pet is experiencing anxiety, there are things you can do. First, it’s helpful to identify the cause of your pet’s stress to see if you can eliminate that source of anxiety. In most cases, that might not be possible such as the case of separation anxiety. If you have questions about the various options to help alleviate your pet’s stress, see your veterinarian.


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