Just like humans, it’s normal for pets to experience nervousness in certain situations. However, pets with high levels of anxiety frequently display nervous behaviors that can harm their quality of life — and yours, for that matter. Dogs and cats suffering from nervous behavior may express their anxiety in the form of disruptive behaviors, including urination, increased vocalization, pacing, destruction of property, aggression, and more.
It can be heartbreaking to see your pet so uncomfortable and anxious. Fortunately, there are plenty of things you can do to help your furry friend find relief, from massage therapy to high-quality pet CBD. Read on to learn more about why pets get anxious and how you can help manage their symptoms.
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Why Is My Pet Anxious?
Pets can become anxious for any number of reasons. Many phobias and anxieties are formed due to experiences that occur within the pet’s first year of life. Traumatic events — such as a severe thunderstorm, animal abuse, or being surrendered to an animal shelter — can leave their mark on our furry friends and contribute to nervous behavior in adulthood.
Some of the most common causes of pet anxiety include loud noises, being left at home alone (separation anxiety), traveling, new environments, unfamiliar people, children, and other pets.
Nervous behavior in dogs and cats can also be a sign of underlying illness or disease. Suppose your pet is anxious all of a sudden and doesn’t have a history of nervous behavior. In that case, it’s important to have them looked at by a veterinarian to rule out illness-caused anxiety.
7 Tips for Relieving Nervous Behavior in Pets
Nervous behavior in pets is common, especially in dogs. According to a recent study, more than 70 percent of dogs display anxiety-like traits.
If your pet suffers from a phobia or anxiety, here are a few things you can do to help calm them down.
Give your daily pet exercise.
We all know that exercise is a fantastic stress-reliever for humans, but did you know that it can help calm your pet down as well? Daily exercise helps stimulate the production of serotonin and endorphins in your pet’s brain, making your pet feel extra happy and relaxed. It also gives young pets and high-energy breeds a healthy way to release all of their pent-up energy. For maximum stress-relieving benefits, try to exercise your dog or cat first thing in the morning. Take your pup for a long walk and bust out the laser pointer for your cat.
Engage their brain.
Physical activity isn’t the only type of exercise that can help calm an anxious pet. Providing mental stimulation in brain games is also a great way to soothe a nervous pet and curb unwanted behavior. Teaching your pets tricks, giving them treat puzzles, and making obstacle courses for them at home are all fun things you can do to boost their brainpower while strengthening the bond between you and your pet. If you have a nervous pup, nose work activities are particularly effective at reducing anxiety(1).
Consider giving your pet a natural calming aid.
Though you’ll first want to consult your veterinarian, natural calming aids and supplements may benefit your anxious pet. For instance, many people use all-natural CBD tinctures to support a calm mind, and they’re increasingly giving CBD treats to their pets for the same reason. CBD, or cannabidiol, is a compound that comes from hemp. Unlike THC (2), it won’t make your pet high — just relaxed.
Similarly, supplements such as L-Theanine and L-tryptophan can help take the edge off stressful situations. Herbal calming chews with valerian and chamomile can also soothe anxious pets.
Try an anxiety vest.
Got a pet who hates thunder and fireworks? Anxiety vests sometimes called anxiety wraps or pressure wraps, are great for noise-phobic pets. They work by applying gentle pressure to your pet’s torso, which, in theory, is supposed to calm your pet down in high-anxiety situations by triggering the release of endorphins. If your pet shakes in fear at the slightest hint of a thunderstorm, it may be worth a shot.
Put your pets on camera.
If your pet struggles with separation anxiety, now is the perfect time to invest in a pet camera. Pet cameras make it easy to monitor your pet while you’re away from home, so you can see what they do while you’re away. Some pet monitors even feature treat dispensers that allow you to treat your pet throughout their alone time.
Relax your pet with calming sprays.
Pet calming sprays, also known as pheromone calming sprays, may help relieve anxiety in pets. Pheromones are the chemicals produced by animals that can influence the behavior of other animals. Pheromone calming sprays like Adaptil and Feliway work by mimicking the calming pheromones believed in making pets feel safe and secure. If sprays aren’t your thing, pheromone-based products also come in the form of collars, plug-in diffusers, and wipes.
Treat them to a massage.
Most dogs (and even some cats) love a good massage. So, why not give your pet a gentle rubdown? Massaging your pet can help boost their circulation, decrease pain and ease their anxiety. If you don’t want to give your pet a massage yourself, you can also treat them to a professional animal massage.
Know When to Seek Professional Help for Your Pet
For more severe cases of anxiety, don’t wait to reach out for professional help. Nervous behavior in pets often gets worse when it’s left untreated. A reputable trainer or certified pet behaviorist can provide you with a glimpse into your pet’s mind, allowing you to immediately identify the problem and start working towards a solution.