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|How Do I Treat My Pet’s Stress?|
Depending on the cause of your pet’s stress, your pet may benefit from working with an animal behaviorist – especially in severe cases. If behavior modification through counter conditioning or desensitization is not fully successful, your pet may need medication to help ease anxiety and make it easier to deal with new things, loud noises (e.g., thunderstorms), separation anxiety, or compulsive behaviors like excessive licking.
Treating Anxiety in Dogs and Cats
One of the most common complaints from pet owners is that their pets are destructive or disruptive when they are left alone. Dogs may bark, howl, chew, dig, defecate or urinate. Although these behaviors are often a sign that dogs need to be housebroken or crate trained, they can also indicate that a dog is suffering from stress and anxiety.
Cats can also suffer from anxiety; they may hide, appear withdrawn, or excessively lick or bite their fur. Anxiety is the anticipation of future dangers from unknown or imagined events. Anxiety is most frequently associated with urine/feces elimination, destruction and excessive vocalization in the form of barking or crying.
Understanding the causes for anxiety in pets is essential to relieving this stress and helping pets live a happy and calm life.
Separation anxiety is a leading cause for anxiety and stress in dogs. Separation anxiety typically occurs right after the primary guardian leaves. While there is no clear evidence as to exactly why separation anxiety may develop, a sudden change in guardians or family membership, a change in schedule, or a change in residence are all common triggers for separation anxiety.
For dogs with a mild case of separation anxiety, counter conditioning may help reduce or resolve these problems. Counter conditioning is a process that changes an animal’s fearful, aggressive or anxious reaction to a pleasant and relaxed one. This is achieved by associating the presence or sight of a fearful situation with a liked person or object.
For separation anxiety, one effective option for counter conditioning is to develop an association between being alone and something your pet loves, such as a favorite treat. Be sure to only allow your pet to interact with this treat when he or she is alone. Keep in mind, however, that counter conditioning is typically most successful with mild cases of anxiety; in more severe cases, pets may refuse to eat if a guardian is not home.
Moderate to severe cases of anxiety require a more complex approach to stress relief, according to veterinarians. In addition to counter conditioning, desensitization is also helpful.
Consult with your veterinarian to learn more about the best ways to carry out counter conditioning and desensitization training, and also discuss the possibility of using psychotropic drugs. In some cases, your pet may benefit from working with a board -certified veterinary behaviorist.
American College of Veterinary Behaviorists
ASPCA, “Separation Anxiety.” 2014
We have been clients of Los Robles Animal Hospital since 1986 and have always received excellent service and pet care.
Best vet clinic in town!!
We love Los Robles!
There are no words to truly express how wonderful Los Robles is. The staff there has taken such good care of our dog over the years, and there is no one I trust more when it comes to her health and well being. Without their genuine care for her, she would not be the relatively healthy dog she is today. It is this attention to detail and genuine care for our pets well being that makes them like family to us. We are forever grateful for the people at Los Robles and all the things they have done for us and continue to do.
LRAH always exceeds my expectations. I LOVE this place - you have a customer for life
We very much appreciate the kind, professional and respectful care our cat receives at LRAH! The clinic always looks wonderful and the staff are great. Our pet feels very at ease and well cared for by Dr. Donofro during her visits! :-)
Its hard to comment on perfection. It has always been a pleasure working with the Los Robles Team no matter what the situation and the landscaping and facility look great
I am very happy I found your practice!
Thank you for the high level of care you provide our little family member.