How to Tell if Your Pet Has Anxiety & How You Can Help Resolve It
One of the most common behavioral problems with see with animals is anxiety. Before you determine it truly is a behavioral problem, have your pet checked out by a vet to rule out any medical reason that might be causing or contributing to their behavior.
Anxiety can show itself in many different ways such as a pet that:
- tears up the furniture or its surroundings
- chews on itself or plucks its feathers
- urinates on the floor or itself
- has excessive vocalization
- has trouble focusing/listening to caregiver
- shows aggression towards other animals or people
- acts hyper or restless
- acts submissive
Any animal that exhibits any of these behaviors may have anxiety. An animal that is anxious is not calm. Finding happiness will be more of a challenge for them. Why do people have anxiety? Animals get stressed out too and the goal is to figure out why. Most common is separation anxiety as the behaviors tend to occur mainly when the caregiver is not with the animal. But some times the behaviors happen when the caregiver is around, especially with animals that are just not sure of their “place” in your home or their role. It happens to all kinds of species of animals, both young and old. Ask yourself some questions to help determine why the behavior may be happening:
- Does it occur only when I’m not with my pet? If so, most likely this is separation anxiety. Your pet is not feeling secure in their surroundings when you are not around. Maybe the dynamics change when you are not around due to other animals in the house. Or maybe they are the only pet and they are lonely and want companionship.
- Does it occur when I’m here? If so, then when you are gone is not likely a factor but something you are doing may be. Of course, it can simply be that some thing has happened like a situation or some thing has changed, especially if this has not always been the case with your animal.
- Has some thing out of the ordinary happened at our home? Perhaps the smoke detector went off in the house, you had a major leak in your home, lightning struck near your home, or your home was burglarized or vandalized. It could be anything out of the ordinary that triggered your pet into feeling insecure.
- Has some thing changed in our household? This could be the routine you have with your animals or your own schedule. Perhaps there is a new addition to the family or a loss of a family member (person or animal). Change can make animals anxious, especially those that are sensitive.
By trying to determine why, it helps you to understand what may be going on in their mind. Here are some various ways that may help you to resolve their anxiety. The best way to determine which method(s) will help the most is through muscle/energy testing though.
- Sometimes simply talking to your pet can help resolve things. Like verbally telling them when you are coming back whenever you leave the house. If they seem unsettled, telling them they have a forever home can be helpful if you have never told them those words before. It may sound silly but try talking to them to let them know you are aware of how they are feeling. If something happened that scared them, you can let them know they are safe. Also realize that animals can become anxious from visits to the vet, groomer, trainer, boarder, etc. If these visits are occurring on a regular basis and you are not with them the whole time, perhaps something has happened to cause them to have anxiety. Even if you are with them, they may become stressed out and the continuing visits are causing their anxiety. Consider having a professional communicator talk to your pet to find out how they truly feel.
- Certain supplements are known for helping anxiety such as bee pollen, ginger and valerian. Your pet’s nutrition should be looked at closely because honestly, certain foods, including the main part of their diet, could be causing or contributing to your pet’s anxiety. The best way to determine the proper diet and supplements is through muscle testing.
- Color therapy can work wonders. For many animals with anxiety, we have found through muscle testing that baby pink seems to be the most common color that helps. Sometimes it is baby blue or another color such as yellow. These can be calming colors for many animals. You can find bedding in this color or give your pet a towel or sheet. A collar and lead are generally easy to find. You might try a bandana if your pet usually wears one. Literally a change can happen almost immediately.
- Reiki is well known for helping animals that are anxious. It is even used with shelter and rescue animals. This gentle energy work does not even require that you touch the animal. This is very helpful for animals that are very stressed out or acting aggressively.
- Many animals with anxiety are helped with flower remedies or essences. There are so many to choose from. The most popular are the Bach flower essences and there are 38 of them. Rescue Remedy is the most well known. You can read the characteristics on the bottle and pick the essences you think describe your pet but a custom remedy works best as it is custom created for your pet based on what the energy of their body is saying they need at that time. The most common essence we use in custom blends is Agrimony.
- Aromatherapy can have a calming effect with animals and relieve anxiety. Lavender can be very helpful with animals as it is with people. Other oils are chamomile, sweet marjoram and bergamot. Frankincense is known as the “rescue remedy” of the oils. You can put some on your hands and then rub them on your pet. For cats, birds and small animals like guinea pigs, it is best to put some drops of oil in a spray bottle with water, shake it, then spray near the animal, not directly on them. While a custom blend is best, you may find the magic touch with one or all of these oils.
- Massage can be very relaxing as it is with people. While most cats won’t hang around for a massage, dogs and horses tend to love it. Even some small animals like rabbits and chinchillas love to have their head massaged. Probably the most relaxing technique with a dog is to reach under their arm pits with a few fingers and make slow circles. Get way up there. Most dogs will melt – eyes get sleepy looking and head will lower. If they tense up or try to get away, lighten up a little bit with your fingers.
Just remember that there is a reason behind an animal that is anxious. Your goal is to determine why and seek ways that will help so that you will end up with a calm and happy animal.
Blessings to you and the animals you love!