Stressed pets can be a great source of stress for their owners. That’s because it is often unclear what is causing a pet’s stress. Treatment possibilities are abundant, but research may be limited and leave doubt as to what is safe. What helps one pet may not be appropriate for another.

Pets can become anxious because of loud noises, car or plane travel, or the introduction of a baby or another pet. Some pets are simply prone to anxiety. Talking to your veterinarian about your pet’s behavior is always best, especially if you are uncertain as to the cause.

In the meantime, you can help your pet by seeking out ways to reduce stress. You may also consider some natural remedies before turning to medications for pets who suffer from anxiety.

  • Provide physical and mental stimulation – Pets can become anxious due to boredom or because they crave our attention. Be sure your dog is getting exercise being outside and give your time for some play and a walk. Indoor cats are often content to sleep for hours, but they also benefit from your attention and new toys that get them running and jumping. Puzzle feeders also are a great option. And both dogs and cats can learn new tricks.
  • Turn on some music – Research has shown that both dogs and cats are soothed by music, but different genres may be more effective from one breed to the next. By playing different types of music and observing your pet’s behavior and body language, you may be able to find a genre that relaxes your anxious pet, especially played at a low volume when you are away from home.
  • Aromatherapy may help – Essential oils present an ancient remedy for reducing stress in humans and animals, but veterinarians stress using them cautiously around pets. Essential oils should never be ingested by a pet, and cats can be especially sensitive even to diffused oils. With some guidance from your vet, lavender oil and other essential oils can be helpful especially for dogs simple by placing a drop on the corner of your dog’s blanket or towel.
  • Pheromones – In diffused or wipe form, these products contain a version of the hormone nursing mothers produce and can be soothing for both dogs and cats.
  • Pet massage or acupuncture – Both massage and acupuncture target pressure points that can immediately reduce stress for your pet just as they do for humans. Specific locations, including the ears, feet, top of the head, or the base of the tail may be natural pressure points that release anxiety with a simple massage. Treatment from a licensed veterinary acupuncturist also can help by releasing the natural pain-relieving substances from the body.
  • Supplements for your pet – Many pet owners have found relief for their pets among such supplements as melatonin, L-theanine, L-tryptophan, Zylkene, chamomile, and valerian root. CBD oil, containing no THC, also has become available in doggy chews and pet dosages. It’s always best to speak to your veterinarian before introducing supplements to your pet, especially for those products with limited research and uncertain dog and cat dosages.

The goal for every pet owner is to see their pet happy and relaxed, so finding the right remedy for anxiety, especially for pets that struggle with visitors or car rides, is crucial. Sometimes a walk or an evening grooming with a comb or brush is enough to calm an anxious pet, but where medication is needed your veterinarian can help.

If you have questions about your pet’s behavior or believe your dog or cat needs medication for anxiety, contact our doctors for a consultation and exam. The Lake Cable Animal Hospital team is available to help.