You can probably tell from the title what this blog is all about. In fact, it might be the exact reason why you clicked to read it because you want to know whether your cat or dog is suffering from anxiety and if so, how you can help them.
So let’s start…
Signs of anxiety in dogs
There are various different signs to look out for which could signal your dog is suffering from anxiety.
This could be one or more of the following:
- Hiding – cowering away from something they fear, whether that’s from other dogs or maybe children whilst on walks if they’ve previously experienced a bad encounter such as a collision (learned response) or if another dog lunges, or growls at your dog (instinctive response) or maybe when you try and get them into their travel carrier
- Growling and baring teeth – these signs can be misunderstood as your dog being aggressive, especially if it’s towards another human, say one wearing a hat, but your dog could just have a phobia after being repeatedly exposed to something they find scary and hats can stop your dog from being able to see a human’s face stopping them from knowing whether that person is good or bad
- Little accidents – dogs can relieve their bowels as a sign of stress and anxiety especially when they’re left alone. Along with these accidents, destruction can be a classic sign of separation anxiety.
Other signs that dogs may display which cats might not, include:
- Shaking – again this can be a typical response to people or other dogs they find scary, or environments such as when you’re about to leave them on their own or put them in the car
- Licking of their lips and yawning – these can be mistaken for other behaviours especially hunger and tiredness but they are classic signs that your dog can be feeling anxious. So keep a close eye on when they are doing this and what may have caused the reaction.
How can you help your dog with anxiety?
Remaining calm yourself is hugely important as dogs also pick up on your (their owners) behaviour and cues.
If you’re taking your dog to a new environment or one they have been to before but associate it with discomfort and you’re going to use a travel carrier, then it’s a good idea to leave it in the house open for them to go into and explore so they get used to it. Taking them to a friend or family member’s home? Invite the friend or family member to your home first so they get used to that person and are more likely to be more comfortable in their environment.
If you’re going to leave your dog alone, try exercising them beforehand either by walking them or by playing a game with their favourite toys and treats so they become tired and full. By being more tired and full, your dog is less likely to worry about you leaving the house – puzzle toys and snuffle mats are great for tiring your dog’s mind and filling their bellies full of treats.
Food, in general, is a good distraction and a rubber toy filled with tasty treats like pet safe peanut butter can help along with leaving the radio or TV on. This can make them feel like they’re not alone. Creating a cosy den with their crate or by putting their bed into a cardboard box with blankets over the top can also help to make them feel safe, especially when you go out or during fireworks season.
There are also all-natural supplements you can try to keep your dog feeling calm – alongside these tips, of course. Find out more about Kelato’s Anxiety Care.
Now let’s take a look at cats….
Signs of anxiety in cats
The most common causes of anxiety for cats are other cats and new places, or places that they associate with discomfort, such as the vets.
Signs that your cat is anxious around other cats:
- Aggressive sounds – generally a happy cat will meow whilst playing with another cat so if your cat is showing aggression instead by snarling, growling and hissing, this suggests they are not happy
- Domination – if your cat is not taking turns to play with another cat and is instead clawing and advancing at the same time as the other cat, this suggests your cat is not playing and is instigating a real fight because they are anxious
- Ears, claws and teeth – unhappy cats who are fighting through anxiousness will pin their ears back, use their claws and bite to inflict pain and cause injury on the other cat so watch out for these! Happy cats will do the opposite – they may playfully bite the other cat but they will not want to cause harm or injury if they’re comfortable with the play.
Signs your cat is anxious in different environments:
- Hide and seek – backing away and hiding somewhere they feel safe is a sign your cat is feeling nervous about being in a new environment or if you’re trying to encourage them into their travel carrier to take them to an environment they remember being uncomfortable in before i.e. the vets
- Accidents – if your cat has a little accident and relieves itself when you present their travel carrier or even if you take them to a new environment, this is generally a sign they’re feeling anxious
- Change in behaviour – if your cat is normally quite relaxed but they suddenly become aggressive towards you or other people, this is again a classic sign they are feeling anxious and uncomfortable.
How to help your cat with anxiety
If you’re taking your cat to a new environment or an environment they’ve been to before but remember feeling uncomfortable in, such as the vets, then it’s good to stay calm as your cat will pick up on your feelings too. Even if your cat feels anxious themselves, your being nervous and anxious will only make their feelings worse. Similarly with dogs, you can also try leaving their travel carrier open somewhere in your home so they get used to it and don’t always associate it with being in there before being somewhere that causes them to feel anxious or uncomfortable.
If the new environment is a friend or family member’s home, ask them to visit your house first. You will need to be careful about how you bring them into your home as your cat is likely to be protective over their territory, so ask them to come in calmly, sit quietly where your cat can see them and don’t pressure your cat to give the new visitor attention. Let your cat go to them when they’re ready. Once they’re comfortable with this new visitor, your cat is more likely to be more at ease going into their environment too. But remember to take it slow and steady.
As well as implementing these tips you can help to keep your cat calm with all-natural supplements designed for our feline friends. With naturally calming ingredients, they are formulated to help keep your cat calm in scenarios where they typically feel stressed and anxious. Kelato Anxiety Care, with its proprietary TensitEASE blend, is a synergistic blend of natural plant-based nutraceuticals and phytochemicals to assist the maintenance of calm behaviour and promote restful sleep in dogs and cats. It is safe for both cats and dogs, is easy to mix with food, palatable and you only need to add a small amount to any diet.
With both cats and dogs, the best piece of advice we can give is to stay patient. There is no quick fix to stress and anxiety in your pets and it will take time for them to start feeling more relaxed, and whatever you do, never punish your pet for a stress response as punishment will make their anxiety worse and deepen their fears, along with possibly leading to more extreme responses.
You may find even with the help of these tips and calming supplements that your cat or dog is still nervous and anxious and so you may need some professional help from a behaviourist or vet.
We hope these tips are helpful to you and your cat or dog! Want to find out more? Get in touch on 1800 KELATO or email our team at firstname.lastname@example.org