So you have a job, bills, a killer commute and 2.5 children to worry about, leading you to believe that your pet lives a life free from stress. In many cases, nothing could be further from the truth! Animals suffer with emotional turmoil just like people. If you suspect the pet(s) in your home are a little out of whack, don't overlook stress as the cause, as it may be just the case.
Why Animals Might Become Stressed
Not unlike people, different animals deal with situations differently. What may seriously stress one dog out, another brushes off as no big deal. In general, though, major life changes can lead to anxiety and depression in pets. Moving to a new home, losing a human family member or having to accept a new animal around are all possible causes of stress in dogs and cats.
Since most animals are territorial, introducing another pet in the home can be tricky. Cats may fight over space, dogs dispute food ownership and all vie for your attention. Sometimes, small changes may induce anxiety, such as the simple act of moving the furniture around. Since each animal is unique, it's best to make changes slowly when possible and observe the consequent reactions.
Big Feelings In Little Bodies: Pint-Sized Pets And Stress
Your poor little hamster has fear coded right into his jeans, because in the wild, he's prey to nearly everyone he encounters. This is why he will jump when he hears a loud noise, darting quickly into a tunnel or house in his cage. These little guys need quiet space where they can forget about the night owls who hunt them or the hawks and snakes who would snack on them during the day.
Birds, too, tend to be nervous creatures and will squawk when frightened. The "fight or flight" instinct is severely inhibited in a cage, thus, when your fine-feathered friend is stressed, it's very overwhelming. Without a non-eventful corner of the house to call his own like the hamster, stress may become a daily and dangerous occurrence for birds. Parakeets, finches, cockatiels and even larger parrots can even be stressed to death, as can little gerbils and hamsters.
The Best Remedies For Pet Stress
It's important to recognize the signs of stress in a dog immediately, as they can become aggressive. While cats usually vacate any scene they don't like quickly, they too, need TLC to overcome stress. If it's feasible to eliminate the cause of stress, that would be the best course of action. However, since much of the time changes to the environment have to be accepted, try to comfort your pet as he adapts. Reassuring belly rubs and ear scratches, regular feedings and exercise and a trusted place to lay a weary head will all help your pet adjust. Gradually introducing pets to new family additions, be they human or otherwise, is also best. Since exercise is a natural remedy for stress and will help tire your pet to help him sleep, play with him more than usual during stressful times.
When To See A Vet
Unfortunately, and not unlike humans, stress harms animals in many ways. Their immune systems can be compromised, digestive systems may run amuck and temperaments will go awry, among other possible consequences. Additionally, since most pets are equipped with dangerous weapons in the form of sharp teeth and claws, behavior issues are a concern when the animal is not emotionally stable.
For the pet's and your sake, discuss any situation that interferes with normal life and lasts for more than a few days with your vet. While hauling the animal off to a clinic like Pet Medical Center – Full Service Veterinary Care may cause more duress for the time being, you need to assume control over the situation ASAP. The vet may recommend changes you haven't thought of or even temporary medications to calm. There are non-narcotic options, such as herbal supplements and pet massages. Either way, a vet can help you restore normalcy and order to a suddenly chaotic and even dangerous household dilemma.
It's easy to think an animal isn't subject to the same emotional conditions as people, simply because they are animals without the same important worries as humans, but that's not always the case. Having fur and walking on all fours doesn't mean not having fears and other feelings; they simply lack the voice to express themselves, but nonetheless should be heard.