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Dr. Kwane treating dog anxiety

Health & Wellness

Dr. Kwane's tips for identifying & treating pet anxiety

How to recognize anxiety in your pet, and ways to help relieve it.

With Dog Anxiety Awareness Week upon us, let’s talk about how you can identify signs of anxiety and ways to help your furry friends. 

What is anxiety and why does it happen to pets?

Anxiety is the anticipation of danger but the direct cause isn’t always obvious. Anxiety can be situational, contextual, or continuous depending on the pet. It usually occurs because of a lack of early socialization leading to a fear of people, animals, places, being alone, objects, noises, or other circumstances. 

Signs of anxiety

Signs of anxiety can be difficult to detect in cats and dogs because body language is their main method of communication. Pet parents can learn to recognize common signs of anxiety, including reluctance to interact with humans or animals outside of their family, being overly watchful, not taking a treat, holding a stiff posture, barking, pacing, panting, trembling and hiding. If your pet is exhibiting any of these signs, it’s important to take action by removing them from the situation and try to address the problem.

Home remedies for dog and cat anxiety

At home, pet parents can help relieve their pet’s anxiety by providing a safe and comfortable environment. This may include teaching them to relax in  a designated space like a crate or a mat. Providing toys like food puzzles and playing games keeps pet’s minds occupied and eases stress. Reduce anxiety by sticking to a routine for exercise, play, and attention. This helps them know what to expect. Anxious dogs may also benefit from one-on-one training or obedience classes, as learning new skills such as “touch” can redirect your pet’s attention and replace an undesirable behavior with a more suitable one.

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If at home remedies don’t seem to be helping, pet parents can also consider behavioral therapy. This can be provided by a licensed veterinarian or veterinary behavioral specialist and can be tailored to the individual needs of your pet. Some examples of behavioral therapy may include desensitization, a process that slowly introduces a pet to a stressful situation in a controlled environment, or counterconditioning, where a pet is rewarded for displaying calm behavior in a particular situation. In some cases, anti-anxiety medication may be prescribed to support behavioral therapy. 

Dog Anxiety Awareness Week is a great opportunity for pet parents to learn more about anxiety and the steps they can take to help their pet. With the right care and support, pet parents can help their furry friends overcome their anxiety and live happier, healthier lives. When your pet is covered by Fetch Pet Insurance, Fetch will reimburse you up to $1000 per year for reasonable costs for consultations by a veterinarian to diagnose & treat behavioral disorders.

The Dig, Fetch's expert-backed editorial, answers all of the questions you forget to ask your vet or are too embarrassed to ask at the dog park. We help make sure you and your best friend have more good days, but we’re there on bad days, too.

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