10 Ways to Help Relieve Stress in Pets
Our non-human family members are, in so many ways, just like our human ones. Complex emotions, constant demands and a steady need for love and affection often causes stress in pets. And, like us, they quickly become anxious and depressed without the proper care. The main difference? Unfortunately, our furry friends can’t tell us what they’re feeling and why, which makes it hard to predict what they need and when.
With that being said, most pet owners are tuned into their animals enough to know when something’s off. If your pet is acting unsettled or disinterested or has suddenly developed behavioral issues, he may be experiencing feelings of stress and anxiety. Luckily, there are a few great natural remedies for stressed pets, and we’ve outlined them below for you to try.
1. Try a Pet-Safe CBD Product
You’ve probably heard of taking CBD for your own stress and anxiety, but did you know you can also give it to your pets? Yep, this surprisingly powerful yet gentle compound is a great way to provide your dog with relief from discomfort and to help reduce his anxiety and stress. Plus, it’s perfectly safe for Fido as long as you go with a high-quality, pet-safe option. Try specially formulated CBD oil for dogs in a tasty bacon flavor to help it go down without a fight.
2. Provide Petting and Massage
Petting your furry friend is beneficial to you both. Physical affection helps animals feel safe and connected to you, which will, in turn, help relieve their stress. Bonus: Not only will it help calm your pet’s anxiety and nerves, but it will also provide you with some undeniable benefits, including a decrease in cortisol and lower blood pressure.
3. Provide Extra Exercise and Stimulation
All animals need exercise and mental stimulation in order to be happy. Without it, they risk becoming bored and may eventually develop behavioral issues, depression and anxiety. Make sure you know how to recognize pet boredom and respond accordingly. In dogs, common boredom signals include digging up the backyard and pacing. Remember that most pets are social creatures and need stimulation just like you, so be sure to take walks, play games and hit the dog park often.
4. Eliminate Stressors
It sounds obvious, but make sure you do an inventory of stressors around your pet and eliminate anything that can be removed. Pets can be surprisingly finicky to basic household stimulation, whether that is a loud dishwasher, hardwood floors or construction sounds. Try to create a calm, stress-free environment for your whole family, including your pets.
5. Provide His Favorite Comforts
Like humans, animals are calmed by familiarity and items that remind them of being happy and at ease. One great way to help reduce stress in pets is to surround them with things that promote calm, like their favorite blanket or a T-shirt that smells like you. This is especially helpful for pets who have separation anxiety and tend to get stressed out when you leave.
6. Try Not Go Off Routine
Pets are surprisingly attached to their daily routines, and something as simple as changing the time of day you feed or go for a walk can cause high-strung pets to react negatively. While you can’t avoid the occasional change in schedule, try to make it as infrequent as possible to prevent your pet from getting thrown off balance.
7. Provide Plenty of Toys
Many pets suffer from stress and anxiety due to boredom and not having enough stimulation to work off the stress. Exercise is crucial, but some animals need more than just a physical release. They also need mental stimulation through playtime. Providing them with toys they can play with on their own as well as with you will help them keep their minds busy so they don’t sink into a state of stress and anxiety.
8. Provide a Safe Space
In nature, animals survive by creating safe, protected dens where they can enjoy peace and quiet. If your pet lives in an environment surrounded by stressors — whether those are fellow pets, kids or lots of people coming and going — make sure they have a safe, sheltered space of their own. Cats can usually find a safe space under a bed or behind furniture, but dogs may need your help creating their haven. Consider investing in a crate or creating a quiet corner with his or her favorite bed and blanket, making the area off-limits to kids and other pets.
9. Provide Quiet and Background Noise
Just like us, pets can get stressed out by certain audible stimulation, whether those are the loud traffic sounds outside or children screaming. Make sure you have a quiet place for your pet to enjoy. If he or she tends to get separation anxiety, consider leaving some white noise or the TV or radio on for him or her while you’re gone.
10. Remain Calm Yourself
One more key thing to remember when dealing with animals: they’re very good at sensing your emotions and tend to respond to them with incredible intuition. That’s why if you get excited and start jumping around while watching a sports game or award show, a boisterous pet might get up and join you while a shy one might run away. If you’ve got a more high-strung pet in the house, try to keep the noise and emotional responses under control as much as possible. In other words, act normal at all times, even if things are not normal!
If Necessary, See Your Vet
Our pets are beloved friends and cherished family members, so the last thing we want is for them to feel stressed. While you may be able to regulate your pet’s stress with these simple tricks, some pets require professional intervention or medication. If you’ve tried everything and can’t seem to calm your furry family member, make an appointment at the vet to see what other options are available.
Meghan Belnap is a freelance writer who enjoys spending time with her family. She loves being in the outdoors and exploring new opportunities whenever they arise. Meghan finds happiness in researching new topics that help to expand her horizons. You can often find her buried in a good book or out looking for an adventure.