Assisting Anxious Pets

Pet anxiety can be a huge problem for pets and their families. Being home alone for several hours a day while their humans are at school or work can cause separation anxiety. Thunderstorms and fireworks can also really panic pets. Some pets are so anxious that any new situation (car trips, moving, unexpected visitors) will cause them distress. Pet anxiety can lead to misbehavior, accidents, aggression, destruction of items in the home, and even running away and getting lost or injured. If you have an anxious pet, there are several strategies you can use to help calm your pet during difficult situations.

Crate Training

A crate can provide a cozy den where pets feel secure and calm when unpleasant situations arise. When crate training, make sure your pet develops positive associations with the crate. Do not use crates as punishment. Provide a soft blanket, toys, and favorite treats. Crating is not the best solution for certain animals, however, especially if your pet shows signs of distress from being in the crate itself.

Physical and Mental Exercise

Keeping a pet mentally and physically exercised can expend some of the extra energy that might be wasted on anxiety. Relax pets with their favorite physical exercise each day, especially before any anticipated stressful events. Challenge toys like a Kong stuffed with a pet’s favorite snack (frozen so it takes longer to tease out) can pleasantly distract and relax a pet.

Behavioral Training

Sometimes you can teach a pet to form positive associations with something they consider unpleasant. For example, during a thunderstorm, do not cater to your pet’s fear with any “poor baby” talk. Instead, consistently bring out a special treat they love, turn on music or the TV to distract them from alarming noises, play with them and act normally.

“Thunder Shirts”

There are new pet shirts on the market that can mimic the calming effect of swaddling on a baby, but for pets. If you try one of these, be sure to get one that fits your pet snugly, but not too restrictively.

Medications

All pets are individuals and what works to calm your neighbor’s pet may not work to calm yours. Discuss options with your veterinarian, particularly if you think your pet may need medication. Sedative medications can relax a pet’s nerves, particularly in severe cases of anxiety that do not respond well to behavioral training or distraction. It is very important to talk with your veterinarian, however, before using any medicines or herbs because each pet responds differently to these substances, and they can cause unwanted side effects.

Sources:
ASPCA, “Separation Anxiety”
Johnson, Morieka, “Does the Thundershirt Really Work”

Location

Find us on the map

Office Hours

Our Regular Schedule

Monday:

7:00 am-6:00 pm

Tuesday:

7:00 am-6:00 pm

Wednesday:

7:00 am-6:00 pm

Thursday:

7:00 am-6:00 pm

Friday:

7:00 am-6:00 pm

Saturday:

7:30 am-12:00 pm

Sunday:

Closed

Testimonials

Feedback from our clients

  • "I have been taking my 16 year old lab, Oscar, to this vet since he came to me in 2004, and I wouldn't take any of my dogs anywhere else! They are so wonderful with both pets and people. I would recommend any of the doctors and staff to anyone."
    Erin H
  • "We have been going to another vet for years. We wanted to have our year old Wheaten Terrier, Rylee spayed by laparoscopy so she would have less pain and be back to her usual activity in 2-3 days instead of 10-14 days. Our vet does the traditional spay. We had a consult meet and greet with Dr. Courtney Pierce. She answered all our questions and so friendly and professional. They have a state of the art OR suite. Rylee did great. On post op day three she spotted a squirrel and did an all out chase with no ill effects! All the staff were great."
    Linda A
  • "I love Dr. Jernigan at AHLB and would never take my dog anywhere else! The staff is excellent with animals and always professional, courteous and respectful to owners. I have trusted this animal hospital for all of my dog's care, including check ups, surgeries (she's had three!) and for boarding when we have to go out of town. Every experience I have had here has been wonderful and I highly recommend their services to anyone looking for a veterinary office for their furry children!."
    Avery C