8 ways to soothe an anxious pet
Updated: Sep 27, 2018
Anxiety strikes in mysterious ways. One of my dogs is afraid of beeping noises, for the other it is loud bangs and animals on the television. There are many steps to you can take to help your pet with anxiety. Consider the following:
1) Essential oils: Aromatherapy with lavender and chamomile can be very soothing to pets. Do not put essential oils directly on your pet without first consulting with your holistic veterinarian, as some oils can be toxic.
2) Pheromones: Adaptil for dogs and Feliway for cats are scented pheromones that help your pet feel calm and at home. Pheromones are special hormones that animals produce and can be smelled. Adptil is the scent a lactating mother dog gives off, so dogs have the sense that they are cuddling with mom. Feliway for cats is the scent of territorial marking, so cats feel a sense of "everything is mine".
3) Compression wraps: These are more effective for dogs, but may benefit some cats as well. This is based on research of experiences with autistic children who respond to the feeling of being squeezed and grounded. A popular product is the "Thunder shirt" but another option is a tight fitting shirt or sweater.
4) Supplements: various supplements are available that either promote serotonin production or include calming mild proteins. Supplements can take a week or a month to become effective.
5) Physical and mental exercise: Get some play time to wear your pet out so there is less to worry about. Learning a new trick or eating from treat dispensing toys give the brain something else to do other than stress out.
6) Address any underlying medical conditions: conditions such as skin disease, itching, allergies, inflammatory bowel disease, or epilepsy can worsen anxiety. This is a two way street where anxiety feeds into inflammatory disease and the disease worsens anxiety. Holistic veterinary care focuses on your whole pet and works to help all conditions.
7) Practicing a training method of "Nothing in Life is Free": This is part of the long term plan. In order to help reduce your pets' need to feel anxiety they need to look to you as the leader. If your pet works for you then you must be the leader. If you are the leader, then there is less for your pet to worry about
8) Prescription medication: Talk to your veterinarian about if or when medication is appropriate for your pet. Medications may be for occasional use, travel, short term, or long term management of anxiety.