Ask Dr. Aziza: Dealing With Stress in Pets

26 May 2022 | Written by Freshpet

There are numerous reasons why your pet could be feeling stressed. Changes in their routine, their environment, a new addition to the home, or even something as innocuous as a new piece of furniture can increase your pet’s stress level. We’ve asked our Freshpet vet, Dr. Aziza, to give some insight into signs that your cat or dog is dealing with stress, as well as what you can do to reduce it.

What are the top signs of stress in dogs?

When dogs are stressed, there are a number of ways that they display it. Some of the top signs include:

A stressed dog may not show all of these signs at once, so it’s important that pet parents are familiar with the various ways stress can manifest itself. This way, they can recognize if their dog begins to display an increasing number of signs and intervene as soon as possible.

What are the top signs of stress in cats?

Stressed cats display similar behavior as dogs, with the top signs being:

Where cats differ is the fact that their signs of stress tend to be slightly more subtle than a dog’s. Purring, in particular, can be hard for pet parents to connect to stress as it’s usually seen as a positive behavior.

Does my pet understand when I'm sad or angry, and does it make them stressed?

There are several scientific studies that suggest dogs can sense and reflect emotions from humans, including stress and anxiety. Dogs are very receptive to facial expressions, vocal tone, and even chemicals found in body odor that all exhibit emotions like stress. They also tend to be empathetic, meaning they can start to experience the same emotions they are perceiving.

So in a way, yes, a pet owner’s negative emotions like sadness or anger can make their pet stressed. On the other hand, positive emotions like happiness can positively affect your pet too!

What is an indicator that my dog doesn't feel well?

Some of the signs that your dog is stressed can also indicate that they’re not feeling well. However, there are a few key things that indicate your dog is dealing with more than just feelings of stress. Some key signs of illness in dogs include:

If your dog displays any of these symptoms, it’s important to schedule an appointment with your vet to see if they are dealing with an underlying illness.

Where do cats and dogs often not like to be pet?

Most cats and dogs love a good petting session, but there are places on their body that can cause stress if touched. Some of these include:

When giving your cat or dog some affection, instead of petting these potentially stress-inducing areas, try more neutral spots like their chest, shoulders, or base of their neck. If you have young children, it’s also a good idea to take the time to teach them how to properly interact with your pets.

How can I reduce my pet’s stress?

There are four key ways that you can reduce your pet’s stress:

Are there any supplements or foods I can feed my pet to calm them down?

There are several supplements that help pets feel calmer, as they contain active ingredients to decrease a pet’s anxiety and stress. To learn which products are a good option for your pet, contact your primary care veterinarian for more information.

We hope that Dr. Aziza’s answers give you a bit more insight into the signs that your cat or dog is dealing with stress. If you suspect that this is happening with your pet, speak to your veterinary team. They will be able to work with you to find the best solution to reduce your pet’s feelings of stress.

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