We’ve all experienced stress at some time. The reality is, the pressures of modern life impact on our bodies, particularly city life.
But have you ever thought about how your lifestyle might impact on your pet and how to recognise the signals?
What makes cats stressed?
Cats are pretty self-sufficient creatures that like to be able to roam around, explore, avoid problem situations and help themselves to food and water. They like privacy and a quiet environment. They do not like change, so moving house, or the arrival of a new pet or a baby can disorientate and depress and stress a cat.
In today’s domestic situations, cats often have to live in confined spaces in units and are restricted to indoors. Their owners justifiably fear for their safety on busy streets, so are not comfortable with giving them access to outdoor areas and even if they do have a protected area, it is often very limited. Some cats have to share space with other pets.
Since cats are more reserved than dogs, you have to look carefully signs of stress. Behaviours to look for are:
- aggression towards other pets
- loss of appetite
- over grooming
- urinating and soiling
- listlessness and general withdrawal
- decreased level of activity.
What makes dogs stressed?
Dogs are more outgoing than cats and in many ways better at communicating stress and unhappiness. They can’t tell you what is causing it, but they can certainly let you know that things are not the way they would like them to be. The easiest one to identify is separation anxiety when a puppy is introduced to a new home and new people. Even a more mature dog may react adversely to a change of environment.
Puppies are like children. Early experiences will impact on future behavior. Socialisation is very important to dogs. Unlike cats they are not loners and crave companionship and happy interaction with humans and other pets. Scary encounters can result in nervous behavior and aggression. So it is very important that early experience is positive and that a benign environment is maintained.
Dogs in confined spaces will experience similar problems as cats. While cats will exercise themselves given enough space, dogs need more activity. Some dogs will exhibit signs of stress after a spell in a boarding kennel. There are also fear reactions – thunder, lightning, fireworks that can set a dog off. Illness, hospitalisation and ageing can all produce behavioural changes. Most of all, dogs need attention and lots of love, Deny them this and you’ll end up with an unhappy pet.
What to do about pet stress
If your pet exhibits signs of stress you need to remedy it as best you can. Your vet can recommend remedial systems and preparations. If you or a member of your family is suffering stress, you would not hesitate to seek medical help. Your pet is not ‘just a cat, or just a dog’. They are part of your family and deserve the same consideration as the other members of your household. So consult your vet about pet stress.