Do pets suffer from stress?

“Pets can suffer from stress just as humans do. Pet stress can be triggered by a number of things including physical restraint, confinement, loud noises, and interaction with other dogs or people. How you help your pet deal with stressful situations will depend on your pet, as some respond better to being comforted in times of stress, while others eventually stop the behaviour if they are ignored each time it happens.”


Like humans doggie stress can have a serious impact on the health and wellbeing of your fur friend. One of the most common causes of dog stress can be the result of an accident or mis-treatment. Stress can occur when a dog hears a sound, sees something or smells something that is associated with an unpleasant experience. For example, if a dog has been mistreated (hurt) by an owner, then the smell or sound of that person can trigger a stress response. Other triggers to stress can be physical restraint, confinement, change of routine (confusion), noise, boredom and unwanted interactions with other dogs or people.

Signs of stress in dogs
There are some key behavioural signs to be on the lookout for, that indicate your dog may be suffering from stress, for example:

Whining, stress yawning, hiding, drooling, lip licking, dilated pupils, repetitive behaviours, aggressive behavior, lack of bowel or bladder control, loss of appetite, over eating, pinned back ears, lowered head, tense or stiff body language, avoidance/turning away/looking away.
If these symptoms persist they can have a really adverse effect on your pet’s health, and it is advisable to see your vet. There is the possibility of medication that can help.

What to do when your dog is stressed
Unfortunately we cannot ask your dog “what’s the problem”, and the reality is for the most part we just don’t know what’s going on. So the best you can do is address the situation – because ignoring it will not make it go away! While some behaviourists suggest ignoring the dog so that behavior is not reinforced, however for many comforting is helpful. It would be important in any event to focus on helping to calm the dog down, and find out what works best for you and your pet. One thing is for sure, you do need to take some action! So work with a bit of trial and error, but consulting a professional is definitely the way to go in the long run if the behavior persists. After all they’re part of the family too, aren’t they?

Keep your dog calm during the Fireworks
The combination of loud noises and bright lights makes NYE extremely stressful for many dogs. Owners need to ensure their dog’s safety first and foremost. Here are some tips to help keep your dog safe and calm:

a)Place the dog in a secure dog crate, with a blanket over it in a quiet or secure area.
b)Put a radio above the crate with the volume a little louder than usual. Do this before the fireworks so the dog gets used to the noise. The noise of the radio should overpower the noise of the fireworks for the dog.
c)Vets also suggest altering the dog’s environment in advance, teaching it to sit in a darkened area or comfortable cage. It shouldn’t be a prison, it must be somewhere where the dog feels safe and comfortable, and it likes being there.
d)Placing treats, toys and yummy bones can also be a distraction for the dog, but it must be done long before the stressful event occurs.
e)Make sure your dog cannot escape. Many pets run away when frightened, as this is a survival mechanism, and this can put them in harm’s way.
f)If you can, it may be an idea to take your pet to an environment where they are not exposed to the noise. Maybe a friend or relative can “baby sit’ for the night.
g)If you are wish your dog to be calm during the fireworks, you should be calm too – so he can follow your example and take the cue that there’s nothing to worry about.

Whatever you do though, it’s a good idea to take your dog on a long walk before the fireworks start. Hopefully that will tire her out and put her in a calm state.

Wishing all our fur friends a safe and stress free New Year’s Eve celebration! A great news years resolution could be to have your dog insured – learn more here.

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Liz Walden

Liz has a passion for all things cat and dog, and was one of the first in Australia to bring Pet Insurance to the market. She has headed up Petsecure marketing for the past 10 years, and is committed to promoting and supporting the amazing work done by rescue groups around Australia, and those who work to promote a better life for all animals

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