Celebrating holidays such as the fourth of July are always better when the pets are involved. These events can bring on new situations that your pet might not have been exposed to before. Stress and/or anxiety in pets is a very common and healthy emotion. We all know how stress can make us feel, so it’s only right that we do our best to help mitigate the stress levels in our pets.
A critical measure in dealing with your pets’ stress is to first educate yourself on the warning signs and behaviours to look out for. The most common symptoms are: pacing or shaking, whining or barking, changes in eyes and ears, panting, hiding or avoidance behaviour etc.
It’s never fun to see your fur baby in distress, but you have come to the right place for helpful tips on how to help your pet when they’re experiencing stress or feeling triggered.
1) Ways to help prevent stress & anxiety
In order to prevent your fur baby from experiencing anxiety, it is important to know the root cause of it first. Anxiety in pets can be brought on by a number of things such as fear, separation or ageing. The best way to help treat your pet’s anxiety is to first speak with your veterinarian so they can help you determine the type of anxiety that your pet may be experiencing. Sometimes, anxiety can be brought on by situations, meaning that once the dog is removed from a stressful situation, their anxiety will subside as well. Your vet can also help rule out whether or not there are any medical conditions that may be causing your dog’s symptoms.
There are two common ways to help your pet deal with their anxiety: desensitization and counterconditioning. Counterconditioning essentially changes your dog’s response to a fearful situation. Help your dog focus on you, or a more desirable behaviour when you detect that they may be feeling anxious. Another training strategy that can be used is desensitization. This method allows the owner to slowly introduce the dog to the cause of the anxiety in small doses and minimal intensity. This allows your dog to slowly become more comfortable with the anxiety-inducing situation, in hopes that they become entirely comfortable with it when they’re exposed again!
For more information, you can always contact a professional dog trainer to help you with this.
2) Tips to help a stressed pet calm down
Before seeking help from your vet, you can try a few different methods to help calm your pet down when they’re stressed out. The first and most common tips would be to remove the trigger that causes your pets’ anxiety. For example, if your dog is afraid of other dogs, perhaps skipping the dog park or crowded areas where there will be lots of dogs should be avoided. You can take your dog for walks when there are fewer people out, or play games inside to ensure proper simulation. Just like with humans, exercising is a great way to cope with anxiety. Fortunately, the same goes for dogs! Playing agility games, or running around with a ball outside is a great way for your pet to blow off some steam. Get your dog involved in a dog walking group so they can get some exercise and meet some new friends!
Lastly, creating a safe space for your pet to retreat to when they are feeling stressed out can help provide them with some relief. Like us, our pets need some time to relax in a quiet, stimulation free zone in order to unwind properly.
3) How to keep a stressed pet safe from getting lost
The summertime is full of fun and festivities like the fourth of July weekend, cottage trips and walks on the beach! Sometimes these events come with being around a lot of people, and maybe some noises your pet may not be used to. Someone needs to keep an eye on your pet at all times, especially if you’d like to have your dog off of their leash. The last thing you want is for your pet to take off because they became startled by something they’ve never been exposed to before.
If you are celebrating events outdoors, ensure your pet is supervised in a fenced area so they can only go so far. Studies have shown that having your pet spayed or neutered decreases the likelihood that they will roam and leave your side! Alternatively, having your pet microchipped and wearing a collar or ID tag can help get them identified quickly should they become lost.