Unfortunately, anxiety in our pets may be as common as in us humans!   Dogs and cats are wonderfully social and complex creatures...two big reasons why we love them so much.  But with that complexity comes many challenges.  To help our furry friends feel as calm as possible, we all can try to better recognize the signs of stress, anxiety, and fear.  

Many unwanted behaviors in our pets can be the result of anxiety. Fortunately, if we can better identify potential symptoms, there are many things we can do to try to help alleviate the stress and improve the behaviors.  The following are some simple tips and suggestions that could help your family find more calm.

What causes anxiety for our pets?

The causes of pet anxiety are nearly as numerous as for human anxiety, and in many ways are quite similar.  Fear of change, fear of being alone, and fear of the unknown are probably the three big categories for everyone!  Some common anxiety categories with our pets are the following:  

  • Separation anxiety (being alone)
  • Loud noises like fireworks and thunderstorms (the unknown)
  • Changes in the home (changes)
  • A big disruption to schedules (changes)
  • A new pet in the home (changes)
  • Vet Visits (strong memories of unpleasant things in the past!)
How common are the above?  The research is somewhat limited on good statistics.  There is research that suggests that over 30% of pets suffer from separation anxiety. It is believed that nearly 100% of dogs have some level of fear response to thunder or fireworks; the question is a matter of degree.  It may be over 50% of dogs show physical signs of real distress for loud noises.  

What are the signs of anxiety in my pets?

You will notice from the list below, that many symptoms of anxiety or fear could have multiple meanings.   For example, barking, drooling or panting obviously could signify many different things depending on the situation (e.g. excitement, hunger, exhaustion).  In dogs, common signs of anxiety or fear include:

  • Barking / whining
  • Pacing
  • Scratching
  • Chewing
  • Drooling
  • Panting
  • Urinating and defecating in the house
  • Shaking
  • Digging

In cats, commons signs include:

  • Scratching
  • Peeing or pooping outside the litterbox
  • Constant meowing
  • Hiding
  • Fighting

How to Help Our Pets Feel Less Anxious:

Whether its a recent change in behavior, or a problem behavior that has been around for a long time, anxiety may be a cause.  First, it is always a good idea to talk to your vet to rule out any potential medical issues.  With that done, here some some simple tips and solutions to reduce anxiety.

  • Spend more together time! If possible and don't hold back on physical contact.  We firmly disagree with those that argue comforting our pets when they are anxious or afraid might reinforce bad behavior.  Physical contact helps both humans and pets relieve anxiety...bring on the love!
  • Change the environment:  It may seem obvious, but if you are able to identify the stressor and can remove it, do so!
  • More exercise!  Walking, playing, running...whatever can get some energy out and get the blood flowing
  • Safe spot:  If possible, create a quiet and safe space in an interior room that can serve as a escape from problem stimulations
  • Get professional help:   There are many wonderful positive-based trainers available to help us diagnose and help our pets.  One great resource to find one is the Association of Professional Dog Trainers (APDT).

Products Proven to Help:

As a company who has been dedicated to calming our pets for over ten years, we have many products that have been proven to reduce anxiety in cats and dogs.  Here is a summary of just a few that might help you.  More details are available on the product page for each product.

ThunderShirt – Calming Pressure Wrap: The ThunderShirt is where it all began for ThunderWorks!  It is the original, natural calming solution that helps reduce anxiety in dogs and cats in a drug-free way. Like swaddling an infant, ThunderShirt’s patented design applies gentle, constant pressure to calm many types of anxiety, fear, and over-excitement issues.

Based on customer surveys of thousands of dog and cat owners, ThunderShirt is over 80% effective in calming anxiety in situations like thunderstorms, fireworks, separation, traveling, vet visits and much more.

For cats, we’ve seen the ThunderShirt for Cats significantly reduce problem meowing, and help to make s feel more calm and less vocal overall. 

ThunderEase – Calming Pheromones: For more details about pheromones, please see this blog post, but in short, ThunderEase mimics the natural calming pheromones produced by dogs and cats to help them feel calm and safe.  These products come in the form of diffusers, sprays, and - in some cases - collars. 

If your dog experiences continual anxiety (for example, all day separation anxiety vs. during storms), the diffuser or collar may be great options for you.  If your dog has more situational anxiety (like during fireworks, or traveling to the vet) then the spray may be your solution, especially when paired with a ThunderShirt.

In cats, we offer two different types of pheromones.  ThunderEase for Cats is proven to help with issues like scratching, spraying (peeing), or hiding throughout your home.  

If you are having issues with your cats fighting or not getting along, you should try ThunderEase for Cats – Multi-Cat.  This is the #1 vet recommended solution to reduce cat conflict, and keep the peace in a multi-cat household. 

ThunderWunders – Calming Chews: ThunderWunders calming chews are made in the USA, and are vet recommended.  They promote rest and relaxation, and help your dogs and cats to remain calm, so you can spend more time snuggling, and less time struggling.  These chews are perfect if your pet experiences anxiety from fireworks, thunderstorms, traveling, vet visits, grooming, or even simply for overexcitement issues.  Check out our ThunderWunders for Dogs, and ThunderWunders for Cats

If you have any questions, we'd love for you to contact us and talk to one of our product experts.  You can reach us at service@thundershirt.com or give us a call during business hours at (866) 892-2078.

If a specific issue particularly resonated with you, please see our more detailed articles on tips and tricks to address each problem

Dogs:

 Cats:

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