Stress and Anxiety in Pets
Our furry friends bring us joy, companionship, and unconditional love (and if you have a Golden, lots of fur). However, just like humans, pets can also experience stress and anxiety that can be profound in some dogs and cats. Understanding the signs, causes, and ways to manage stress in our beloved companions is not only crucial for their well-being, but also for ours. EVERYTHING IS RELATED
In this blog post you will learn the signs of stress and anxiety in pets, the signs of stress, how to manage stress and anxiety at home, and when to call the vet.
Signs of Stress and Anxiety in Pets
Pets, whether dogs, cats, or other animals, can exhibit various signs of stress and anxiety. One common indicator is a change in their behavior. For example, a typically friendly and outgoing pet may become withdrawn, hiding away or avoiding interactions with family members. or overly grumpy. On the other hand, some pets may become excessively clingy, seeking constant attention and reassurance. Changes in appetite, such as decreased or increased eating, as well as vomiting and diarrhea, can also be signs of stress. Additionally, pets may exhibit destructive behaviors, such as excessive chewing, digging, or scratching, which can be a result of anxiety. Some pets can even pull out their hair, urinate and defecate inappropriately where and when they shouldn't, or lick themselves enough to cause sores. Needless to say unaddressed stress and anxiety in pets shortens lifespans, decreases quality of life (both theirs and yours!), and (between veterinary bills and buying a new carpet because your cat urinated all over it multiple times, is expensive!
This blog post is intended to help you learn more about stress and anxiety in pets, including the causes, symptoms, how to manage it at home, and when to get the vet involved.
Pet Parent Guilt
Owning a pet brings immense joy, love, companionship, and fur into our lives. However, alongside the pleasures of being a pet parent, there often comes an unwelcome guest - guilt. Pet parent guilt is a common emotional experience that arises from the fear of not meeting our furry companions' needs to the fullest extent. Even veterinarians are not immune - I experienced it myself when I had to euthanize my dog, Alma, in 2021 after a valiant battle with cancer. It was gut-wrenching.
In this blog post, we will explore the various aspects of pet parent guilt and provide strategies to cope with this challenging inner experience.
Understanding Pet Parent Guilt
Pet ownership guilt can manifest from many different situations, such as feeling inadequate in providing proper care, feeling like you are neglecting pets' well-being, or not spending enough quality time with them. Separation anxiety guilt may arise when leaving our pets alone for extended periods, leading to worry and doubt about their emotional state. Guilt related to a pet's health may emerge when we feel responsible for their ailments, believe we could have done more to prevent them, couldn't do more because of financial limitations, or feel like you chose euthanasia either too early or too late. Additionally, guilt may weigh heavily when we perceive our pets' behavior as problematic because they are bored and lacking exercise opportunities and mental stimulation.
As a responsible pet owner, you want to ensure that your furry friend gets the best possible nutrition. With countless pet food options available, it can be challenging to make the right choice. A crucial aspect of selecting the ideal food for your pet is understanding the information provided on pet food labels. In this article, we'll help you decode pet food labels so you can make informed decisions about your cat's or dog's diet.
Decoding pet food labels can seem overwhelming, but with a little knowledge and practice, you'll become a pro at selecting the right food for your furry friend. Remember that your veterinarian is an invaluable resource for guidance on your pet's specific dietary needs. By understanding pet food labels and consulting with your vet, you can ensure that your cat or dog receives the balanced and complete nutrition they need for a long, healthy life.
Author-About Sarah Wooten, DVM, CVJ
Dr. Sarah Wooten is a renowned international influencer in the veterinary and animal health care spaces, with over 16 years of private practice experience and a decade in veterinary media work as a certified veterinary journalist. Passionate about educating pet parents, Dr. Wooten has written thousands of articles, created hundreds of videos, and made numerous media appearances as a veterinary expert. In addition to being a sought-after speaker for continuing education events, she is also a co-creator of the popular card game 'Vets Against Insanity'. In her free time, Dr. Wooten enjoys various outdoor activities and encourages everyone to live life to the fullest. Through her affiliate partnerships, she shares trusted recommendations to support her mission of empowering pet owners and veterinary professionals while providing reliable resources for pet health care.
Calling all wild women!
Hello fellow readers and happy April! Spring is either around the corner or already showing up for many of you, and it's time to get back in touch with nature and our true selves. That is why I picked Women Who Run with Wolves for this month's challenge.
While I definitely recommend this book for all female types, it is also a great read for male people because this book can help you understand the feminine and believe it or not, you have aspects of the divine feminine within you as well. I know. Hard to believe...but anyway - I still recommend that you read this book because it is life changing.
I first stumbled across this book about 5 years ago, and have listened to it twice on audiobook already. This is my first time actually reading it and I'm so excited to see what new things I glean!
If you are reading it for the first time, treat yourself to the audiobook. Dr. Estes is a cantadora - a female latin storyteller. Part of the reason I loved it so much on audiobook is because she does the reading and she is a master at storytelling.
This book explores the divine feminine archetype and the wildness that we all have inside ourselves (because we are, in fact, part of nature even though we like to separate ourselves). She talks about the powerful forces we have inside, such as instinct, intuition, creativity, and love. In this book, she explores the wild woman and helps us come into contact with this ageless powerful part of our psyche. I admit - I straight up cried through some of the stories. I hope this book resonates with you and I would love to hear about how it impacts you in the comment section.
If you need a reading schedule or want to follow along with the schedule I am using, here you go:
April 1 Introduction Singing over the Bones
April 2 Chapter 1 The Howl
April 3 Chapter 2 Bluebeard
April 4 Chapter 3 Vasalisa the Wise Tasks 1-4
April 5 Chapter 3 Vasalisa the Wise Tasks 5-9
April 6 Chapter 4 Hymn for the Wild Man
April 7 Chapter 5 Skeleton Woman
April 8 Chapter 5 Skeleton Woman
April 9 Chapter 6 The Ugly Duckling
April 10 Chapter 6 The Mistaken Zygote
April 11 Chapter 7 Joyous Body
April 12 Chapter 8 The Feral Woman
April 13 Chapter 8 The Feral Woman
April 14 Chapter 9 Returning to Oneself
April 15 Chapter 9 Returning to Oneself
April 16 Chapter 10 Clear Water
April 17 Chapter 10 Clear Water
April 18 Chapter 11 Retrieving a Sacred Sexuality
April 19 Chapter 12 Marking Territory
April 20 Chapter 13 Battle Scars
April 21 Chapter 14 Initiation in the Underground Forest
April 22 Chapter 14 Initiation in the Underground Forest
April 23 Chapter 15 Shadowing
April 24 Chapter 16 Wolf's Eyelash and Afterword
And as usual, I invite you to join me for a facebook live on the last Tuesday of the month at 5 p.m. (April 25th) MST/7 p.m. EST where I discuss the book. Bring your favorite bevvie of choice! To find facebook live (I call it DRSW Afterhours) https://www.facebook.com/events/589769789726646 I hope to see you there!
If you need the book, I also included an amazon link where you can order it, and if you would like to see my entire reading challenge, go to this page. Alternatively, you can check out the other reading challenge posts on my blog orreading challenge page.
You probably know that I believe that healthier, happier, more emotionally intelligent humans make for healthier, happier pets. This is why I started a monthly reading challenge - so we can also improve ourselves together! When you create a better you, everybody around you (including your pets!) benefit as well.
If you missed my January and February reading challenges, well - you can still get caught up, especially since this month is a much easier read.
March's book is Mindful Moments. I chose this book for a couple of reasons:
A couple of tips for reading challenge success:
1. Try to read at the same place and time every day to build consistency and good habits.
3. Try keeping a journal about your thoughts as you work through this book.
4. Get your book for next month - Women Who Run with Wolves
5. If you got behind on the reading challenge for January or February, this is an excellent time to catch up!
5. Join me for a Facebook Live on March 28th at 5 p.m. MST/4 p.m. PST/7 p.m. EST as I discuss this book during DRSW after hours - I will drink wine, you can have your bevvie of choice, we will chat, and have a great time. Be sure to mark that you are attending, and I will see you there! :-)
Happy reading, and stay mindful!
Need the books?
I believe that healthier, happier, more emotionally intelligent humans make for healthier, happier pets, which is why I started this monthly reading challenge! When you create a better you, everybody around you (including your pets!) benefit as well!
This month's book is Mindset: the new Psychology of Success. I chose this book because, I've read it before many times, and it has greatly impacted the way I think in all aspects of my life in positive ways. I used to have a really tough time with failure...really tough. I felt like it defined me, damaged me, and every time I failed it was the end of the world.
This book helped me reframe all that, so I want to read it again with you! Consider this book your love note to yourself during February, the month of love.
Here is the reading schedule I will be utilizing:
2/1: Chapter 1
2/2: Chapter 2 Grow Your Mindset**
2/3-2/5: Chapter 2
2/6: Chapter 2 Grow Your Mindset**
2/7-2/9: Chapter 3
2/10: Chapter 3 Grow Your Mindset**
2/11-2/12: Chapter 4
2/13: Chapter 4 Grow Your Mindset**
2/14-2/16: Chapter 5
2/17: Chapter 5 Grow Your Mindset**
2/18-2/19: Chapter 6
2/20: Chapter 6 Grow Your Mindset**
2/21-2/23: Chapter 7
2/24: Chapter 7 Grow Your Mindset**
2/25-2/27: Chapter 8
2/28: Chapter 8 Grow Your Mindset**
The chapters in this book are longer, so I gave us several days to get through them. The 'Grow Your Mindset' days are for the sections at the end of each chapter where the author gives us several exercises to work through to...you guessed it...grow our mindsets.
A couple of tips for reading challenge success:
1. Download the PDF calendar, print it out, and post it somewhere you will look at it every day. Check off each day as you complete the reading or exercises for that day.
2. Try to read at the same place and time every day to build consistency and good habits (remember our book from last month!)
3. A journal is helping for the grow your mindset exercises.
4. Keep notes on what stands out to you - I would love to hear about it!
5. Get your book for next month - Mindful Moments, by Deepak Chopra!
Did you know that during the month of February, veterinary professionals actively promote awareness around dental health in dogs and cats, and often offer awesome discounts on dental care and dental products?
Dental health is incredibly important to your pet's overall health and wellness. Dental disease causes more than just bad breath - it is painful, shortens the life of dogs and cats, and reduces their quality of life.
When a pet develops periodontal disease, they have infection and inflammation in their gums. Bacteria from the mouth can then enter the bloodstream and land in the heart or kidneys, putting extra wear and tear on these organs, shortening the life of the pet.
Dogs and cats can start developing dental disease as soon as they get their adult teeth - around 6 months of age. In fact, over 70% of pets over the age of two are suffering from some level of dental disease. Just like people, dogs and cats get plaque buildup on their teeth. Plaque can be scraped or wiped off, but if it sits on a tooth for longer than 72 hours it can harden into tartar, which requires professional equipment to remove!
Fortunately, there are several things you can do help promote dental health in your pet:
It can be hard to choose dental products that actually do what they claim to do on the label. Here is a few of my favorite dental products that you can purchase for your pet!
Frequently Asked Questions about Pet Dental Health:
How often do I need to brush my pet's teeth?
Pets accumulate dental plaque just like humans do, so ideally you should brush your pet's teeth daily. It helps to set up a habit so you remember, such as, every time I brush my teeth, I brush my pet's teeth. If you can't brush every day, try to brush every 3 days because it takes that long for plaque (which can be removed with a brush) to harden into tartar (which can't).
Do I have brush the inside of my pet's teeth? They won't say 'AH!"
Fortunately, pets don't seem to accumulate much plaque on the inner surfaces of their teeth (the tooth surfaces that are closest to the tongue). You can give your pet the benefit of brushing just the outsides of the teeth - play close attention to the big teeth in the back and the canine teeth where pets seem to accumulate the most plaque, and don't forget the bottom jaw!
I'm brushing my pet's teeth but they are stained brown and don't seem to get cleaner. What am I doing wrong?
You aren't doing anything wrong - the brown staining is most likely dental tartar that is hard, adhered to the tooth and can't be removed with brushing alone. If this is the case, your best choice is to schedule a dental cleaning for your pet so that you can start fresh with clean teeth!
Do dental chews help clean a dog's teeth?
Chewing safe, long-lasting chews can definitely help to scrape teeth clean. And chewing is good for your dog's mental and emotional health as well! What science has found is that it isn't necessarily the type of chew but how long the dog chews for - chews that last 10-2 minutes are more effective than chews that last less than 10 minutes.
Why are veterinary dental cleanings so expensive? They cost more than my dental cleanings!
Pets don't understand that we are trying to help them when we clean their teeth - we can't ask them to say 'AH!' and if we tried to clean their teeth while they were awake, it would be incredibly stressful for them and we would not be able to clean below the gumline, where most dental disease likes to hide. Therefore, we have to anesthetize animals when we clean their teeth, and anesthesia is very costly. Most dental cleanings will cost $800-$1000 and more if there is any dental disease that requires extractions. To budget for yearly dental cleanings, I recommend saving $100 a month, or investing in pet insurance or a veterinary wellness plan that includes dentistry.
How does dental disease affect my pet's overall health?
If your pet has periodontal disease (gum disease), then that means your pet has inflammation in their mouth. Periodontal disease increases the body's burden of inflammation, and chronic inflammation is a key contributor to many health problems. Furthermore, bacteria gets into the bloodstream from infected gums and showers the valves of the heart and the kidneys, increasing wear and tear on these organs, shortening a pet's life space. Lastly, dental disease is chronically painful.
January is a perfect time to start new habits that support your overall wellbeing. The book I have chosen for this month to help us become the greatest version of ourselves is Atomic Habits, by James Clear.
The reason I chose this book is because Clear uses tiny changes to easily create remarkable results (and that is the book's subtitle). I like tiny changes, and I like easy, and I've noticed a couple of bad habits that I would like to change (like scrolling for an hour on reels instead of building my business, my health, or my relationships).
As I go through the book, I will be posting my thoughts, a-ha moments, things that I am doing because of the book, etc. all on facebook - so please follow my progress there to see what I am learning and doing differently.
If you want to grow yourself and do this book challenge with me (yeah let's do it!), then get the book (I have an amazon link below) and follow along on this schedule:
January 12th: Introduction
January 13th: Section 1 and 2
January 14th: Section 3
January 15th: Section 4 and 5
January 16th: Section 6 and 7
January 17th: Section 8
January 18th: Section 9
January 19th: Section 10
January 20th: Section 11 and 12
January 21st: Section 13 and 14
January 22nd: Section 15
January 23rd: Section 16 and 17
January 24th: Section 18 and 19
January 25th: Section 20
January 26th: Conclusion
January 27th: Review any parts that you want to read again
January 28th: Rest!
January 29th: Rest!
January 30th: Make a plan to implement one thing from the book, and share with me on facebook what you chose to do.
January 31st: Start your new plan!
New habits take practice and accountability - let's be accountable to each other!
And if you want a look ahead to February's book - we will be reading Mindset: the New Psychology of Success together. Please join me!
As a veterinarian, you are well-acquainted with the importance of staying mindful and focused on your work. Your job requires you to be calm and collected in order to properly care for your patients and provide them with the best possible care. That's why mindfulness is an essential skill for veterinarians. With regular practice, mindfulness can help you stay focused, reduce stress, and increase productivity. Here's a look at why it's so important.
Being a veterinarian is one of the most rewarding job titles out there. But, as with any job that puts you in contact with animals, work can be tough. That’s why it’s important to make time for yourself and practice mindfulness. Here are some tips and tricks on how to stay mindful while you work long hours at the clinic.
Dr. Sarah Wooten is a well known international influencer in the veterinary and animal health care spaces. She has 16 years experience in private practice and over 10 years experience in veterinary media work, and is a certified veterinary journalist.