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 For example, a typically friendly and outgoing pet may become withdrawn, hiding away or avoiding interactions with family members.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.
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.
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!
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!
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.