Warning signs to look out for from your pet during anxious times
27th May 2020
If we are suffering with the mental impact of anxious times, it could be that our pets are feeling unsettled too, which we might not realise at first. Here we take a look at what to look out for in our pets to ensure their mental wellbeing is maintained, particular during the COVID-19 crisis.
Signs of stress in humans
Cats and dogs won’t be aware of the crisis that’s going on in the world around them, but they will pick up on their owner’s stress levels. They can spot changes in their owner’s facial expressions, body movement and tone of voice. Even slight changes can make a pet feel concerned. And pets can sometimes have a way of hiding how they are feeling, so owners need to pay close attention when looking out for signs of stress.
If a pet becomes clingier with its owner and spends extra time checking up on their owner’s whereabouts, this could be a sign that they are stressed. Having a close bond with your pet is important, but when your pet becomes over-reliant or needy, this could be cause for concern. Clingy pets might shadow their owner, staying by their side as much as possible. If the pet appears overexcited when the owner returns home after leaving the pet alone in the house, this could indicate that they felt anxious or upset while the owner was away.
Conversely, pets may also become more withdrawn from their owners when they are stressed. They might hide more often, when previously they would be spending time with their owners. Many pets will hide when they are experiencing physical pain brought on by stress, so it’s important to keep an eye on your pet’s health if they are hiding more than usual.
Illness brought on by stress
Cats are particularly prone to developing physical ailments when they’re stressed, such as vomiting or urinating where they shouldn’t. Cats may develop a sudden reluctance to eat or drink, which can put them in physical danger of serious, even life threatening, complications. Feeding your cat using a SureFeed Microchip Pet Feeder Connect can help you identify changes in your cat’s feeding as soon as it occurs so that you can get them the help they need as soon as possible. The Microchip Pet Feeder Connect links to the Sure Petcare app and sends real-time updates when your pet eats from the feeder, as well as allowing you to view historical graphs of your pet’s feeding patterns.
Pets and children
If you have children at home all the time in a lockdown situation, your pets might find the extra hustle and bustle stressful. And if your children don’t know when it’s time to leave your pet alone, such as during feeding, sleeping or hiding, then your cat will become stressed. Make sure your children understand how to interact with your pet and let them know when they should leave the pet alone. Pets that are stressed by the presence of children may begin to hide more often.
Impacted energy levels
If a pet changes their levels of activity, this could indicate underlying fear, anxiety or stress. Stressed pets might pace up and down, appear on edge or be easily startled. Extra movement may occur even when the pet is standing still. If an animal is particularly stressed, they might shiver, shake or tremble. Stressed dogs might also bark more than usual or bark with more intensity than they usually would in certain situations. By contrast, some pets might become lethargic, rest more than usual or become disinterested in their toys when they are stressed.
An Animo activity and behaviour monitor can help you to identify some of these states in your dog. Animo monitors activity levels, shaking, barking, daytime rest and night-time sleep to help you identify any changes in these behaviours which could indicate stress.
This blog post was written in collaboration with certified trainer, behavior consultant and the lead trainer for Fear Free Happy Homes, Mikkel Becker, CBCC-KA, CDBC, KPA CTP, CPDT-KA.