Mental Stress and anxiety

blocking the way to health and happiness

In today’s era, anxiety and mental stress are increasing in humans. But even our furry friends get affected by these and as pet parents it is your responsibility to understand the difference between mental stress and anxiety.

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Managing mental stress, one step at a time

Dr. Amarjeet Singh Kanda
Dr. Amarjeet Singh Kanda

Mental stress in dogs refers to the state of heightened tension, pressure, or strain experienced by your pet in response to certain situations. For example, your pet might experience mental stress when meeting new people, hearing loud noises, or undergoing a medical procedure. Your pet’s body might respond with physical symptoms such as increased heart rate, sweating,or muscle tension to this stress.

Understanding the ABC of anxiety in dogs

On the other hand, anxiety refers to a more severe and persistent state of fear,nervousness, or unease that a dog experiences in response to specific situations or stimuli. Anxiety can cause your pet to behave in ways that are harmful to themselves or others, such as excessive barking ordestructive chewing. Dogs can experience different types of anxiety, such as separation anxiety, social anxiety, noise anxiety, and travel anxiety.

Several factors can contribute to your pet’s anxiety including genetics, past experiences,and environmental factors. It is essential to identify the specific triggers that cause anxiety in your pet to help manage and treat the condition effectively.

Beware – these are signs of caution

Some common signs of mental stress in dogs are – change in appetite, changes in sleep patterns, aggression, excessive grooming, avoiding interaction, destructive behavior, and lethargy.

Some common signs of anxiety include – excessive barking or whining, destructive behavior, panting, pacing, trembling, hiding, or attempting to escape.

Both mental stress and anxiety can be triggered by similar situations, such as separation from their owner or exposure to loud noises. Anxiety is often more severe and prolonged. Anxiety can also be more difficult to treat than stress, requiring a more comprehensive and long-term approach that may include medication and behavior modification. In other words, it can be said that mental stress is a normal reaction to certain situations, while anxiety is a more severe and persistent condition that requires intervention to manage.

Make peace of mind a priority

Follow these tips for helping your pet manage and reduce their mental stress –

  • Create a safe and comfortable environment for your pet to feel cared for
  • Regular exercise is a must – walks, running, playing fetch or any other exercise that your pet likes
  • Start socialization from a young age
  • Mental stimulation in the form of games and toys is a good idea
  • Consistency is the key. Follow all these practices consistently so see a visible change in your pet
  • There are several ways to help your pet dealing with anxiety
  • Behavioral modification training
  • Medication
  • Natural remedies such as pheromone diffusers and calming supplements
  • Creating a comfortable and secure environment and providing regular exercise and mental stimulation

It would be best to consult your vet and rely on their expertise. He/ she would tell you the best treatment method and various lifestyle changes to manage stress and anxiety in your furry friend.

As a pet parent, you need to pay attention to your pet’s behavior and provide appropriate care. With the combination of patience and efforts, you can reduce stress and promote a healthier and happier life for your pet.

(Dr. Amarjeet Singh Kanda is a physiotherapist and animal behavior expert at Happy Grid Health Care Systems , New Delhi)

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