How Stress Impacts the Health and Well-Being of Pets

Séverine LEMOINEStress Management

Today, 33% of people say that they’re experiencing extreme stress in their lives. Stress isn’t just something that we human beings live with — even pets are living with the fear and anxiety that this condition causes. 

But how exactly does stress affect your pet’s well-being? We explain that and more in the information below. 

Some Pets Start to Take on Your Stress

Believe it or not, you might be the biggest thing stressing your pet out. Scientific studies assert that in many situations, pets mirror the stress and anxiety exhibited by their owners. 

Animals have adept senses that allow them to hunt in the wild and adapt to a variety of environments. This makes them ultra-sensitive to changes in your temperament and stress response. Watch for signs of your dog’s emotions heightening while yours heighten. 

A stressful environment for you is also a stressful environment for your pet. Learn some stress management strategies that will curb this issue.  

When you start managing stress better, it’ll make your entire household more peaceful. Consider a meditation practice, getting more sleep, and organizing the life matters that are out of control to help lower the temperature on stress in your home. 

Your Pet Might Start Shaking or Developing Nervous Ticks

Pets carry the energy of stress in their bodies. If they aren’t able to discharge that energy on a walk or playing outside, it can lead to shaking or nervous ticks. 

You might see your dog pacing back and forth for seemingly no reason at all. This is typically a sign that they’ve been storing stress that has become chronic. Expect these issues to keep getting worse if the stress issue isn’t properly managed. 

They May Start to Hide or Avoid Being Out and About in Your Home

Pay careful attention to your pet’s behavior. If they’re exhibiting odd tendencies to be anti-social, it could also be a sign that they’re stressed out.

Animals dealing with inordinate stress might begin finding hiding places and avoiding coming out when they know people are home. Be particularly mindful of potential stress problems if your pet begins whining and whimpering while they’re tucked away in a hiding place. 

Pets often develop stress due to noise sensitivities. For instance, frequent storms, noisy equipment, fireworks, and even the vacuum cleaner can contribute. 

Their Posture Can Weaken and Decline

Your dog or cat’s body language says a lot about its overall health. Check out their posture and notice if the pet appears sunken, rather than upright. 

This poor posture could also be a sign of chronic stress. It’s not uncommon to see stressed dogs begin to cower or shift their weight, rather than standing on all four legs like normal.  

When your dog or cat isn’t properly carrying its weight, it will be more likely to deal with swelling and injuries that will only worsen. 

You May Start to Notice More Accidents and Destructiveness Around the House

When your pet is stressed out, it may also start to have bladder control issues. Pay attention to urination spots that are suddenly popping up, particularly if your dog is well-trained. 

Things like a new move or other life changes can cause pets to start having accidents due to stress. If your pet begins to use the bathroom all over the house, their training goes by the wayside and they may start to pick up other bad habits. 

You’ll also have far more cleaning on your hands, in addition to damage to your carpets that could cost you some serious money. 

Pets dealing with stress, anxiety, and boredom might also become more destructive around the house and may bark more frequently. 

Pets Will Begin Shedding More Frequently and in Larger Amounts

Notice whether or not you’re finding pet hair all over your house. Similar to the way humans may begin shedding hair when they’re dealing with inordinate amounts of stress, pets, too will begin to lose lots of fur. 

Shedding is normal for many pets, which is why you should always have an idea of how much your pet generally sheds normally. This will let you know when their shedding is seemingly more frequent or in larger amounts. 

In the entertainment business, it isn’t uncommon for show dogs to lose large amounts of fur in the middle of a performance due to stress and anxiety. Pets dealing with intense stress can develop the habit of excessively licking their fur, which can lead to alopecia. 

Shedding of fur can create a mess all over your house, and may also cause you to use a lot of time and resources trying to find out what’s wrong with your pet. 

The Stress Can Lead to Physical Illness

Don’t lose sight of the fact that stress can mount up and create physical problems for your dog. When they are dealing with consistent stress, your dog or cat may develop high blood pressure and physical pain. 

They might also start to deal with weight gain, which can lead to joint issues and arthritis. The buildup of the cortisol stress hormone will lead to your pet’s body being more inflamed, which also makes them more likely to deal with pain and discomfort. 

Help Your Pets De-Stress to Improve Their Quality of Life

As you can see, stress can take a serious toll on your pets. Their overall quality of life is at stake when they are dealing with emotions and feelings that are difficult to manage. 

You can help take control of the situation by giving your pet plenty of exercise and doing your best to manage stress in your household as a whole. 

We have a variety of other posts that could help you, from helping kids get to bed to managing weight gain. 

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