The Effects of Stress on Your Pet’s Skin

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Your pet’s largest organ is actually their skin and coat! In fact, their skin and coat comprise 10 to 15% of their total body weight. A lustrous coat could indicate your pet is in the best possible health.

Otherwise, a dry, unkempt, or flaky coat could indicate a serious health condition. In some cases, thyroid disease, Cushing’s, or nutritional disorders could cause issues. In many cases, however, pet stress is the root cause of skin issues. 

In fact, their stress could cause yours to rise!

How can pet anxiety impact your pet’s skin? Keep reading to find out!

After reading this guide, you can determine if your pet needs a little extra help. Read on to learn more today.

Your Pet’s Coat

First, it helps to understand a little more about your pet’s skin and coat.

Their skin is made up of the hypodermis, which contains:

  • Fat
  • Dermis
  • Epidermis

The dermis is made up of collagen. Collagen is an essential protein that can impact hair, skin, and bone health. The dermis is the largest portion of the skin.

It’s metabolically active. The dermis also contains sebaceous glands and hair follicles.

The sebaceous glands secrete sebum, an oily substance that keeps skin and hair lubricated. It coats your pet’s hair to prevent friction when they move.

The epidermis, on the other hand, contains keratinocytes. These specialized skin cells contain keratin. Keratin is a waxy substance that coats the epidermis.

It’s responsible for preventing water loss through the skin.

A pet’s coat is composed of thousands of hairs. Their hair is constantly under environmental stress, which can cause shedding.

How a Pet’s Skin and Coat Impact Their Health

Pet stress can impact your pet’s coat and skin. Changes to their coat and skin can impact your pet’s overall health.

In fact, their skin and coat play vital roles. They work as part of your pet’s immune system. They’re crucial for proper hydration, too.

Your pet’s skin and coat also protect them from:

  • External objects
  • Environmental stressors
  • Chemicals and chemical damage
  • Trauma
  • Ultraviolet light

This barrier protects their internal organs from external threats.

Their skin and coat play a part in their immune system, too. If the skin becomes compromised, disease or infection could cause harmful bacteria to spread.

Maintaining a healthy coat can help your pet regulate their temperature, too. A strong layer of fur will insulate them as needed. Meanwhile, hair follicles can bring hairs closer together.

This allows insulation or makes it easier for air to get under loose furs to keep your pet cool.

Skin plays a part in your pet’s hydration as well.

If they lose water through their skin, it could impact their overall health. Pets don’t have sweat glands. Excess water loss could impact the energy they need to maintain a healthy metabolism as a result.

Your pet’s skin also stores nutrients like protein and amino acids. Collagen fibers and enzymes are present in the skin, too. Fatty acids help protect your pet from inflammation. 

Other nutrients include:

  • Linoleic acid
  • Precursors to vitamin D
  • Zinc
  • Copper
  • Selenium
  • Manganese
  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin E
  • B vitamins

These vitamins and minerals protect your pet.

If pet anxiety or stress impacts their coat, they’ll no longer have this layer of protection.

Know How to Recognize Normal Shedding

Is pet stress impacting your pet’s skin and coat? First, you’ll need to recognize how much they usually shed. 

Normal shedding is healthy. Damaged and old hair can fall away, making way for new hair. Shedding also ensures natural oils are disbursed to keep your pet’s coat healthy.

Normal shedding can vary based on:

  • Allergies
  • The time of year
  • Your pet’s breed
  • Your pet’s existing health

For example, older pets can develop hypothyroidism and nutritional deficiencies. They might shed more as a result. Allergies can cause them to scratch, causing additional shedding, too.

Meanwhile, sunlight can trigger hair growth.

Try to keep an eye out for how much your pet usually sheds. If you notice any changes, you might want to consider your pet’s mental health. 

Anxiety and Hair Loss

Anxiety can cause many health problems in humans and pets. For example, your pet might experience hair loss if they experience pet anxiety.

When they’re stressed, your pet’s epinephrine levels will increase. Epinephrine is also known as adrenaline. Excess adrenaline can cause hair loss. 

Some studies indicate that pet stress could impact their skin health and longevity.

Dogs with extreme non-social fear and separation anxiety had an increased severity and frequency of skin disorders. A fear of strangers could cause a significantly shortened lifespan, too. According to the study, stress and anxiety could have a negative impact on your dog’s health and lifespan. 

Factors That Can Increase Stress

Certain environmental factors can increase pet stress.

For example, you might notice your cat or dog experiences pet separation anxiety. The fear of being left alone could impact their skin health. 

A lack of exercise could cause unnecessary stress, too. This is especially common for dogs born from high energy breeds. Your dog might require more daily exercise.

Noises might trigger your pet’s anxiety as well. For example, maybe there’s construction next door or dogs barking in the neighbor’s yard. Increased noise levels can further trigger their anxiety.

Change is a major anxiety trigger, too.

Changes to your pet’s routine or environment might cause them excessive stress. Try to maintain a normal routine. Otherwise, you might notice changes in your pet’s anxiety.

Their hair could start to fall out as a result. 

Excess stress for an extended period of time can cause other changes to your pet’s health, too.

For example, they might develop a loss of appetite. They could start chewing on non-food items instead.

Meanwhile, stress can cause the cortisol hormone to rise. Cortisol can also cause skin issues.

Cortisol can weaken your pet’s immune system, leading to demodectic mange (a skin disease).

Your pet might also develop behavioral issues, diarrhea, or issues urinating.

If these symptoms sound familiar, you might want to consider pet anxiety meds or another solution.

Pet Stress: Understanding How Anxiety and Stress Can Impact Your Pet

Small changes in your pet’s life can have a big impact on their stress levels. Pet stress can lead to skin issues and other health concerns. 

Don’t let pet anxiety and stress impact your cat or dog’s overall health. Instead, keep an eye out for these symptoms. 

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