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Dogs and cats can experience various forms of anxiety for a number of different reasons. What causes anxiety and what can you do to calm your pet down when he or she is nervous or afraid? Here’s a rundown on pet anxiety and what you can do to help your best friend when his nerves get the best of him.
Pet behavior experts point to a number of causes of pet anxiety. They include previous bad experiences with a certain kind of stimulus, lack of exposure to that stimulus during early development (generally 0-3 months for dogs and 0-2 months for cats), old age, hormonal imbalances (particularly thyroid or adrenal problems), and a reaction to your anxiety as the human in charge.
The most common things to set off anxious behavior in both dogs and cats include separation from you, meeting unfamiliar animals and unfamiliar humans, thunderstorms, riding in the car and going to the vet, and loud sounds like fireworks and vacuuming.
Behavioral and physical signs of pet anxiety include inappropriate elimination, chewing things, hiding under furniture, aggression, immobility, pacing, attention-seeking, drooling, and panting. In some cases, a pet may exhibit what experts call self-trauma. This includes compulsive behaviors like excessive chewing and licking of the body, chasing and attacking the tail, sucking their flank (dogs), and pulling out hair (cats).
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