As anyone who loves a dog, cat, or other animal companion knows, just because they can’t talk doesn’t mean animals aren’t intelligent and don’t have feelings. In recent decades, numerous studies of animals—from our familiar dogs and cats to wild ones like crows and elephants—are far smarter and emotionally sensitive than most of us have been raised to believe.
So it’s no wonder that pets, just like humans, experience anxiety from time to time. For some, it’s a normal response to certain life events: a thunderstorm or fireworks, a new pet in the home, or a household move. For others, something happens that triggers a chronic state of anxiety, or anxiety disorder.
Whether acute or chronic, anxiety in pets can lead to all sorts of issues, from behavior problems to physical illness. These behaviors and conditions affect not just the animal but everyone in the household. In severe cases, pet anxiety takes a toll on the quality of life both of the animal and of the people around it—both family and neighbors.
Does My Pet Have an Anxiety Disorder?
While different species of animal exhibit anxiety in different ways, there are certain general patterns of behavior that may indicate an anxiety disorder in your pet. These include:
- Chewing and other destructive behavior
- Excessive vocalizing (barking, howling, meowing, etc.)
- Restlessness or pacing
- Rapid breathing or panting beyond normal responses to heat and/or exercise
- Excessive drooling
- Compulsive, self-destructive, and/or repetitive behavior
- Abnormal feeding behaviors, such as refusal to eat or coprophagia (eating feces)
- House training issues
- Excessive startling or spooking
- Shivering, shaking or trembling
If your pet exhibits one or more of these behaviors on a regular basis, they may indeed be suffering from anxiety.
Like humans, there’s no silver bullet for treating anxiety in pets. Behavior modification training is usually essential, to teach the pet to relax in situations that trigger anxiety. This, of course, requires a good understanding of the psychology of the specific species of animal involved. If you suspect your pet is suffering from anxiety, it’s a good idea to find a reputable trainer in your area who can help you determine what is causing the anxiety and how to work with the animal—through training, human behavior modification, and/or modifying the pet’s environment—to reduce anxiety-driven behavior problems.
Besides recommending training, your veterinarian may prescribe anti-anxiety medications such as sertraline, diazepam, and buspirone to help calm extreme cases of anxiety in pets. While these can be effective at helping the animal relax, like any pharmaceutical drug they may have undesirable side effects and/or adversely affect the animal’s long-term health. These days most good vets view drugs as a last resort.
Fortunately, there are many natural anti-anxiety treatments for pets that can help to lessen or alleviate an anxious pet’s mental distress and support the effects of training.
4 Natural Anxiety Treatments for Pets to Help Them Stay Calm and Happy
Just as in humans, anxiety in pets affects the whole being: mind, emotions, and body. Let’s take a look at a few of the most popular and effective holistic anxiety treatments for animals available today:
- Bach Flower Remedies – Gentle and effective, the Bach flower remedies work according to the principles of Vibrational Medicine to correct and rebalance negative mental and emotional states. A trained flower essence practitioner will prescribe a specific remedy based on the individual animals’ physical and emotional symptoms. However there are several commercially available flower essence blends—including a pet-specific formulation of the well-known Rescue Remedy—that many pet owners find very helpful in alleviating anxiety in their animal companions.
- Homeopathy for Animals – The underlying basis of homeopathy is the principle that ‘like cures like’, or that a substance that is capable of producing a set of symptoms is also capable, in much lower doses, of curing the same set of symptoms regardless of their perceived cause. Remedies must be carefully matched to the patient, but the right one can trigger almost miraculous results. Homeopathy is routinely practiced in dogs, cats, horses, ruminants, and birds. Its use in other exotic species is growing. Like the flower remedies, there are quite a few over the counter homeopathic remedies for pets that can be effective at curbing anxiety—although it’s best to go with a trained practitioner for serious or advanced cases.
- Traditional Chinese Medicine – Ancient Chinese physicians developed a sophisticated understanding of the body and its relation to mind, spirit, and environment. In TCM, balance is sought in the body and mind based on a system of 5 elements. The relationship between the elements—each of which corresponds to a specific organ system— helps us to use TCM in the diagnosis and treatment of health problems. A veterinary TCM practitioner might use acupuncture, herbs, or a combination to treat anxiety in your pet. If you are interested in applying TCM principles at home, a good place to start is the book, A Guide To Chinese Medicine for Cats and Dogs by Cheryl Schwartz DVM.
- Microcurrent Therapy for Pets with Anxiety – As you know, our own Dr. John and Dr. Lorry Hache are pioneers in the use of microcurrent to address chronic disorders of all kinds, including anxiety. While we work primarily with people, we’ve seen many cases of pets with mild to severe anxiety being helped tremendously through microcurrent therapy. Microcurrent is one of the most gentle, soothing and effective treatments ever imagined when used correctly. The latest in PEMF interventions permit your animal to be treated even while resting or sleeping on their favorite bed, and helps to balance their nervous system so they can be happier and more relaxed.
Our animal companions deserve to feel happy and secure just as much as we do. In fact, helping an anxious pet relax tends to make the whole family feel more at ease. These natural anti-anxiety treatments for pets are excellent ways to support training efforts, and to help give our furry or feathered friends the best quality of life possible.
Our Definitive Guide to Holistic Treatments for Pets
Over the years, we’ve compiled a wealth of information and experience in treating pets holistically. And now, we’re making this information available in a brand new book!
In addition to more in-depth information on all of the holistic treatments listed above, our brand new book includes never-before-published case studies and specific protocols for treating anxiety, arthritis, aging-related issues, and more using microcurrent, acupuncture, and other holistic methods.
Get your copy in Paperback and E-book format today! click here!