Managing Anxiety in Pets
Much like people, pets may experience variable periods of anxiety. Causes of anxiety in pets may include environmental stresses or changes, including moving to a new home, as well as adding other animals to the household. Anxiety may also result from emotional or physical abuse, or may be secondary to physical disease present anywhere in the body. Finally, some pets simply have an anxious genetic predisposition.Any pet that is suffering from a change in behavior or exhibiting anxiety for more than a few days, should have a complete physical exam and workup at the vet for potential underlying diseases. Symptoms of anxiety may include excessive vocalization/neediness/clinginess, fear of being alone, as well as trembling and hypersensitivity to noise and other stimuli. Some anxious pets will exhibit increased tendency to aggression or biting, known as fear-based aggression.
Treatment will depend upon identifying, if possible, the underlying causes of chronic anxiety. Behavior modification utilizing many training techniques by a professional trainer can be often helpful. Maintaining a consistent schedule at home, including times of feeding/walking and play also can be useful to help manage chronic anxiety in pets.
Prescription medications such as Acepromazine or Xanax can be helpful with short-term anxiety encountered during travel or during storms. More chronic anxiety often can be relieved by prescription medications such as Fluoxetine and Clomipramine, but again would depend upon a full diagnostic workup. Natural remedies such as Be Serene, Composure Liquid, or Rescue Remedy can also be helpful on a short-term or long-term basis. I have also found that chronic homeopathic treatment can help for those pet guardians requesting more natural treatments. To learn more about homeopathy, see Homeopathy: Beyond Flat Earth.