Cats and dogs are creatures of habit, much like their owners. Anxiety can be brought on by the introduction of new members to a family (four legged or two legged), hectic and changing owner schedules, moving house, loud noises (e.g. thunderstorm/fireworks), lack of stimulation, separation anxiety, as well as illness, discomfort, or disease. Before trying to modify your pets’ behavior, take them to the vet and ensure that they are healthy and not stressed due to pain or illness. After ruling out a physiological reason for your pets’ anxiety, behavior modification techniques can be implemented. These can be as simple as creating a more regimented everyday schedule for your pet or positive reinforcement with small healthy treats. Behavior modification techniques are the cornerstone in treating anxious pets however they can be used in conjunction with psychopharmacology or behavioral medication. Talking with your veterinarian or an animal behavior specialist about the unwanted behavior your pet is exhibiting is the best first step in figuring out the reason for their anxiety and the correct way to manage it.
Lauren Diamant D.V.M.- HAH
University College of Dublin Ireland