Anxiety happens. But is pet anxiety different from people anxiety? How can you tell when your animal’s anxiety has crossed a line? Most importantly, what can you do to help your pet find calm – and you along with them? Shannon of Animal Love Languages helps you help your pet feel better.
How do you act when you feel anxious? Do you hide? Shout? Cling? Feel the need to pee anywhere and everywhere – even if you just went literally 5 seconds ago?
Do you eat yourself sick or completely lose your appetite? Do you start eating strange things or drinking excessively or hoarding or cleaning everything in sight?
Pets use many of the same anxiety coping strategies people do.
And just like we do with anxious people, we pet parents often misunderstand anxiety symptoms in our animals and either ignore them or treat them as something other than what they are.
Speaking of which, this is not a veterinary blog and I am not a veterinarian. So keep that in mind as you read and always (ALWAYS) consult a veterinary professional appropriate for your pet’s species if you suspect anything at all might be amiss.
That being said, from an animal communication standpoint, which is the standpoint I am coming from in my line of work, you can also view any and all anxiety-based symptoms your pet may be exhibiting as attempts to communicate.
What kinds of messages might your pet be trying to convey?
To date, I have noticed that anxiety-based pet messages tend to fall into these basic categories:
- I don’t feel safe
- I don’t have what I need
- I don’t have enough of what I need
- I don’t trust that I will get what I need when I need it
- I don’t feel good and I don’t know why and I don’t know how to fix it
There are many iterations of these basics, of course, and getting to the bottom of why your pet is feeling anxious is what animal communication is literally made for.
One more general fact to know about pet anxiety is this: highly anxious pets also tend to be highly sensitive pets.
I talked a lot about the identifying characteristics and qualities of a highly sensitive pet (HSPet) in an earlier blog post, so if you are wondering if you have a HSPet in your household, you might want to head over to read this post.
For the specific purposes of talking about pet anxiety, it is helpful to emphasize that, like all traits, the trait of high sensitivity exists along a spectrum.
At the high-functioning end of the spectrum, high sensitivity looks like intuition, empathy, an inner equipoise that manifests as balance and calm even in the midst of chaos.
At the low-functioning end of the spectrum, high sensitivity can show up as separation anxiety, destructiveness, self-harm, all kinds of so-called “mystery” health issues, aggression, sleep disturbances, “problem” pet behaviors, you name it.
So how do you help your pet manage their sensitivity when it erupts as anxiety?
Is your highly anxious pet highly sensitive?
The first thing I recommend is to do your utmost to try to identify if your anxious pet might also have the trait of high sensitivity.
One potentially helpful method of identifying whether you have a highly sensitive pet who is stuck at the low-functioning end of the spectrum is to compare your individual pet’s behavior with the general behavior of their species and/or breed. Is your animal’s behavior fairly consistent with what is known about that species and/or breed? Or is it way off the baseline?
And as I mentioned in the disclaimer early in this post, it is also vital to make sure your veterinarian gets involved right away to rule out any underlying health issues.
Can you identify what is triggering the anxious behavior?
The next step is to identify as best you can what triggers your pet’s anxious behavior.
For example, does your dog only exhibit anxiety just before dinner or when the cat next door poops in your backyard? Does your parrot only get anxious when you are preparing to leave for work in the morning? Is your cat fine until you turn the television on at night?
Start keeping notes. Notice when your pet is doing great and when the anxiety kicks in. Try to identify any patterns.
Did the anxiety develop before or after you met?
The next step is to consider whether or not you may be doing something (or not doing something) that triggers your pet’s anxiety.
If your pet came to you with the anxious pattern or habit already in place, this is good information you need. And if your pet has only recently started to act out in anxious ways, this is also good information you need.
Have you asked your animal about their anxiety directly?
There is something one of my teachers, Don Miguel Ruiz, says that I absolutely love – “don’t make assumptions.”
Ruiz teaches that it is much better to ask questions than to make assumptions. Another way to say this might be to “get the information straight from the horse’s mouth.”
In other words, when you don’t know, ask. In this case, ask your animal. Ask your pet directly about their anxiety.
Pet anxiety is one of the top reasons pet parents schedule an animal communication session with me. We can ask questions and find out why your pet is anxious, what is causing your animal’s anxiety, what your pet needs to feel calm again.
We can ask about different remedies or solutions and even negotiate to ease the anxiety without putting you, the pet parent, in an impossible situation (for instance, if your dog says they will only feel calm if they can be with you every second 24/7 – obviously, some negotiation and compromise will be needed there!).
Could animal Reiki help?
Reiki is its own method of animal communication, and a powerful one at that. While I personally use Reiki energy in every animal communication session I facilitate, pet Reiki can also be a standalone treatment that is every bit as beneficial.
And I often recommend a standalone animal Reiki session after an animal communication session as the pet and their person begin to work with the information received from the session.
Reiki truly can work miracles, especially when there is underlying chronic anxiety in the mix. I have seen this in the Reiki treatments I have done and have personally experienced it myself in the Reiki treatments I have received.
Is your pet anxious, stressed, tense, aggressive, irritable or “off” in a way you cannot readily account for? I can help.