VET’s VIEW: Identify the causes of stress in cats and dogs

Look out for signs of stress
Look out for signs of stress

Carly’s Mum could have been forgiven for thinking she’d walked into a snowstorm when she arrived home.

But the fluffy white layer on her living room floor turned out to be the stuffing from her sofa cushions, whose chewed covers now lined the bed where Carly lay dejectedly.

It’s easy to blame our pets when they exhibit troublesome behaviour, and their skulking demeanour seems to confirm their guilt, although in truth, it is more likely to be a response to our own annoyance.

But the root cause is often some sort of stress rather than wilful destruction for its own sake, and it is important to understand the underlying reasons if we are to restore harmony to the home.

In dogs, stress maybe indicated by excessive barking, restlessness and inappropriate toileting, as well as the sort of destructive behaviour Carly was showing.

In cats it is less obvious as they tend to want to hide themselves away, although a stress induced cystitis is a common sign to watch out for.

Identifying the cause of stress is not always easy.

In dogs, being left alone for extended periods can lead to anxiety.

Conversely for cats, it’s often unwelcome visitors, such as that tomcat from next-door poking his head through the cat flap, that upset their equilibrium.

And of course summer thunderstorms and later, fireworks, can set off the most chilled of pets.

Here at Northdale we are currently offering free de-stress clinics with our nurses.

They will help you to pinpoint the causes of stress and offer strategies to combat them, as well as identifying more serious issues that may require specialist behavioural counselling or medical treatment.

Of course we can’t promise miracles, but at least it may help to prevent more snow in summer!

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