April is Stress Awareness Month. Most every person experiences stress at some point in their life, but did you know that animals do, too?
Pets may experience stress if they are:
- Feeling sick or in pain
- Away from their parents for a long period
- Thirsty or hungry
- Feeling threatened by a new person or pet in the home
- Caged up
- Exposed to loud noises (fireworks, thunder, etc.)
- Moving into a new place
Symptoms of stress may not be as immediately identifiable as they are with humans. Here are some common signs of stress in pets.
- Running away
- Being clingy
- Loss of appetite
- Digestive issues
- Increased sleeping
As a pet owner, you can help your pets prevent or overcome stress. Here are some techniques:
Facilitate exercise. As with humans, a good stress reliever for pets is exercise. As much as you need it, your pets do, too (especially dogs). Allow them to play outdoors and take them on regular walks.
Provide toys. For cats, give them puzzle feeders or stimulated prey. Allow them to chase a string or other object. For dogs, any puzzle toys or food-dispensing toys will do. The old standard game of catch is great, too. Playing stimulates brain activity which has been shown to relieve pet stress.
Change their diet. Your pet’s food plays an integral part in their overall health and well-being. Make sure they’re getting enough vitamins and nutrition by opting for healthier, nutrient rich foods (cheaper isn’t always better).