You know all about how stress can undermine your health. But did you know that stress also impacts the well-being of animals and especially cats and dogs? If your animal pal seems lethargic or sickly or appears to be acting out, there’s a good chance–once your vet rules out underlying diseases and disorders–that he or she may be reacting to stress.
It’s important to recognize the difference between acute stress, which is immediate and intense, and chronic stress, which results from a long-standing cause (or set of causes). Two of the most damaging stressors present in the lives of many pets are boredom and loneliness. A brief list of other culprits follows:
- DIET–Take a look at the food you’re feeding your cat or dog. The majority of pet foods sold in supermarkets is heavily processed which can cause a variety of health problems in your pet. Consider changing your animal pal’s diet to one that contains raw or “fresh” food which you can find in pet specialty shops and some grocery stores in the refrigerated section.
- LIFESTYLE–Most pets need attention and to spend some quality time with you. If you’re not already doing so, try to take at least an hour every day to play with your pet. Alternately, you can take him or her for a walk or just sit and relax a while with your furry friend. Doing so will go far in helping reduce your pet’s stress levels–and yours, too.
- YOU– Even if you don’t think they can, animals can sense when you’re feeling stressed out which in turn can upset their own equilibrium over time. By taking stock of the stress in your own life and taking measures to more effectively manage it, you can keep yourself and your animal pal free from the physical and emotional ailments that stress can cause.
The experienced DVMs (Doctor of Veterinary Medicine) at Austin Pets and Bird Clinic can determine whether that uncharacteristic listlessness in your cat or dog is the sign of stress. We can help you create a wellness plan to address your pet’s needs so that both you and your furry friend can live healthier, more stress-free lives together.