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How to Recognize Signs of Anxiety in Pets

Pets who are anxious often turn to destructive behaviors that affect your everyday life. In order to help your pet overcome his anxiety, you need to first recognize the signs and symptoms of anxious behavior, and then determine what is making your pet anxious. You and your veterinarian should work together to create a medical or behavioral modification plan to address your pet’s anxiety. Here’s a look at some common signs of anxiety in pets.

Changes in Body Language

First, your pet might display changes in body language when he is anxious or stressed out. Your pet might shake, pace, hide, or act restless. He may have dilated pupils and blink rapidly. He may lie flat on the ground or on his back with his legs in the air. He may tuck his tail, become rigid, and flatten his ears. Finally, he might pant or breathe heavily. Many pets yawn, drool, or lick when they are stressed out, anxious, or bored. 

Destructive Behaviors

Some pets run and hide when they are stressed out. Others might become more aggressive, displaying their teeth, growling or hissing, or lunging at the thing that is causing them stress. Some pets focus their attention on something else, and might over groom, lick their paws or genitals, or avoid interacting with people or animals. Many pets vocalize their displeasure by growling, barking, whining, hissing, or crying. 

Changes in Bodily Functions

Anxious pets might have changes in bodily functions. They might urinate or defecate in places they aren’t supposed to. They might drink more water than usual, eat more, or refuse food and water. Dogs and cats sometimes shed excessively when they are stressed out. 

If you notice any of these signs of anxiety in your pet, take him to the veterinarian for a checkup. Your veterinarian can determine if there is a physical or environmental reason for your pet’s anxiety and stress.

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