Happy Pets

Anxiety in our pets is common and we usually misread it as “bad behaviour”. Firstly it can occur at any stage in our pet’s life. Importantly the causes of anxiety are multi factorial. However at this time of year, our pets can feel particularly anxious due to the house becoming empty after the school holidays. This article helps to clarify the signs of anxiety for dogs, cats and rabbits, along with tips to give you the power to help get them back to being Happy Pets.

Dogs

Signs of anxiety:

  • · Low appetite when owner is away
  • · Toilet accidents indoors
  • · Barking/Howling
  • · Pacing/Circling
  • · Escaping from the house or garden
  • · Chewing/Digging/Scratching
  • · Exuberant welcome home

How to be happy:

Firstly: Environment Enrichment. Use food puzzle games or Kongs. Even better is to freeze the food filled Kong to make the game last longer. Only do this when you are not at home so as to keep the game new. Leave the TV or radio on for background noise.

Most importantly practice Low Key Arriving and Leaving. In short do not make a fuss of cuddling and crooning over your pet every time you leave home and especially when you arrive back home or come down first thing in the morning. This way your dog won’t make a fuss of it either. Keep up to date with www.petcarevets.ie for more information on this very useful technique.

Likewise with Exercise. Walkies will help to reduce anxiety so ensure your dog is walked every day. It also creates a special bond between you both. A tired dog will sleep and make the time you are away appear less to him. In addition consider signing your dog up to a local day care facility a few times a week, pay for a dog walker or set up a play date with a neighbour’s dog.

In Addition Feel Good Pheromones can be really useful. Sprays, Plug-ins and Collars are available from Your Local Vets. Commercial pheromone sprays or plug in diffusers release a smell that helps to calm your dog (we can’t smell it). You can spray it on bedding, a neckerchief around his collar or place a plug-in diffuser in the room your dog mostly uses.

Finally: Routine. Dogs thrive on routine. Try to keep walkies, play time and feeding to around the same time each day. Your dog will get used of this routine and understand that there is no need to fret as you will be back for that very important belly scratch before bedtime.

Cats

Signs of anxiety:

  • · Lack of appetite when owner is away
  • · Toilets accidents outside of the litter tray
  • · Excessive meowing/howling
  • · Grooming that leads to hair loss
  • · Distrustive scratching of scratching post or furniture
  • · Exuberant welcome home

How to be happy:

Firstly; Environment Enrichment. Make a perch so your cat can watch the outside world go by. Put food into food puzzles or special cat Kongs. Hide pieces of food around the room/house so your cat can hunt. Only do this when you are not at home so as to keep the game new. Leave the TV or radio on for background noise.

Secondly, Prey imitation Toys are available commercially or you can do a bit of DIY and make one yourself with a bit of string and a feather. For fancier prey toys with cameras to allow you to check in and chat with your pet from your phone check out our online store.

Similarly Cat-nip provides great fun for most cats. This leaf is a member of the mint family and triggers a pleasure response in cats. This pleasure response varies from cat to cat and will generally last for 5-15 minutes.

Low key Arriving and Leaving. Don’t make a fuss every time you arrive home or leave. This way your cat won’t make a fuss of it either.

Exercise. Yes, we did say exercise! Cats need it too. Give them a daily work out during playtime and get those heartbeats pumping. Playing also creates a special bond between you both.


In Addition Feel Good Pheromones can be really useful. Sprays, Plug-ins and Collars are available from Your Local Vets. Sprays or plug-ins. Commercial pheromone sprays or plug in diffusers release a smell that helps to calm your cat (we can’t smell it). You can spray it on bedding, a neckerchief around her collar, the scratching post or place a plug-in diffuser in the room your cat mostly uses.

Finally;Routine. Cats are creatures of habit. Try to keep feeding and play time to around the same time each day. Your cat will get used of this routine and understand that her human slave will be home in time for dinner.

Rabbits

Signs of anxiety:

  • · Aggressive grooming/scratching leading to sore skin and hair loss
  • · Faster breathing than normal
  • · Excessive nibbling at his hutch, items in his cage or around the house
  • · Separate to sleeping he will curl up with paws tucked up underneath his body with ears hanging down.

How to be happy:

Safety. Rabbits want to feel safe so ensure that they have adequate room in a hutch to move freely and have a cosy place to hide away. Make sure other pets in the household can’t interfere with the hutch.

Chewing. Rabbits need to chew for a healthy mouth and the majority of this chewing should be done with his food. 80% of his diet should be a good quality hay that needs lots of chewing before swallowing.

Toys. Commercial or DIY toys, such as tunnels or hanging food ball holders, can be a great way to ward off boredom that can lead to anxiety. It also creates a special bond between you both.

Low Key Arriving and Leaving. Don’t make a fuss every time you arrive home or leave. This way your rabbit won’t make a fuss of it either.

Exercise. An enclosed and safe rabbit run is needed to let your rabbit bounce along outside. If your rabbit is an indoor pet then allow him to run around the house/designated room, at least once a day.

Routine. Rabbits love routine and will appreciate the comfort in knowing that a fresh bed along with fresh food and water will be delivered around the same time each day.

A Happy Pet is one who gets enough exercise, the right diet and playtime. Don’t forget lots of hugs and cuddles too. Happy Pets = Happy Owners!

By- Maria Reidy RVN.
Maria is A Registered Veterinary Nurse working at Petcare Vets Charlesland. For more great advice and services, 1 on 1 Nurse Clinics are available with Maria by calling  012870321 or using our Book an Appointment Online Button. For more information click here

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