Summer can be a relaxing time for us, but for our pets, it can bring about occasional challenges. Between loud Fourth of July fireworks, long absences from owners while they go on vacation, or unexpected guests at home, anxiety in pets may be high. No pet owner wants to see their beloved dog or cat experience any kind of pain or discomfort, but unfortunately, animals aren’t able to tell us when they are experiencing something that isn’t normal and doesn’t feel good. Here are five tips you can use to help ease your pet's anxiety during the summer months, as well as all year long.
- Create a routine
No matter how well you take care of your pet, some canines and felines are just more skittish than others. Routine is an important part of any animal’s life—and a good routine will help calm an anxious pet. If they know what to expect, they won’t be as afraid of new or unknown situations.
Make sure their feeding times occur at the same time each day, as well as their walks and playtime. Keep their toys, leash, bed, and bowl in the same spots around the house. This will help establish a sense of consistency which they can learn to depend on, day in and day out. If you go on vacation and need to leave your pet in the care of someone else, be sure this routine is clearly explained, so that your pet will be about to have this consistency even in your absence.
- Identify any triggers
Pets, like humans, have their own set of triggers. Look for what bothers your pet, such as crowds or loud noises. If you can’t identify anything specific, you can still work to alleviate anxiety. Dogs are especially sensitive to visual triggers and may be calmed by certain types of blankets or other visuals they associate with comfort. Cats are typically sensitive to sounds, so it’s a good idea to introduce them to noisy situations slowly in order to acclimate them and reduce their stress.
If you know fireworks will be at an upcoming picnic, be sure your pets are far away from the action. If you have a long road trip planned and know the car can make your dog howl, look into items that swaddle your pet to make them feel more secure and ease behaviors such as whining and scratching.
- Keep your pet active
Keeping your pet active is key to keeping him or her calm and stress-free. Exercising your dog is not only good for their mental health, but it can also improve cardiovascular fitness and strengthen muscle tone. Walking is a great activity for dogs that live in apartments, but if you live in a house with an area you could fence off, try taking it for a jog. A tired dog is much less likely to get anxious than one who has been sitting around all day.
If you have a cat, there are plenty of ways to keep them from getting bored. You can hide treats throughout your home for them to find and play games with them like fishing for toys under blankets. If you’re going out of town or need someone else to check on your pets while you’re away, ask a friend or family member if they would be willing to stop by every few hours to feed them and play with them.
- Try CBD treats
Like humans, animals have an endocannabinoid system, which means CBD can help them reduce stress and anxiety. CBD can be administered in their food through tinctures or in a variety of tasty treats. Giving your pet a treat before you leave or before a long car ride can help them feel a bit calmer, plus they're sure to love flavors like Steak Bites, Apple Smacks, Sweet Pet-Tato Bites and Bacon Soft Chews.
A few things to keep in mind: if your pet is on medication for behavioral issues like separation anxiety, you’ll want to consult with your vet before supplementing with CBD—and then monitor your pet closely while they take both treatments together.
- Get professional help
Your veterinarian will be able to best determine what is causing your pet's anxiousness and can recommend appropriate treatment options. In extreme cases, pets may require anti-anxiety medication prescribed by a professional. Before deciding on a course of action, it helps to make sure you have considered all possible underlying causes for their behavior and taken steps to manage them appropriately.
For example, if your dog has separation anxiety, he might benefit from being enrolled in doggy daycare or having a dog walker come by each day when you're at work. The more proactive you are about solving problems early on, the less likely they are to escalate into larger issues that could become much more difficult to treat.