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The mental health of our pets

Just like humans our pets can have different characters and quirks.  While this can be very endearing, pet behaviours are also influenced by a combination of genetics, early socialisation, and ongoing physical or mental experiences.

Sometimes, if a pet has an anxious or highly-strung personality or had stressful experiences, especially when young, they can develop behavioural conditions such as anxiety, compulsive or obsessive disorders or aggressive behaviours.

What are some indicators that your pet needs your help?   

Some common clues that a certain behaviour is an issue is if it prevents you from enjoying general day to day life, or your pet is missing out on good things because they are acting up. You may have an issue:

  • Taking your pet out
  • With grooming or vet visits
  • Having visitors come to your house
  • Leaving your pet at home alone

Owners should seek help if any human is at risk, or the pet may hurt themselves with the behavioural issue.  Symptoms may be:

  • Storm phobia where the pet may injure themselves while attempting to escape
  • Separation anxiety or depression when left alone
  • Aggressive behaviours like the pet inappropriately guards objects or territory
  • Obsessive behaviours such as tail chasing, compulsive licking or grooming
  • Compulsive licking or general anxiety

What can I do? 

If your pet is showing worrying behaviours, it’s always best to seek advice from your vet or qualified behaviouralist to discuss options.  They will take a full history and rule out any underlying medical conditions or causes of the issue such as pain or neurological conditions.

Depending upon the situation, often the following courses of actions will be recommended.

  • Environmental enrichment or changes to the way they live day to day
  • Work with a fear free trainer to help set them off in a better direction and redirect their behaviour
  • Start behaviour modifying medications, either pharmaceutical or natural approaches
  • Referring you to a veterinarian behaviouralist for ongoing support, monitoring and improvements

The best plan is to find the appropriate approach for you and your pet

 Our findings are that a combination of the above are most useful to get over emerging and ongoing problems.  To be personally committed to better outcomes.  To love your cat or dog by being kind and consistent and help them to be as happy as they can.  This will help them, and you, to have a better quality of life and contribute greatly to the mental health of your pet.

For natural options that are proven, safe and clinically trialled by Vets please consider Anxocare.  A herbal formulation with well known herbs to support mental health. Containing Ashvagandha, Winter Cherry and Brahmi as well as selected vital minerals Anxocare works to calm stress and anxiety.