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How Stress Affects Your Pet

"The top effect of stress in your pet is a weakened immune system. When your pet is stressed, his body actually releases cortisol, a hormone that helps the body respond to stressors or to certain stressful events."

They say the only constant thing in this world (aside from change) is stress. Well, it might be true especially when we don't know how to properly handle it. If we let it take over us, it can make us anxious, and it can contribute to a lot of health problems.

But have you ever wondered how stress can affect our pets? Yes, stress in dogs and stress in cats is possible and has always been a reality. And if left unchecked, stress can affect our pets as much as it affects us and sometimes even worse!

THE EFFECTS OF STRESS

Dog

A weakened system of body defense.

The top effect of stress in your pet is a weakened immune system. When your pet is stressed, his body actually releases cortisol, a hormone that helps the body respond to stressors or to certain stressful events. Cortisol directs the blood flow to the muscles but when stress becomes too much to handle for your dog or cat, it causes the immune system to deteriorate.

This means your dog or cat will be unable to fight off diseases and infections.

Loss of appetite. Stress can make your pet lose his appetite and too much of it will cause weight loss. This can be a problem especially when your dog or cat is underweight, still young or eats a poor diet.

Diarrhea. Aside from cortisol, your pet's body also releases adrenaline. Adrenaline increases the blood pressure, heart rate, and also comes with some unpleasant things. Adrenaline causes a decreased blood flow to the body's digestive system, thus resulting in diarrhea.

Behavioral changes. Your dog or cat will try to avoid or run away from whatever makes them scared, nervous or anxious. If he doesn't feel secure, stress can trigger aggression. With dogs, they will also tend to fidget - this is a way for dogs to show their excess energy without having to attack something or run away from it.

Stress can also cause your pet to forget the things he's not supposed to do inside your home - like pee or poop in inappropriate places, bite off or chew indigestible objects and a whole lot more!

Slows down recovery process. If your dog or cat has a disease and is recovering, stress can slow down the healing process. As cortisol is released in the body (as mentioned above), it will have an anti-healing effect on your pet. This slows down recovery and greatly manages your dog's ability to heal and fight off the illness.

Urinary problems. As stress creates an anxious pet, peeing can be a way of saying he is scared. The sudden release of what we call the stress hormones relaxes the bladder sphincter and incontinence will occur (where your pet loses partial or full control of his bladder.

HOW TO RELIEVE YOUR PET'S STRESS

Create a safe place. If your pet rushes into a particular area in your house to try to hide, let him stay there. They are considering that to be their safe place. It can also be good for them if you can provide them a bed placed inside a closet, under the table or in a small room.

Keep your fur-baby distracted. Distractions are good for your four-legged friend when you see he is stressed out. You can give him his favorite treat or favorite toy. You can play nice music loudly and get him involved with something else that he might like to get his mind off whatever stresses him!

Diapers and pee pads. Too much stress can make your pet pee or poop in places he shouldn't be. To avoid having to face the scary clean-up of a crazy mess, allow him to wear diapers or you can leave pee pads in this confinement area or cage.

Offer supplements. For dogs, supplements can be very helpful  to be able to manage stress. You can offer multivitamins to keep his immune system on top, and some calming supplements that will soothe his body & relieve tension during stress by triggering specific receptors to communicate between body systems. These supplements also assist in easing an upset stomach, providing comfort during stressful & high-anxiety situations and regulating responses to stress & anxiety.

You know your pet well enough and you know what causes him stress. Keep him away from whatever they are and always let him know you are right beside him, ready to give him the happy and healthy life you both deserve.

"Distractions are good for your four-legged friend when you see he is stressed out. You can give him his favorite treat or favorite toy. You can play nice music loudly and get him involved with something else that he might like to get his mind off whatever stresses him."

The Author:

Micka V.

Micka Virtudazo is a full-time content creator at Pet Parents who lives with thirteen adorable American Bullies and a Shih Tzu-Maltese mix named Gretel. She especially enjoys writing how-to articles as she feels through this she can connect to other pet parents on a more personal level.

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