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  • Writer's pictureKim Harrington

Anxiety Unleashed: Exploring the Effects of Stress on our Pets

dog hiding from stress
Dogs under stress can hide and have behavioral issues

During the pandemic, I was busy with calls from pet parents asking me to help 'fix' their anxious pets. They all said that something changed recently and they weren't acting like themselves. They hid, barked more, and became reactive on walks. Some were not eating or sleeping well. I asked many questions about the pet's health and if there were any recent household changes that could be causing it. Then I turned towards the parents and asked how they were doing. Everyone seemed surprised when I turned my attention to them. Many didn't realize it at first, but every household was going through major life changes and stressful situations on top of the pandemic. The solution was to be found with the pet parent's nervous system.

Pets are often seen as stress relievers for their owners. However, it's not always a one-way street. Your pet can be affected by your stress levels, which may negatively impact their well-being.

Studies show that the bond between a pet and its owner can be significant. So when an owner is experiencing stress, it's not uncommon for pets to mirror their behavior. Unfortunately, pets cannot communicate their feelings in words, so it's critical to recognize the signs of stress to help alleviate the burden.

One way to understand if your pet is stressed is by observing any changes in their behavior. They may become more aggressive or withdrawn. For instance, a typically friendly and social pet who suddenly begins hiding or avoiding contact with people could be indicating some level of anxiety.

Pets can also experience physiological reactions to your stress. For example, when a dog senses its owner's unease, its own nervous system can become activated, leading to increased heart rate, rapid breathing, and other symptoms commonly associated with anxiety.

The long-term effects of stress on your pet can be harmful, and the earlier you spot them, the sooner you can try to mitigate them. Stress on pets can compromise their immune system, making them more susceptible to illnesses. Besides, stress can lead to behavioral changes that can affect their general happiness and quality of life.

Here are some ways to help reduce your pet's stress levels:

  1. Maintain a routine and familiar surroundings

  2. Regular exercise and playtime

  3. Try to limit external stress factors like loud noises or sudden movements

  4. Set aside some bonding time with them daily

  5. Create a relaxing environment with gentle lighting, scents, or background music.

  6. Create a peaceful healing environment where you can share a meditation together.

In conclusion, our pets are an essential part of our lives, and their happiness and well-being are important. We must remember that our stress can affect our pets' health and happiness too. By recognizing the signs, we can reduce their stress levels and ensure that they remain our furry, stress-relieving companions for years to come.

Reach out to me here at if you would like additional coaching support for stress or trauma. It could be the difference for both you and your pets.

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