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Dogs and cats can experience anxiety, fear, and panic. In some instances, this is transient or fleeting
(such as during a thunderstorm or fireworks). However, some pets may experience more frequent manifestations of anxiety associated with things that they commonly encounter. The list of possible triggers includes:

  • People - babies, children, men, skateboarders, people in uniforms, someone who has a different
    appearance (someone wearing a "puffy coat" or someone with a mobility issue)
  • Other dogs, cats, or other animals
  • Separation anxiety
  • Vehicles
  • Noise 
  • Veterinary visits

Some pets can also start out with anxiety or fear to a single trigger and then go on to develop
fear or panic to other triggers (generalized fear or panic). Fears and phobias can adversely affect
an animal's ability to learn or make conscious decisions.

Additional factors that can confound anxiety or fear include:

  • Genetics
  • Poor socialization
  • Restricted environmental experiences
  • Learned aversion - such as that first trip to the veterinarian's office
  • Medical problems

Treating Anxiety

A multimodal approach is often necessary to work through an animal's fear or anxiety problem.
Working with a trainer, animal behavior consultant, or a veterinary behavior specialist can be helpful.
Techniques differ from animal to animal and vary depending on the type of fear or phobia, but may include:

  • Addressing environmental triggers
  • Preventing uncontrolled exposure to triggers
  • Desensitizing / counter-conditioning to triggers
  • Training techniques / behavioral therapy
  • Use of safety tools or harnesses
  • Use of pheromones or other supplements
  • Psychoactive medications
  • Lavender essential oil

Learn more about Calming Tools

The Impact of a Pet's Anxiety on the Owner

Owners of pets suffering from anxiety are also impacted in three major ways - emotionally, in their day-to-day lives, and in their relationships. Read more

Caring for a pet with "special needs" can be very stressful, and caring for yourself is as important as the care you provide for the pet. There is support out there and it's a matter of knowing when to seek help and getting that help that can be key in turning the tables on the problem.


Learn More on The Emotional Impact of a Pet's Separation Anxiety on the Caregiver