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What Causes Stress in Pets?

  • Last updated on January 24, 2012

The root of the problem can be both physical and/or emotional. Let’s explore the many common and even uncommon stressors:

Physical Stressors

  • Not enough exercise
  • Extreme temperatures; heat and humidity and/or cold
  • Dehydration and thirst
  • Lack of rest and/or sleep
  • Sickness, infection, pain, and/or injury
  • Food sensitivities and allergies
  • Hunger, malnutrition and/or poor diet
  • Dog shows
  • Female in-season
  • Toxic chemicals
  • Abuse
  • Respiratory problems
  • Rough and/or high activity play, chasing games
  • Excessive exercise

Emotional Stres​sors:

  • Depression and anxiety
  • Moving to a new home
  • Death, human or animal
  • Weather, planetary alignment such as a full moon
  • Veterinary and therapist appointments
  • Conflict with another animal or person
  • Not enough space, no personal space to rest or sleep, no shelter
  • Being in a crate for too long
  • Visitors, especially around the holidays
  • Being rushed 
  • Loud noises, such as fireworks 
  • No opportunity to urinate/defecate
  • Abuse, being shouted at, anger, threatening situations
  • Panic attacks
  • Incense, oils, perfumes, air fresheners, 
  • Lack of relationships
  • DAP Pheromone Diffusers

Not all of these stressors will affect a pet. It depends on the pet’s type and breed, environment and lifestyle, owners, state of health, genetics, tolerance level and ability to cope with stress. 

Survival of the Fittest

It may be difficult to determine if and why the pet is experiencing stress and anxiety. This is because some pets tend to hide any indication that they’re in pain. This behaviour is genetically engrained in them. In the wild, animals are governed by survival of the fittest. If an animal shows any sign of weakness or injury, it becomes a target of prey by its pack members and other predators. 

If the stressors are difficult to determined, the assistance of a behaviourist, pet therapist, and/or veterinarian may prove to be beneficial. 

If the stressors can be determined, then there are several ways to de-stress your pet

A little stress is normal and even necessary. It is what drives dogs to hunt for their food. Yet, when stress becomes prolonged, it poses various health risks