Does My Pet Have Anxiety?

 In Pet Care

Anxiety can get the best of us, but did you know it can affect your pets as well? If you’re unsure if your pet is experiencing some form of anxiety, try looking for these factors.

Anxious Pets

Anxiety is defined as generalized feelings of apprehension, unease, or nervousness regarding an event, outcome, threat, or sometimes danger. Pets learn to react to certain situations based on previous experiences. For example, a dog who has experienced severe trauma from a man, might fear males in the future even though they have done nothing to the dog. In addition, anxiety can be situational, like when your pet visits the vet or is left home alone. Unfortunately, our pets can’t talk to us and tell us what they are exactly feeling. This is why it’s so important to observe your pet’s behavior if you have a suspicion they are anxious or nervous.


Each pet is different, so they may show signs of anxiety that may differ from one pet to another.


These are common signs of anxiety in dogs. If you feel your dog is not acting right, contact your vet right away.

  • excessive barking or howling when left alone
  • panting or pacing
  • shivering
  • running away or cowering somewhere hidden
  • excessive digging
  • escaping the yard or home
  • destroying furniture
  • obsessive chewing or licking
  • not eating
  • frequent urination
  • inability to settle down
  • looking away
  • lifting paws


Some of the ways cats display anxious behaviors are similar to dogs, but some are different.

  • avoiding eye contact
  • shifting body or head away
  • holding their tail between their body
  • slight tail flicking
  • ears partially to the side
  • dilated pupils
  • increased heart rate
  • hair standing up
  • staring
  • holding their ears back
  • trying to hide or escape
  • excessive meowing


The treatment advised by vets will again depend on the severity of the anxiety. If you know certain stimuli or triggers that spark anxiety in your pet, your vet may ask you to remove that or adjust the situation. In addition, it can include managing the pet’s environment, training, supplements, or medication. You want to ensure you are creating a positive and enriching environment for your pets, so they have a place to feel safe. You can provide toys or treats with certain things to try to promote positive associations. For example, you give your dog his favorite toy when you leave for work or anytime you are not around. That way, your pet associates getting their toy with your absence, even if it’s just for an hour. You should thoroughly discuss treatment options with your vet to find the proper plan for your furry friend.

To learn more about anxiety in pets, please visit Andes-Straley Veterinary Hospital or call us at (423) 378-4443 today!