pet anxiety.

Anxiety isn’t just a human problem. At the Animal Hospital of West Woodstock, we see and diagnose many anxious pets with related behavioral and medical issues. Coping with pet stress can be a difficult task, but we have lots of tips for pet anxiety management to help. 

Recognizing Anxious Pets

Would you know if your pet was experiencing anxiety? Understanding body language can definitely help you to recognize when stress begins to mount. 

A confident, happy dog will have relaxed body language with ears and tail in a neutral position. As anxiety increases, the pet may pant, pace, tremble, drool, withdraw from its owner, or hide. Some may even become agitated or aggressive, bark, or growl. The tail will often be low or tucked, the ears back, and the eyes dilated or showing lots of white around them. They may seem more hesitant overall. 

Cats can be a little harder to read, but they also have body language cues that are recognizable. Tail flicking, dilated pupils, pricked whiskers, and ears in “airplane” mode are evidence of a stressed kitty. 

Being able to recognize body language and behaviors that indicate a pet may be experiencing anxiety can help us as their caretakers to provide better care. 

Types of Pet Anxiety

There are several different reasons a pet may be experiencing anxiety. Some of the more common causes include:

  • Noise phobias (thunderstorms, fireworks, and traffic are common triggers)
  • Separation anxiety (overdependence on humans for comfort)
  • Change in routine
  • Change in environment
  • Issues between pets in a household 
  • Negative associations with an area, sound, or experience

Once you recognize that your pet may be experiencing anxiety, trying to pinpoint the source can help you to help them cope. 

Coping with Pet Stress

There are certainly some ways to help your pet with their anxiety. Depending on the source of your pet’s stress, you can often make some changes and adjustments to help.


  • Removing the source of anxiety if possible
  • Providing a stable and predictable routine
  • Managing your own stress levels (you affect your pet more than you realize)
  • Providing daily structured interaction and exercise 
  • Using interactive toys and puzzles to give mental energy a good outlet
  • Working to desensitize and counter condition to known triggers
  • Removing small stressors where possible—even when they aren’t the main issue, doing this can prevent an additive effect
  • Utilize synthetic pheromones to help create a calm environment
  • Use white noise where applicable to drown out scary sounds
  • Create a safe space for your pet with familiar items
  • Provide plenty of resources like food, toys, and sleeping areas for your pet to choose from

There are also some great over the counter anti-anxiety supplements that can be helpful for some pets. 

Sometimes your pet may need a little more help for stress management. In these cases, our knowledgeable team can help to assess the situation and provide prescription medications where appropriate. 

Minimizing stress can help your pet to live a longer and healthier life, and we are all for that. Contact us today if you need help achieving this for your furry friend.