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Posts Tagged ‘anxiety in pets’

Last Thursday, we posted an article about aggression in cats, written by a Michigan veterinarian. The post focused on multi-cat households. In today’s post, the focus turns to understanding feline body language and how to respond to an agitated cat.

In the Summer 2017 issue of BluePearl’s Companion, Dr. Jill Sackman, DVM, DACVS, PhD, of BluePearl in Michigan writes,

How Can You Tell When Your Cat is Upset?
“Unfortunately, humans don’t do a great job reading feline body language in order to de-escalate a stressed or aggressive cat. Understanding feline body language can help with avoiding conflict, its escalation and aggression.
“Cats use a combination of visual, olfactory [sense of smell] and audible communication to communicate and to avoid confrontation. Threatening feline body postures include hissing, piloerection [fur standing on end], arching of the back and side presentation. Ear position is also a helpful stress barometer. Cats that are restricted in movement (i.e. cages, transport boxes) may choose to fight when unable to flee. The ability to get away, hide under something or jump up high can influence the expression of the aggressive responses.”

What To Do About An Aggressive Cat?
Try Understanding:
“The most frequent basis for aggression from cats to people revolves around fear, anxiety*, frustration and misdirected predatory behavior. Fearful cats learn that aggressive stances are effective at maintaining distance between them and people, and the behavior can evolve to a preemptive strategy.”

[*See more about anxiety in pets here.]

Try a Time-Out:
“Play-based aggression may arise from predatory play, which is an integral part of feline behavior and learning. Treatment is focused on finding outlets for play and directing the cat toward appropriate activities and toys. Playing with hands should be discouraged.
“Redirected aggression occurs when a cat faces an agitating circumstance and is unable to vent aggression. Stimuli include loud noises, odor of another cat, unfamiliar people or environments, and pain. Agitated cats† should be placed in a darkened room with food, water and litter box and left there with the door closed. If the aggression was directed at another unsuspecting feline, very SLOW reintroduction must be done.
“Punishment is contraindicated [i.e. not recommended] in all cases as this will lead to a worsening of the behavior.”

Dr. Miele notes that picking up or otherwise handling an angry cat can result in injury to the owner or handler. If you cannot safely remove the cat from the room, consider removing all people and other pets from the room, instead.

Dr. Sackman stresses that an aggressive cat should have a medical check-up to look for health problems that may lead to aggressive behavior. She also recommends evaluating the home environment to look for triggering circumstances that can be addressed appropriately.

Note: Your veterinarian is the best source of information on dealing with aggression in cats. An examination and testing may be necessary to discover underlying physical problems that may be at the root of feline aggression. To avoid injury to yourself or others in the household, talk to your pet’s veterinarian, or ask for a referral to an animal behavior specialist.* (*Not available in all areas.)

 

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In Part 1 of Understanding Anxiety in Pets, we defined anxiety, described causes and associated behaviors, and looked at the top reasons pets are relinquished and euthanized.

In Part 2 of Understanding Anxiety in Pets, we examined the different methods available to treat anxiety in pets. We mentioned nutritional supplements, such as Zylkene and Solliquin.

Today, in Part 3 of Understanding Anxiety in Pets, we will take a look at how nutritional supplements affect anxious pets, to give them relief.

In a pet’s brain, there are several neurotransmitters that affect mood:

  • Glutamate: causes fear, anxiety, excitement. Ideally, glutamate levels are suppressed in an effort to reduce behavioral issues associated with fear and anxiety.
  • GABA: Essentially the opposite of glutamate, it can be increased in order to produce calm via an inhibitory effect.
  • Serotonin: low levels lead to depression; it can be increased indirectly, using supplements that convert to serotonin in the brain.

Zylkene is a product containing hydrolyzed milk protein. The tryptophan content of the milk protein can be converted to serotonin in the pet’s brain, producing a calming effect.

Solliquin contains L-theanine, an amino acid that binds to glutamate receptors without activating them; instead, it blocks glutamate and stimulates alpha brain waves, known to lead to deep relaxation, while the pet remains awake and aware.

Another ingredient, Phellodendron (not to be confused with toxic philodendron), also blocks the release of glutamate. It is used in combination with Magnolia extract, which enhances GABA receptors in the brain, allowing more GABA to enter the synapse and producing a calming effect. Magnolia and Phellodendron appear to work better together, than they do alone.

Solliquin contains milk whey protein, which has tryptophan in it, again converting to serotonin to increase this important neurotransmitter in the pet’s brain, helping to regulate mood.

When is it appropriate to use nutritional supplements for behavior issues?

  • early stage anxiety
  • mild anxiety
  • predictable changes (storm, travel, holidays, moving)
  • before a visit to the vet
  • as adjunct therapy (including behavioral modification and conditioning)

If you suspect that your pet is showing signs of anxiety, Contact Us at Little Creek Veterinary Clinic, so we can schedule an appointment to discuss your pet’s behavior today.

Est. 1973

 

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On Tuesday, we learned about the signs and causes of anxiety in pets. Today, we will focus on treatment methods of anxiety in pets, to reduce the chances that a pet will be relinquished or euthanized due to anxiety-related behavioral problems.

The top reasons for pet relinquishment are:

  • house soiling
  • destruction of property
  • hyperactivity
  • aggression

Dogs and cats can exhibit the behaviors listed above in response to a real or perceived threat. A real threat incites fear, whereas a perceived threat causes anxiety in pets. 

Treatment of anxiety in pets is often a 3-part process:

Avoidance of fear object + behavioral modification and conditioning + anxiolytics

Anxiolytics are medications or supplements used to treat anxiety. They can be synthetic pheromones, pharmaceuticals, or nutritional supplements.

Synthetic pheromones (such as D.A.P. for dogs and Feliway for cats) mimic chemical secretions that animals produce as a way of communicating to themselves and others of their species.
Cats secrete calming pheromones from glands in their face. (By contrast, the pheromones secreted during urine spraying incite aggressive, territorial behavior.)
Dog-calming synthetic pheromones mimic pheromones found in bitches’ milk.

Pharmaceuticals (drugs) target chemicals within the brain to achieve their proper balance, which helps provide mood stability. Unfortunately, drugs can have side effects; also, most anti-anxiety drugs are labeled for human use. Although these medicines have been safely used in pets, they are not pet-specific.

Nutritional supplements use natural ingredients to achieve proper balance in brain chemicals. They do not have the side effects found in pharmaceuticals, and they are prepared and labeled specifically for pets. Zylkene and Solliquin are two pet-specific nutritional supplements used to treat anxiety in pets.

Pharmaceuticals and nutritional supplements are available through your pet’s veterinarian.

Coming up in Understanding Anxiety in Pets, Part 3: a closer look at Zylkene and Solliquin and how they work to treat anxiety in pets.

If you suspect that your pet is showing signs of anxiety, Contact Us at Little Creek Veterinary Clinic, so we can schedule an appointment to discuss your pet’s behavior today.

Est. 1973

 

 

 

 

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I’ve written about dogs and fear, and now we’ll talk about pets and anxiety.

To start, what is the difference between fear, anxiety, and phobia in pets?
Fear is a natural response to a stimulus that is present or proximal. In other words, the fear object is a “clear and present danger.”
Anxiety is apprehension of an anticipated danger or threat; it is a response to an idea, rather than an object. 
Phobia is an excessive, irrational fear, without presence of a true threat.

Signs of Anxiety in Dogs

  • panting
  • hypersalivation
  • hiding
  • escape behaviors
  • barking 
  • trembling

Typical Causes of Anxiety in Dogs

  • noise (fire alarms, fireworks)
  • thunderstorms
  • separation from owner
  • general anxiety disorders
  • traveling
  • boarding
  • grooming
  • vet visits

Signs of Anxiety in Cats

  • hiding
  • eliminating outside litterbox
  • aggression (hissing, spitting)
  • urine spraying
  • overgrooming / fur pulling
  • recurrent infections

Typical Causes of Anxiety in Cats

  • change (new people, pets, litter, litterbox, food, furniture)
  • illness
  • pain
  • aging
  • confinement
  • noises
  • traveling
  • vet visits

As a result of untreated anxiety disorders or phobias, pets can develop undesirable behaviors. These behaviors can cause the pet owner to consider euthanasia or relinquishment of the animal.

Top Reasons for Pet Relinquishment

  • house soiling
  • destruction of property
  • hyperactivity
  • aggression

What can be done about anxiety in pets? We will discuss options in Part 2 of Understanding Anxiety in Pets. Stay tuned!

If you suspect that your pet is showing signs of anxiety, Contact Us, so we can schedule an appointment to discuss your pet’s behavior today.

Est. 1973

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