Much like their human caretakers, cats and dogs can feel stress and anxiety caused by internal or external factors.
Some internal factors stem from diseases that inhibit your pet’s ability to function normally in their day-to-day lives.
These diseases include heartworm and intestinal parasites that can cripple even the mightiest of dogs. Other illnesses are FIV (Feline Immunodeficiency Virus) and FelV (Feline Leukemia Virus), and these can severely distress cats.
So, to combat these ailments and boost your pet’s mental health, check out the below guide.
These tips will help you understand your pets’ symptoms, take action when needed and maintain a consistent pattern of treatment in the long run.
How To Boost Your Pet’s Mental Health
Understanding Your Pets’ Symptoms
It’s one thing for your dog to foam at the mouth when she’s excited upon arriving at the dog run.
But it’s an entirely different ball game when she does this out of fear or stress caused by internal or external factors.
That’s why it’s important to grasp the nature of your pet’s discomfort as soon as possible.
One way to do this is by process of elimination. That’s to say, eliminating what you suspect is not contributing to your pet’s anxiety.
For example, if your cat or dog is suddenly trembling like a washer/dryer on high-speed mode, ask yourself if this behavior can be attributed to a new diet, external sounds, or simply the sight of suitcases by the front door, which can trigger your pet’s depression at the thought of you leaving them behind to go on a trip.
If this happens, try consoling your pet with physical contact. You can stroke their coats gently or hug them to your chest. If the shivering won’t subside, try moving them to a different room in your home where they’ll feel more at ease.
Cats and small dogs, for instance, might retreat to a dark space like underneath the couch or bed. On the other hand, larger dogs might need a bit more help in finding solace. This is where a “safe space environment” comes in, and it can work wonders for your medium-to-large canines. Try introducing a crate as a “haven” or a corner in your home where they feel sheltered from whatever causes their distress.
Desensitize Your Pets
Have you ever learned to swim by jumping into the deep end of the pool and “figuring it out?”
The same principle can be applied to how to boost your pet’s mental health and help them overcome their anxieties.
For instance, some cats might hiss at shadows and dogs might bark at unfamiliar ringtones on your mobile devices.
Rather than ignore the root of their anxieties, you can try desensitizing your pets by exposing them to the stimulus that causes their discomfort. The trick is to gradually increase the level of sensitivity until the element that triggers your dog’s stressful response is removed.
With the example of the unfamiliar ringtone, you can try playing this on your phone at a low volume while conditioning your pet to associate that tune with something positive. You can then gradually increase the volume of the ringtone until your pet no longer shows stressful symptoms.
A great way to accomplish this is to command your pet’s attention by keeping strong eye contact, soothing them in a gentle voice and offering them a few tasty treats while exposing them to the stimulus.
At-home remedies can lead to much success when it comes to boosting your pet’s mental health. But some bouts of anxiety are so drastic that you might be impelled to administer medication to your pets.
But before doing so, consult with your Vet to determine the best plan-of-action and fully understand the side effects of treatment.
It’s important to keep in mind that drugs will only help with one element of the picture: they alleviate the symptoms, not the root of the problem.
Therefore, it’s important to combine medication with other methods to ease your pet’s anxiety. For example, you can play soothing music upon administering anti-depressants or calming CBD oil (if you need help choosing some relaxing tunes, check out Mika Georgia’s Top 5 Spotify Playlists To Ease Your Dog’s Anxiety!)
You can also combine medication with desensitization techniques (like in the ringtone example above) and add more positive reinforcement rewards once you notice that your pet’s feeling more relaxed.
How to boost your pet’s mental health places special emphasis on consistency.
It’s not enough to understand the symptoms causing your pet’s distress, nor to apply desensitization techniques and medicate responsibly.
It’s even more important to remain consistent with all three practices to ensure that your pets can thrive daily.
After all, they might come into contact with new, unfamiliar stimuli that causes them to hide in a dark corner with their tails between their legs!
When this happens, be sure to revisit each process on how to boost your pet’s mental health. More importantly, be persistent in your resolve to promote your pet’s mental health and well-being, no matter what challenges you’ll both face in the future.
By applying these techniques, we hope that you and your pets will live happy, harmonious lives.