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January 11, 2010 at 2:34 PMComments: 0 Faves: 0

Tips to Relieve your Pet's Stress

By Smarty More Blogs by This Author

When We Leave Our Pets Alone

Though people may not think about it as much, pets can get just as stressed as we can. However, many pet owners fail to recognize or ignore classic stress symptoms in their dog, confusing the symptoms for signs of disobedience, or not understanding that the life we choose for ourselves may not be the life that dogs necessarily would. While stress is a part of anyone's life, animal or human, we can learn more about how to recognize it and what causes it.

Recognizing Stress in Your Pet

There are common signs that a pet can show that they are experiencing a stressful situation. These can be shown throughout various areas of the body. Body Posture

  • Body appears tense and stiff
  • Body seems droopy with tired appearance
  • Body lowered, not cowering but slinking along
  • Change in pace
  • Difference in sitting down
  • Stretching
  • Skin twitching
  • Tail wag is different than normal


  • Barking
  • Whining


  • Avoids eye contact (turns head away)
  • Blinking
  • Dilated pupils
  • Glazed look
  • Looks to handler frequently for directions
  • Red pigment around eyes (also inner ears)
  • Squinting
  • Shifty eyes
  • Whale eye, white showing


  • Drooling
  • Jaw clomping
  • Licking lips or nose
  • Panting
  • Velvet tongue
  • Yawning


  • Ears back or uneven
  • Furrowed brow
  • Mouth corners back
  • Veins prominent under eyes


  • Circling and returning to owner in arc path
  • Comes to you in an attention getting manner
  • Digging
  • Just sits or lies down
  • Out of context behaviors
  • Paws sweating
  • Sniffing
  • Stops to chew on self or scratch
  • Tail held lower than normal

Many of these signals can be very subtle and sometimes hard to recognize, but can be seen with keen observation.

What Causes Pet Stress

There are various factors that cause pet stress. Factors can range greatly, but these are the most common:

  • Aggression from owners or other dogs
  • Being hungry or thirsty
  • Car, boat, or plane travel
  • Changes in the pack hierarchy
  • Confinement
  • Death of an owner or fellow pet
  • Domestic upheaval (moving, visiting a new location)
  • Far too many restrictions
  • Lack of physical or mental stimulation (boredom)
  • Loud noises (such as fireworks, thunderstorms and parties)
  • Negative commands
  • Not being able to toilet when they needs to
  • Physical discomfort or pain
  • Separation

Treating the Effects of Pet Stress

In helping a pet control their stress levels, such effort may also mean controlling the stress level in a person as well. Diet and exercise are always keys to reducing stress. Eating a balanced high quality diet consists of getting plenty of nutritious food and water. A healthy diet can keep the brain and memory functioning. Keeping a daily exercise routine is equally as important. It keeps a pet healthy and fit, and makes sure that animals do not become bored and frustrated. Pets can also sense the emotions of their owners. For that reason, it is important to work on a person's stress levels so they do not carry negatively over to their pet.

Pets Have Feelings Too

By remembering that pets have individual wants and needs as well, it will be easier to recognize when a pet is feeling the effects of stress and actively take steps to remedy the situation.


Photo Credit: Petteri Sulonen

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