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Home DOG TRAVEL 101Dog Travel Anxiety Understanding Pet Anxiety: Causes and Symptoms

Understanding Pet Anxiety: Causes and Symptoms

by Bella Woof
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As pet owners, we all strive to provide our furry friends with the best possible care and love. Unfortunately, despite our best efforts, pets can develop anxiety that can cause them to feel emotional distress, nervousness, and discomfort. It can be challenging to understand what causes pet anxiety and how to alleviate it. In this article, we’ll provide more information about the causes and symptoms of pet anxiety and how to address it to ensure a happy and healthy pet.

What is Pet Anxiety?

Pet anxiety refers to a set of behavioral and psychological disorders that appear in animals, manifested by abnormal and uncontrollable fear, stress, and panic. The stress and fear can be so intense that the pet’s behavior can change drastically, including aggressiveness, destructiveness, excessive barking or meowing, and nervousness. It is a common problem for many pet owners, and it can take a significant toll on the pet’s health and well-being.

Like humans, pets can experience different types of anxiety, and each type has unique causes and symptoms. The most common types of pet anxiety include:

1. Separation Anxiety

Separation anxiety is a disorder that affects a pet’s behavior when they’re left alone at home or apart from the owner. Pets that suffer from separation anxiety often display destructive behavior, such as chewing furniture or household items, defecating in the house, or excessive whining or barking. This type of anxiety is more common in dogs but also occurs in cats.

2. Noise Anxiety

Noise anxiety is a type of phobia that occurs when a pet becomes very afraid or anxious from certain noises like thunderstorms, fireworks, or other loud sounds. Symptoms of noise anxiety include hiding, trembling or shaking, pacing, or trying to escape from the house.

3. Social Anxiety

Social anxiety is a disorder that occurs when a pet becomes afraid or anxious about being in social situations or around other animals or people. This type of anxiety can cause the pet to hide, cower, or become aggressive in response to the perceived threat.

4. Travel Anxiety

Travel anxiety is a type of anxiety that affects pets when they’re taken outside their normal environment. It can occur when traveling in a vehicle, for example, or even on a walk. Symptoms of this anxiety can include restlessness, excessive panting or drooling, and whining or barking.

What Causes Pet Anxiety?

There are many potential factors that can cause anxiety in pets. Some of the most common causes of pet anxiety include:

1. Genetics

Inherited traits can play a significant role in causing anxiety in some pets. Certain breeds are prone to anxiety, such as German Shepherds, Bichon Frises, and Cavalier King Charles Spaniels.

2. Traumatic Experiences

Pets that have experienced traumatic events, such as abuse, neglect, accidents, or other types of emotional distress, are at a much higher risk of developing anxiety.

3. Lack of Socialization

Pets that do not get exposed to different people, animals, or environments during their critical socialization period may develop anxiety when exposed to these situations later in life.

4. Medical Conditions

Medical conditions, such as thyroid disorders, can cause anxiety in pets. Additionally, pets with chronic pain or illnesses may develop anxiety as a result of their condition.

5. Environmental Changes

Environmental changes, such as moving to a new home or living in a chaotic household, can cause anxiety in pets.

Pet Anxiety Symptoms

Recognizing the symptoms of pet anxiety is the first step in helping your pet feel better. Some of the most common symptoms of pet anxiety include:

1. Restlessness

Pets with anxiety may have trouble settling down and staying calm, even when there is nothing causing the anxiety.

2. Aggression

Pets that are anxious may become more aggressive or defensive.

3. Destructive Behavior

Pets may engage in destructive behavior when they’re anxious, such as chewing furniture or digging holes in the yard.

4. Changes in Appetite

Anxiety can cause pets to lose their appetite or eat less than usual.

5. House Soiling

When pets are anxious, they may have accidents inside the house or refuse to go outside.

6. Vocalization

Pets may excessively meow or bark when they are feeling anxious.

7. Excessive Licking or Grooming

Pets may groom themselves excessively when they are anxious, which can lead to hair loss or skin problems.

How to Help Your Pet

While pet anxiety can be a difficult problem to manage, there are steps you can take to help your furry friend feel better. Here are some things you can try:

1. Consult with a Veterinarian

If you suspect your pet is experiencing anxiety, the first step is to consult with a veterinarian. They can rule out any underlying medical conditions that may be contributing to the issue. Your veterinarian can also help you develop a treatment plan suited to your pet’s individual needs.

2. Behavioral Modification

Behavioral modification is often recommended to help reduce pet anxiety. This may involve creating a new routine or training your pet to overcome specific fears. Using positive reinforcement, such as treats or praise, can also be helpful.

3. Medications

In more severe cases, medications may be prescribed by your veterinarian to manage your pet’s anxiety. Medications can be used alone or in conjunction with behavioral modification.

4. Comfort Items

Comfort items, like a favorite toy or blanket, can help to soothe an anxious pet. Additionally, playing calming music or providing background noise can help create a calming environment.

5. Exercise and Play

Regular exercise, playtime, and mental stimulation can help to reduce anxiety in pets. By staying active and engaged with their environment, pets are less likely to become overwhelmed by stress and anxiety.


1. Can anxiety be cured in pets?

Anxiety cannot be cured, but it can be managed with the right treatment plan and the right environment.

2. Do I need to see a veterinarian for my pet’s anxiety?

Yes, it is important to talk to a veterinarian if you suspect your pet is experiencing anxiety. They can rule out any underlying medical conditions and provide guidance on how to manage your pet’s anxiety.

3. Is pet anxiety treatable?

Yes, pet anxiety is treatable. Treatment options may include behavioral modification, medications, comfort items, exercise and play, or a combination of these approaches.


Pet anxiety can be a serious issue that affects your furry friend’s quality of life. By recognizing the causes and symptoms of pet anxiety and taking the proper steps to address it, you can provide your pet with the care and support they need to live a happy and healthy life. Consult with a veterinarian for guidance on how to manage your pet’s anxiety and improve their overall well-being.

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