One of the most common questions I’m asked at Holistic Pet Mentor is how to calm stressed or anxious pets. This is a fitting topic for the month of July since many pets are stressed by the loud cracks from fireworks! However, we know that pets can be stressed from all kinds of things. Let’s look at some holistic approaches to help ease your pet’s nerves.
Nutrition & Exercise
Don’t feed the anxiety with a diet high in corn, cornmeal or corn gluten meal. Did you know that too many carbohydrates from corn in your pet’s diet can make their anxiety worse? Great foods to incorporate that help calm the nervous system with dogs or cats include coconut oil, high quality fish oil, New Zealand green lipped mussels (perna), pulverized blueberries, and probiotic foods such as fermented vegetables and raw goat’s milk.
Selecting a pet food that’s right for your pet can be confusing, let me help you navigate pet nutrition by scheduling a phone call with me.
Ensure your pet gets plenty of fresh air and exercise. If your cat lives indoors, open a window and let in some fresh air when you can. Most pet supply stores carry great window sill hammocks for cats. If you have a dog, he or she needs to go for walks. Dogs need a walk in the morning before breakfast, before dinner, and before bed ideally. If you aren’t able to go 3 times a day, the morning walk is the most important. A tired dog is a happy dog.
Provide mental stimulation for your furbaby. Pets, like people, need mental stimulation…they get bored! We can provide mental stimulation for dogs by putting dried liver treats in a buster cube or in a kong toy with a little coconut oil. Hiding treats around the house for when you’re away can be fun. Get involved in an activity like training classes, fly ball, lure coursing, and take them to new places. You will see your pooch gain confidence!
Get Out The Essential Oils
Diffuse and spray bedding with calming essential oils. Known for their ability to affect the emotional centers of the brain, essential oils are an excellent tool for calming stressed or anxious pets! The best essential oils to use for calming are lavender, roman chamomile, magnolia, cedarwood, frankincense, tumeric and copaiba. The key to using essential oils is ensuring they are certified pure and that the diffuser is a cool mist water diffuser. I recommend the Lumo diffuser by doTERRA that has a 10 hr setting. All you need is 5 drops set for 10 hours.
Try pheromone plug-ins for stressed cats. When male cats are roaming the neighborhood, kitties that live inside may become majorly stressed! If your cat starts spraying urine inside or not using the litter box, clean the area with an enzymatic cleaner. Once it dries, I found that spraying it down with an essential oil blend called Purify can help get that pungent odor out! When the cleaning is done, try a pheromone plug in or pheromone spray to use around the area. The pheromones may help calm your cat and prevent repeat soiling of that area.
When You’re Away
Leave a scent item. Leave an old t-shirt that smells like you. Pets feel comforted by just by your scent.
Turn on soothing sounds. Many pets respond very well to soothing music or white noise playing while we are away.
Stressed or Anxious Pets Need Routines
Have a consistent routine. Having a consistent routine lets our pets know what to expect and they are calmer because of it. If my 20 year old Buddha cat doesn’t get fed at his normal times, everyone in the house knows about it! He will meow, jump on the table, knock over anything breakable, and give me the angry stare! This is his way of letting me know he hasn’t forgotten the routine and I better stick to my end of the deal because pets love routines!
Reduce the contrast between being home and not home. When there is transition such as leaving or coming home, don’t make a big deal about it. Our pets sense our energy. When you get home, ignore your pet for the first 15 minutes. Act like it’s no big deal when you leave or come home. They are looking for cues and reading our body language. Perhaps your stress level is contributing to an anxious pet. What message could you be sending your pet before you leave or right before a thunderstorm?
Life is Fun & Games
Make a game out of every new situation. One example is the “touch it” game. Teach your dog to “touch it” by placing a treat in the palm of your hand and holding it in place with your thumb. When your dog goes to sniff the treat, pair the action with the phrase “touch it”. Repeat this over and over for about 5 minutes, then play this game every night for about a week straight. Your dog should be an expert at this game by the end of the week. Then branch out by touching other things or placing treats in different spots and say, “touch it”. This is a confidence building game and is super helpful to use with anxious dogs that get stressed by new things or new situations.
I hope you enjoyed these tips on how to calm stressed or anxious pets. I would love to connect with you on Facebook! Check out my page for more holistic pet care tips by visiting https://www.facebook.com/holisticpetmentor/
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