Anxiety in its broadest sense is common in our pets. Unfortunately, all too often this is not recognised (or worse, it is considered dominance). Yet long-term anxiety has a major impact on their quality of life.
Sometimes the signs are subtle or almost unnoticeable: breathing and heart rates increase, pupils dilate, they eat less (in case of sudden stress) or just more (in case of prolonged stress), they seek closer contact with their owner or just withdraw more, they don’t really rest and scan the environment with their eyes or head to follow all activity, they shake themselves often, their muscle tone is increased, they often lick their lips or nose (smacking), they yawn often.
Sometimes the signs are much more obvious: tail between paws, ears pulled low or back, head and neck kept low, creeping into a corner or being restless, panting, trembling, emptying anal glands, jaw flapping, easily startled or aggressive, salivating, whimpering, crying, running away, being unattentive (pee and/or bowel movements), breaking things, repeated actions (circling, licking), lifting a paw or putting it on your arm.
In cats, the signs are even more difficult to spot. They brush themselves more often, sometimes with self-mutilation, or they groom themselves less. They withdraw, they try to hide or they become aggressive. They become immature.
So fear expresses itself in many different ways, depending on the animal and depending on the circumstances. Wondering if your animal is anxious? If so, don’t hesitate to schedule a behavioural consultation.