Stressed-Out Pets

Natural Ways to Calm Fear and Anxiety

While most American pets live on easy street, with meals, treats, exercise outings and affection provided, the good life also poses challenges—dogs and cats can get stressed.

“Basic stress is fear-based. Separation or isolation anxiety requires in-depth training,” says JennaLee Gallicchio, a certified separation anxiety trainer who uses scientific and hands-off techniques at her All Stars Dog Training, in Bedminster, New Jersey. She authors a bestselling series that was launched with The Secret to Getting Your Dog to Do What You Want.

A drug like Reconcile, the pet version of Prozac, looks like a quick fix, but can bring many harmful side effects. Laurel Braitman, Ph.D., of Sausalito, California, bestselling author of Animal Madness: How Anxious Dogs, Compulsive Parrots, and Elephants in Recovery Help Us Understand Ourselves, estimates that 70 million U.S. dogs are given the same drugs their humans use for anxiety or depression. Considering the potential dangers, such drugs should only be used briefly as a last resort with veterinary supervision to ensure the proper dosage based on age, size and temperament. There are more natural and safer alternatives.

Common Stressors

Dogs hear sounds at four times the distance we do; cats hear even better. Thunderstorms, fireworks, traffic, TV, music and children can unnerve them. Add in a new home, baby, another pet or anticipation of car rides associated with fear of the veterinarian and even normally mellow pets can get upset.

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