Every day we’re exposed to various sources and levels of stress — small misunderstandings, more complex conflicts, social pressure, deadlines at work, deep traumas and phobias, and many different unpleasant situations. We can deal with the problems with the help of conversation, psychotherapy, relaxation exercises, and very often also medications and sedatives.
Pets are very vulnerable to stress, as well. Soothing animals’ nerves, though, is a more complicated matter. Sedatives are very often absolutely necessary. However, with drug exposure for cats, dogs, and other pets, we should be extremely cautious and responsible. We want to actually help a stressed animal — not to calm it down at any cost (sometimes even illegally!).
What are the possible situations when you might want to consider supporting your animal wellbeing with medications, and why is it so important to pay much attention to its reactions and particular behaviors? Let’s clear that up!
Why Is Stress So Harmful?
Stress is a dangerously inconspicuous factor that affects not only a pet’s mood but also the work of its whole organism — each organ, the whole nervous and circulatory system, appetite, immune system, the process of digestion and excretion, and behavior.
When an animal feels threatened and insecure, it reacts with stress, tension, withdrawal, and aggression. These self-defense reactions provoke its organism to produce two stress hormones — cortisol and adrenaline.
The most common physical symptoms of stress are increased heartbeat, high blood pressure, nausea, and diarrhoea. The cause of these symptoms is a kind of side-effect of the released adrenaline. This hormone increases the blood flow to the heart which leads to bowel and stomach ischemia — and so the gastric symptoms appear.
Exposure to long-term stress results in severely reduced immunity. The source of the stress-caused immunosuppression is a chronically increased level of cortisol. An impaired immune system can’t fight illnesses nor infections. It also makes the organism unable to deal with pre-existing diseases. As a result, there can appear acute inflammations and aggravation of already existing symptoms.
The Vicious Circle of Stress
Let’s explain this occurrence of looped stress on an example of a chronically ill dog with a veterinary phobia. Such a sick pet is going to need to be under constant control of its vet, ingest medications, get systematical blood tests, and sometimes even have a procedure.
To get completely well possibly quickly the dog needs more peace than usual. The organism is recovering much quicker when it’s calm.
Unfortunately, with such a strong fear of vets, it’s extremely difficult to calm your pet down at a clinic, no matter how much you’re going to hug him and talk to him with a soothing voice. What’s worse, your clever four-legged pal already knows what’s going to happen when you’re telling him to jump into the car.
This vicious circle of stress distinctively impedes the dog’s healing process. In such situations, using sedatives for pets is actually necessary! Otherwise, there’s a risk that a sick or injured animal’s recovery will slow down but there also might appear major medical complications and the development of new aversions and phobias.
These Bad Changes
Obviously, the most effective way to reduce stress in your pet’s life is avoiding unpleasant or fear-triggering situations. If only it were so easy all the time! Unfortunately, sometimes it’s just inevitable to consciously expose your pet to stress.
Animals don’t take changes well — neither temporary nor permanent ones. As the most common stressful changes, we can consider, i.a., traveling, moving to a different apartment, the appearance of new animals in the household (or abandonment which is an absolutely extreme case).
You can support animals undergoing changes with tranquilizers. For mild anxiety, try using natural sedatives intended for pets — hemp oil or herbal medicines. Keep in mind that you can only use hemp-derived CBD oil products not containing THC! Always consult the use of all kinds of sedatives with a vet!
Most of the dog owners have surely dealt with the issue of separation anxiety. Heartbreaking yelping and terribly loud barking accompany you each time you’re going out. Coming back home, you’re wondering what’s going to be destroyed this time — your couch, books, shoes or all at once?
Separation anxiety is not only your neighbor’s nightmare and your constant helplessness but also a deeply exhausting and devastating emotional hurricane for your pet.
Reducing the dog’s fear is closely linked to his training. You simply have to train your dog in your absence. However, some dogs are so sensitive or traumatized that taking their reactions under control is nearly impossible.
For such extreme cases, using pet sedatives can be an effective supplement to the dog’s training — calmed emotions will help your dog develop a sense of obedience and build mutual trust during training sessions.
Helping your pet managing stress is one of the aspects of being a loving and careful owner. Be attentive to your animal’s behavior, learn to read the signals a stressed animal’s body gives, and don’t hesitate to contact your pet’s vet if you’re worried there might be something wrong. It’s better to worry and try to help than to neglect!