By Dr HELEN BURNS BVSc (Hons) | Dated March 1, 2018
Does your pet have anxiety?
Do you see little deposits from your cat outside the litter tray ?
Or catch a whiff of cat pee as you wander around your house?
Does your dog tremble, hide or bark incessantly?
If so, it is possible that your four legged family member may have anxiety.
Anxiety is thought to affect approximately 20% of the pet population, and most often appears for the first time at the age of social maturity which is from 1 to 3 years old. It is thought to have both genetic and environmental factors contributing to its development. Separation anxiety is the most common form of anxiety that we see at Gordon Vet, and occurs when pets are left alone or when they are separated from the person or animal with whom they have a close bond.
Cats may urinate or defecate around the house, or potentially on the belongings of a family member. Sometimes a cat may vomit, not eat or overgroom themselves as a result of their anxiety.
Some dogs may show apparently naughty behaviour, such as incessant barking, whining or they may damage fences, gates, doors or furniture. Others are more subtle in expressing their anxiety and will yawn excessively, lick, pant, not eat or drink when left alone, hide or tremble.
Whichever way our pets express their anxiety, it is not much fun for them, and usually not very pleasant for their owners who are busy cleaning up the aftermath.
While there is no cure for anxiety, there is much that we can do to make both the pet and owner’s lives happier and easier. With dogs and cats, it is important that we exclude other underlying medical problems such as a urinary tract infection, allergies and illness. This usually requires a check up, blood test and urine sample. Following this, we discuss the potential for making changes to their environment, medication to reduce anxiety and behaviour modification. It is definitely a team effort, with the family, vet and pet all working together to get this tricky problem licked!
Written by Dr HELEN BURNS BVSc (Hons)
Helen graduated from Sydney Uni in 1997 with First Class Honours and worked in a practice on the Northern Beaches for 16 years. Helen joined the Gordon Vet team early in 2014 and our clients have really enjoyed getting to know her. She loves being a vet and takes a keen interest in all of her patients. Her gentle, friendly nature helps pets to feel relaxed when they visit the vet.Helen lives locally and has 3 children. At least one of her children seems destined to be a vet! When not ferrying her children around, Helen cares for her menagerie of pets. These include Chloe the dog, Obi and Leia the cats, Little Cocky the galah and Rosie the very tame eclectus parrot who all happily coexist at her house.In her spare time, Helen likes to be active outdoors, running, kayaking, camping or playing any manner of sport with her children.