Behavior and Training, Pet Care Basics

How to Reduce Stress in Cats and Dogs

How can I help a stressed dog? Did you ever think your dog or cat could suffer from stress just as we can? In addition to occasional events such as thunderstorms or fireworks, recent studies have shown even the most pampered pets have daily stressors that can affect their long-term health. Feline lower urinary tract disease, inflammatory bowel syndrome, obesity, gastric dilatation volvulus (bloat), noise phobias and separation anxiety have all been linked to chronic stress in both dogs and cats.

What Causes Stress in Dogs and Cats

Just like with people, there are many stressful events within a pet’s world. Holidays, storms, traveling, boarding, grooming, and separation anxiety can all create pet stress. Animals can become very upset when they aren’t sure what is happening, which is often the case with loud fireworks or thunder. There is also reason to believe that the way a mammal responds to stress and chronic disease is directly related to nutrient deficiencies, imbalances and toxicity.

Dog and Cat Stress Relief

When it comes to how to help a stressed dog or cat we recommend the following:

  • The most important thing you can do for cat and dog stress relief is to provide balanced nutrition
  • Give your pets a daily supplement to ensure they are replacing stress-nutrient loss. Vitamin mineral supplements such as Doc Roy’s® Daily Care Feline or Canine provide your pet with the nutrients that they need.
  • They don’t appreciate fireworks or thunder! Keep them inside with music, and be sure to stay calm around them. Yelling at them only reaffirms their thinking that bad things are happening.
  • Use treats or a favorite toy to diffuse negative feelings associated with leaving or loud noises. Give them a favorite toy that they only get when there is an issue.
  • Use calming agents that support your effort. Rescue Remedy is naturally formulated to calm the anxious dog. It is very effective when used in anticipation of stressful events, such as fireworks or company coming over. Calming pheromone products like the ThunderEase Dog Calming Collar for dogs or the Comfort Zone® with Feliway, Spray and Scratch Control for cats are also effective. These calming products help pets maintain normal behavior.
  • Talk to your veterinarian about prescription anti-anxiety meds for dogs and cats (there are many) to help manage either long-term generalized stress or for episodes of stressful situations such as grooming, veterinary visits, thunderstorms and fireworks. Make sure to call ahead so your veterinary clinic can accommodate your needs.

Taking steps to calm your pet is worth the effort. The goal is to help pets cope with stress. Over time, they will learn to tolerate these stressful situations and live a longer, happier life.

If you have more questions on cat and dog stress relief, call us at 800.786.4751.

Article originally written by Donald Bramlage, DVM, Revival’s Former Director of Veterinary Services. This article has been updated/reviewed by Dr. Greer.

Written by: Marty Greer, DVM

Director of Veterinary Services

Marty Greer, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, has 40+ years’ experience in veterinary medicine, with special interests in canine reproduction and pediatrics. She received her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from Iowa State University in 1981. She’s served as Revival’s Director of Veterinary Services since 2019. In 2023, Dr. Greer was named the Westminster Kennel Club Veterinarian of the Year.

If you need help, call us at 800.786.4751.