Is it Important to Treat Anxiety? What Happens if I Just Ignore it?
As a trainer, I see anxiety-driven behaviors in the majority of my clients. People come to me to evaluate their pets and discuss how we can help reduce their pets’ anxiety. The symptoms of anxiety are different for every pet. Just a small few that I see are lip licking, yawning, itching, squinting, barking, and cowering. The biggest three anxiety-driven behaviors, that require training and vet visits to correct, are inappropriate urination and defecation, self-mutilation, and destruction. The mildly noticeable habits, such as lip licking, are just as harmful as the more serious behaviors, like clawing at the door to get out. The truth is, they both are the same feeling displayed in different ways from pet to pet. One is not more intense than the other because they both stem from intense feelings of anxiety. Although the behaviors vary in each pet, the root of their feelings is worth addressing through training.
Anxiety, in general, is a state of panic and your mind is telling you are in danger, for whatever reason. There are no shortcuts to fixing anxiety. Just as in humans, there is no way to cure anxiety, but we can teach the pet how to manage it better. Depending on the type of anxiety, there are methods of training to help them learn how to manage their triggers. Prescription medications can also be used alongside the training, with a veterinarian’s diagnosis. Medication alone will help lower the fight or flight response, but it does not help them manage the triggers or change the responses to them. You do need to do the training with the formal medication and each individual pet will be evaluated throughout their therapy. Training can be expensive for some disorders and will require life-long reinforcement.
The long-term effect of anxiety, pet life span, quality of life, relationship to pet, mental and physical health issues, and associated medical costs caused by anxiety outweigh the cost and time spent on treating the root of their anxiety. Just like humans, anxiety, and depression can lead to a multitude of health issues like early onset of heart, kidney, and liver disease. Increase weight gain, leading to mobility complications, loss of confidence, and pain. This, in turn, sends you to the veterinarian that may prescribe long-term use of NSAIDs, which causes other obstacles and health complications. Training and Fitness can prevent most of these issues and it’s all natural!
Enrichment, training, and fitness are the 3 things that help with keeping your pet healthy, mind, and body!