Do you have a stressed-out pet?

All pets are individuals and while some can take life’s ups and downs in their stride, other sensitive souls may become stressed and anxious. But there are lots of things you can do to help them feel calmer and happier.
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21st March 2024

Did you know that March is officially Pet Anxiety month? Companies that have developed stress-relieving products especially for pets – such as sprays, diffusers and collars – are hoping that this notable date in the calendar will raise awareness amongst the nation’s pet owners.

Pet Remedy, which uses natural ingredients to help calm a range of pet animals without sedating states: “Awareness of human anxiety is improving. Let’s make a note to do better for our pets as well.”

What stresses your pet?

Pet Anxiety Awareness Month adds: “Pets suffer with anxiety all year round. Whether this is due to travelling, meeting new people, going to the vets, fears of loud noises, the hoover, living in a stressful environment...the list goes on! We want to raise awareness all about these issues and highlight that there is something you can do to help your pet.”

Veterinary group Metrovet advises: “Just like humans, our pets can experience worry, anxiety and stress. Since we know how these emotions make us feel, we certainly want to help alleviate our pet’s distress where we can.”


Source: PDSA Animal Wellbeing Report

The challenge, because our pets can’t tell us how they’re feeling, is to identify key behaviours that reveal they’re stressed – and to try and pinpoint what could be causing their anxiety. Common events that your pets may find stressful include:

  • The addition of new members to your household, such as another pet or a baby
  • Moving house
  • Loud noises such as fireworks or thunderstorms
  • Drastic changes to their routine
  • Trips to the kennels, cattery or vet


Being a calm pet owner plays a crucial role in maintaining the emotional wellbeing of your pet. Animals, particularly domesticated pets like dogs and cats, are remarkably sensitive to the emotional states of their human caregivers. When a pet owner is calm and composed, this emotional state is often mirrored by the pet.

Source: Pet Remedy

Learn to look for the signs of stress and anxiety in your pets

Dogs Trust outlines some of the signs that reveal your dog is feeling anxious:

  • Slowing down – as dogs become unsure about something, they tend to slow down as they try to learn more about it
  • Leaning away and lip-licking
  • Crouched body
  • Paw lifting
  • An ‘appeasement grin’, also referred to as a ‘submissive grin’ or ‘smile’. This is different to an aggressive display of teeth, and they may initially show this behaviour when they are trying to diffuse social conflict
  • Shaking, panting and pacing
  • Jumping, pawing or mouthing
  • Hiding
  • Appeasement roll – the dog rolls onto their side or back to show that they pose no threat. This is very different to a dog rolling over to have their tummy tickled
  • Lunging forward or freezing

Cats Protection lists signs of a stressed cat, which can include:

  • Becoming more withdrawn or hiding more than usual
  • Becoming less tolerant of people
  • Hesitating or becoming reluctant to use the litter tray, go through the cat flap or sit on your lap
  • Eating or drinking less
  • Overeating
  • Scratching the furniture
  • Excessive meowing
  • Hissing or growling
  • Crouching and looking tense
  • Exaggerated swallowing or licking their nose
  • Vomiting or diarrhoea

Signs of stress in your small pets

PDSA advises: “Our small pets can feel stressed just as much as cats and dogs but the signs they show can be even more difficult to detect. As many small pets are prey animals, they often hide signs of illness or stress, but there are still things we can look out for to check they’re happy. Signs like low energy, eating less and hiding can be related to stress, but any changes in your pet’s routine might mean they are feeling unwell or stressed.”

Did you know that you can get guinea pig food with a special calming formula? >>

What’s the best way to help your pets overcome anxiety and stress?

Metrovet advises that a mixture of strategies often work best, stating: “There is lots of evidence that a mentally and physically stimulated pet is happier and healthier. By knowing your pet and observing changes in their behaviour, you will spot whether their mental wellbeing is being impacted.” Here are some top tips to try:

  • PLAY MORE Find a new mentally stimulating outdoor exercise with your dog. Playing with your cat is essential in reducing their anxiety and stress, especially if they spend all their time indoors.
  • ENGAGE MORE Interact with your pet to stimulate their mind. Using a toy which you can both engage with will also help form a stronger relationship with your pet. Consider something you could throw, drag or swing to get their attention and maintain their interest.
  • GIVE THEM A BREAK Give your pets places to escape for a break, especially if you have a lot going on in your home. Designate their favourite spot as a place where others don’t bother them. This will help your pet build their resilience and ability to cope with unusually high levels of social interaction.
  • TRY PHEROMONE THERAPY Canine and feline pheromone products (such as ADAPTIL and FELIWAY, or Pet Remedy, which is suitable for all kinds of pets including rabbits and guinea pigs) can help relax your pet in strange or stressful situations.

If you have an anxious pet, it’s essential to consult your vet who will be able to rule out if your pet’s behaviour is due to a medial issue. They may refer you to a certified animal behaviourist or be able to prescribe anxiety-reducing medications if appropriate.


Using the expertise and experience built over the centuries, Yorkshire-based family company Burgess Pet Care produces high-quality, award-winning pet foods – such as food for dogs with sensitivitiesfood specially created to support neutered cats – and has launched many innovations. These include the world’s first food specifically formulated for indoor rabbits and the world’s first indoor guinea pig nuggets which are made with a calm formula.

Improve the lives of your rabbits and guinea pigs using runs, tunnels, doors and more to create the environment they deserve with Runaround >>

PET TALK If you love animals and want the latest pet news, expert advice and top tips, head over to the BURGESS BLOG >>

Is your dog a Burgess dog? Your cat a Burgess cat? Your small pets Burgess small pets? Join the Burgess Pet Club for exclusive offers and rewards.

CARE MORE Find lots of useful advice on caring for all your pets from Burgess, the pet experts. Training, nutrition, grooming and general care. It’s all here >>

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