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Anxiety in Dogs and Cats

Happy dog licking its nose in grass

Anxiety is defined as ‘the apprehensive anticipation of a perceived future threat or danger’. It is an emotional response that occurs before or during the situation that the animal perceives as a threat even though the situation may never actually happen.

Anxiety is a medical condition/mental illness and IS NOT a training issue.

Anxiety is a very unpleasant experience and is a welfare issue for the animal if left untreated. Unfortunately, behavioural problems are a major cause of euthanasia in dogs and cats.

There are many different situations that can cause a dog or cat to become anxious or fearful. These vary from animal to animal and can include things such as loud noises and thunderstorms, other dogs or cats, unfamiliar people, change to routine or visiting a Vet.


Happy dog at beach 

Dogs can exhibit many signs that they are feeling anxious and these include somewhat subtle signs such as lip licking, yawning, scratching, sniffing, turning their head away, ears pulled back, whale eye or standing with their tail tucked under their body. These can escalate to much more obvious signs of panic and fear including escaping.


hissing cat 

Cats generally exhibit different behaviours than dogs when they are feeling anxious. These include urinating and/or defecating in places other than the litter box, excessive grooming, hiding, aggression or destructive behaviour such as scratching furniture.


cat scared 

There are many things that can be done to help anxious dogs and cats and it is not something that they simply have to ‘live with’. If you are concerned that your pet may be suffering from anxiety, please contact your Vet. The sooner that help is sought, the better off your pet will be.

For more information, please click on the links below:

Separation Anxiety in Dogs

Is separation anxiety always the reason?

Illuminating elimination behaviours in cats

Thunderstorm Phobia