A family of four became five with the addition of a newborn baby. Needless to say, the parents’ joy went through the roof as their family was now complete, with three adorable children to love and raise. Everyone was elated, except the older sister. She was having a hard time accepting the change, ever since the birth of her first brother. Even though the parents loved all the children unconditionally, the sudden shift in their attention and focus left her worried and stressed. With the arrival of the second brother, she lost all hope. She was convinced, the love, attention, and care she once received, were now things of the past. Days went by fast. Weeks turned into months, and with time, the baby became louder and the sister quieter. The surprising thing was the parents were oblivious to the change in their daughter’s attitude. They failed to see the lingering sadness behind her big, beautiful eyes. Perhaps because, like many others, they never imagined stress in pets and that dogs can get depressed too.
As pet parents, humans have come a long way in treating their pets similar to their own children. But, despite their compassion, people still know little about their precious fur babies, especially when it comes to their psychological issues like stress.
Even in humans, it is difficult to discern stress. It is a faceless enemy that remains hidden unless one chooses to voice their issues. But humans have the freedom to seek help anytime they want. Dogs and cats, on the other hand, are voiceless creatures who bark or purr for every emotion they feel—happiness, anger, fear, love. It makes things even more difficult and critical for parents, as stress in pets can become harmful if left unaddressed. So, what can they do to help their fur babies recover?
The road to recovery starts when parents switch from looking to observing their fur babies’ behaviour because that’s where all the answers lie. Pets’ behaviour and their body language are the only means to bridge the communication gap between them and us. One thing researchers have found is a commonality in reasons that trigger stress in pets. Dr. Rachel Barrack, a veterinarian from New York City who has practised in western medicine and ancient Chinese healing arts, believes the mental issues of dogs and cats can be a result of a major life change including moving to a new home, the addition of a new member in a family, loss of a companion, changes to their typical routine, or a traumatic event like death. In such events, a dog or a cat may start acting differently, which could be symptoms of restlessness or something more critical like stress. Let’s take a look at the symptoms of stress in pets such as dogs and cats, which pet parents need to be mindful of: