How Can You Tell?

I do not know about you, but I am stressed out.  I know my husband can tell when he asks me if I am okay.  The telltale signs he has mentioned are when pick my nail polish off, sleep late, binge watch TV, ignore his answers to my questions, watch my older dog struggling with her back legs and tear up.

Like us, our dogs and cats can experience stress when their routine is changed.   They can become very needy and opportunistic.  Pushing us to go outside, feed them, play with them while you need to work.   Barking at us to pay attention to them is popular with many these days and it is simply annoying and not conducive to getting work done or concentrating.   We might push them away when we are on a business call and of course they wonder what they did wrong. We have less patience as we need to work or home school, and do not react the way they are used to when before they were a novelty and we were not able to see them full time as we were not working from home.

Cats are different than dogs in that they do not like disruption and chaos in the house full time.  They may react by leaving “unpleasant gifts” for you away from their litter-box, a not too subtle reminder that they are annoyed.   The other difference is when we are together with cats 24/7 they will hide away from children and noise while dogs are prone to want to come to us and become more needy for our attention.

If we stick to a routine with our pets, it will help de-stress the situation for them and us.  Give both cats and dogs “chill out” time and a designated chair and/or bed so they feel more in control of their own situation and do not feel on call.   When they are in this place, they should never be interrupted so they can feel it is their safe place.

Further to prevent against our pets having separation anxiety when we return to work we should be mindful to leave the house periodically.

Signs of distress in dogs are as follows:

  • A “whale-eye” or sideways glance with a rigid stance implies tension.  To aid in relieving this use long strokes on its back to calm nerves.
  • 3-4 days of abnormal amounts of fur shedding and flaky skin
  • Increased yawning, lip and nose licking, and panting are all signs
  • Pinned back ears and tucked tail and/or hair standing up from body.


  • Long stroke massages while your dog sit next to you on a cozy sofa, or bed.
  • Along with this or by itself, calming new age music with harp can be calming
  • Soft reinforcement from us saying the dog’s name and that he or she is good, etc.
  • Exercise/indoor or outdoor.  Play with your dog alone.
  • Heat can be stressful.  Use a cooling cloth on neck, body.

Signs of Stress in Cats are as follows:

  • Excessive Grooming-obsessive licking is a sign.  This releases endorphins that helps your cat calm itself down.  I was told by our vet that this has a name-Psychogenic Alopecia.  Besides licking there can be  biting, hair loss, skin wounds, and ulcerations.  These symptoms could also mean flea infestation or parasites, so these should also be ruled out before concluding that the behavior is stress-induced.
  • Cats like to hide from loud noises and stressful chaos often child related.  There are other things that can be stressful like a scented candle, seeing suitcases and/or carriers, strangers or unexpectedly being picked up.  A good fix for this is a vertical cat condo or high up wall mounted perches, also cocoon or igloo type beds where they are hidden are also possibilities.
  • Not using the kitty litter for you know what may also be a sign of confusion and stress.
  • Loss of Appetite can indicate stress.  The reasons can be, strangers coming into the house, missing a family member who is away, a new cat, a food bowl location change, change of environment (new home), a new routine or time zone.  This should not go on for more than 1-2 days-then call vet on the second day’s afternoon.
  • Bladder inflation (FIC) can be related to stress in cats resulting in their seemingly sick condition.  Often an antibiotic is prescribed, however the best remedy is to play with your cat so it isn’t bored, as well as a safe place for the cat to take refuge when it wants to be at peace. 
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