Pets, just like humans, can suffer from some pretty unreasonable phobias and fears. What’s the difference between a phobia and a fear? A phobia is a long term anxiety disorder associated with an irrational fear of something. A fear, on the other hand, is a response to a true, known threat. Like people, individual pets may suffer from different and unique phobias. Here are a few common ones and how to help your furry friend cope and hopefully overcome!
Help Your Pets Cope With Phobias
Thunder – Every time a thunderstorm rolls through an area, you can bet someone’s pet is getting very upset. Many pets are afraid of thunder, and we’ve all jumped at the occasional, out of the blue crackling roar that takes us by surprise. For some pets though, the fear is accompanied by a much deeper and upsetting anxiety. Some pets will begin pacing, whining, drooling or acting erratically with even the lowest roll of thunder. It may seem harmless and easy to just leave them be to cower under the couch or bed until the weather passes. Long term anxiety is unhealthy for your pet, and persistent fear can cause pets to run into walls, or do other erratic behavior that could do them serious harm. Help your pet cope with this common phobia by providing them therapy in small doses. Play a recording of a thunderstorm for them, very low, on a pretty day while petting them, feeding them treats, or playing. This will help encourage them to associate the sound and event with something pleasant.
Water – Some pets just don’t like water, and you clearly should never force your pet into something they are not comfortable with. We do NOT advise you trying to treat your cat for a dislike of water! Pets that groom themselves have little to no need to be acclimatized to it so we suggest you let them be! Dogs, on the other hand, need a good bath once in a while! If you’re introducing your pet to water to for the first time, make sure it’s a fun and memorable experience. Never throw or drag your pet into the water and make sure that you’re partaking too! Whether you’re introducing them to bath time or swimming at the lake, always go in first, stay shallow and show them how much fun you’re having. Water phobias can be created by just assuming that dogs like water and won’t mind bath time. Make sure to ease them into it and just like with thunder, create pleasant associations!
The effects of pet phobias…
Vets Office – Nobody likes going to the doctor and it’s no better for your pet. A phobia of the vet can be a pretty serious condition, especially considering that some vet calls may be emergencies and causing your pet even more anxiety during an emergency can further hurt them. Vet phobias can be so severe that the very chance of one ruins any and every car ride you take with your pet. The way to overcome the vet phobia is to make it a point not to just take your pet there when they are sick or getting a shot. Talk to your vet and see if there is a chance you could swing by for a social call occasionally. Just pop in and let your pet sniff around the office, have the receptionist feed them treats and then head home with no unpleasantness involved! Another good step is to make sure that your pet is used to being fully handled. Practice minor exams at home during petting or grooming sessions so that your pet isn’t so alarmed by being felt all over by a stranger.
Always remember than forcing your pet into something they are not fully comfortable with creates phobias, not the other way around. Be patient and always do everything you can to stay calm and be a constant soothing presence to you pet. Create positive associations whenever you can, and most pet phobias can be handled perfectly right at home with a little attention from you!
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