What You Need to Know About Anxiety and Pets

A new survey shows how common anxiety is among pets and the importance of calming solutions.



Everyone gets a little nervous or anxious every once in a while—including pets. In fact, more than 80 percent of families with cats or dogs say their pet has exhibited anxiety-related behavior problems, according to a new report.


The study, conducted by an independent consultant and sponsored by ThunderWorks, surveyed over 800 cat- and dog-owning households. Durham, N.C.-based ThunderWorks is the creator of the ThunderShirt, an innovative jacket that applies gentle, consistent pressure reminiscent of swaddling to provide comfort to agitated pets.


“As part of our study, we found almost 50 percent of the dog-owning families surveyed had a dog that experiences loud noise (e.g., thunder and fireworks) and separation anxiety—the two most common types of anxiety,” said Phil Blizzard, CEO of ThunderWorks. “We also found that cats most commonly experience loud noise anxiety or anxiety caused by another pet or person.”


Symptoms of anxiety in pets can present themselves in a wide variety of ways and can often be misdiagnosed by pet parents. The three most common stress symptoms, according to ThunderWorks officials, are lip licking, yawning and tail wagging.


Other physical manifestations of anxiety can include:

• Aggression

• Elimination (urination or bowel movements)

• Destructive behavior

• Pacing/restlessness

• Repetitive or compulsive behaviors


Causes of anxiety can also widely vary between pets, but some of the most common are fear, separation and aging. If your customers believe their pets are experiencing anxiety, they should talk to a veterinarian about the best treatment plan. Retailers can also help by raising awareness of pet anxiety and offering anxiety-calming products, such as treats and sprays.


“When we introduced the ThunderShirt in 2009, the calming category of pet products didn’t exist yet,” said Blizzard. “The problems of fear and anxiety were as common as ever, but most pet families weren’t able to recognize that these often very difficult problems could be addressed with affordable and effective calming solutions.”


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