Cause and Effect
Pets can feel anxiety for a number of reasons.
“One of the main causes of behavior problems is separation anxiety,” said Katherine Kear, marketing and sales coordinator at Tomlyn. “More and more people are working full time and away from home so pets have a hard time adjusting.”
When pets are separated from their owners, they can turn to destructive behaviors.
“They can tear up some things in your house,” said Tabitha Cromer, marketing manager at Tomlyn. “Dogs can chew on shoes, cats can tear up plants and some of our vets have told us that they could even start chewing on themselves like their paws or their tails.”
According to Cromer, these behaviors are pet’s ways of communicating back to owners that they are stressed.
There are ways to help a pet owner seeking over-the-counter treatments for their animals.
“We have the Relax & Calm Chews that definitely helps calm them down in a natural way,” said Cromer.
“It’s a natural way to calm instead of going to the vet and getting any type of sedative,” said Kear. “It doesn’t make them sleepy, it just takes that edge off.”
According to Kear, Relax & Calm has the highest levels of l-tryptophan on the market which is what is found in turkey. Therefore, there is human-animal parallel.
“The pet parent knows that turkey dinner makes them sleepy and then they see our product and correlate the l-tryptophan to calmness,” said Kear.
Relax & Calm chews also features chamomile and ginger which are not only calming but also help the intestinal tract to help combat digestive problems cause from anxiety.
Another over-the-counter treatment is Pet Acoustic products.
The Pet Acoustics Ultra Calmer is clinically proven music that relieves canine stress. It comes pre-loaded with special frequency modified calming music.
“Pet owners can just turn the music on and place it on the dog’s collar,” said Janet Marlow, founder and composer of Pet Acoustics Inc. “After just a few minutes, dog owners will see their dogs relax.”
According to Marlow, the Ultra Calmer can diminish behaviors such as shaking, pacing and panting. The music plays continuously for three hours.
“It’s great for anxiety especially anxiety triggered by sounds,’ said Marlow. “Dogs feel better during thunderstorms, fireworks and environmental noises.
Pet Owners can also pick up the Pet Tunes Canine Bluetooth Speaker that comes pre-loaded with music.
“Pet owners are guaranteed a calm pet for home alone time,” said Marlow.
The Bluetooth speaker also comes pre-loaded for cat owners as well and there is even a speaker specifically designed for birds.
“It keeps birds company when they are home alone,” said Marlow.
Wrapped in Comfort
There are even a number of wraps on the market that help pets remain calm.
The Company of Animals now features the Anxiety Wrap.
“The Anxiety Wrap is the original wrap for thunderstorm fear and anxiety,” said John Dudley, marketing executive at The Company of Animals. “It alleviates some of the conditions that dogs experience that cause anxiety.”
According to him, these behaviors include fear, insecurity, shyness, hyper anxiety and more.
“It is a great product to use on a dog who experiences thunderstorm fear, firework fear, separation anxiety,” said Dudley. “If people know their dog is likely to tear the place up or have an uncomfortable time while their away, it’s a good time to use the anxiety wrap as well.”
According to him, it is really useful for pet parents who work for eight hours a day. Dogs can wear it all day.
“Another big issue that pet owners are experiencing is travel anxiety,” said Dudley. “If traveling with pets is an issue, either flying or in the car, the anxiety wrap really helps with that.”
How it works is simple.
“There is a pressure maintained throughout the wrap itself so the dog is wrapped up in a material that is stretchy and breathable,” said Dudley. “It is just like a gentle hug. That closeness is what makes the dog more comfortable and feel more secure.”
The wrap also applies pressure to acupuncture points on the dog.
“These are in the neck area, chest area, shoulders, midsection and the rear legs,” said Dudley. These points react well to having pressure applied to them.
The Anxiety Wrap comes in seven sizes. It’s completely non-restrictive
Benefits of Play
Toys can be an important part of staving off anxiety as well.
“The act of chewing, chasing, and squeaking toys can help pet anxiety by providing mental stimulation often lacking in homes where pets are left alone for long periods of time,” said Ashley Torresala of Propel Communications. “GoDog dog toys come in fun, colorful characters are made with soft plush fabrics and filled with squeakers for added variety of tactile and auditory stimulation. Hear Doggy toys squeak at a pitch outside the human hearing range, giving dogs the sensation of loud squeaks without disturbing human housemates.”
Dogs aren’t the only ones who need toys.
“Like dogs, cats need mental and physical stimulation to stave off anxiety,” said Torresala. “SuperCat toys are designed to slow release fresh catnip scent each time the product is scratched, rubbed or buffed. Because SuperCat toys provide constant fresh catnip scent, they can provide a higher quality stimulation.”
SuperCat has a new arrival that is a good option for anxious cats.
“SuperCat’s new Cat Condo is a great addition to the lineup of products used with their catnip products,” said Torresala. “The SuperCat Cat Condo is a customizable system that allows pet parents to create their own kitty condos. ‘Huts’ and ‘tubes’ fit together to create play areas of any shape and size. Its lightweight construction is easy to move, and offers a more affordable option for consumers.”
Natura Petz has several natural products to calm dogs and cats. Serenity Zen Dog & Cat contains natural ingredients to help not only with anxiety but also with aggressive behavior that stems from it. It comes in capsule form and is easy to administer to any dog or cat from puppy to senior.
“Our product works really well on just general forms of pet stress, anxiety and behavior problems,” said Heidi Nevala, president of Natura Petz.
Serenity Zen can be used for all types of anxiety as well as behavioral problems, which are often linked to stress, separation anxiety, undiagnosed illness, genetics, poor diet, poor training, neglect, abuse, etc. It is a blend of six rainforest botanicals and other plants including valerian root extract, chamomile, Passiflora, anise, mint and toronjil (lemon balm) all of which are well researched for their calming, toning and restorative effects on the animal body.
“We have yet to hear a single pet parent say it doesn’t work,” said Nevala. “Not only does it address the nutritional gaps that pets might be experiencing but it also goes in and relieves irregularity too.”
According to Nevala, it works well because it affects the entire body of the pet. “It doesn’t just address the central and autonomic nervous system but it also addresses the glands, heart, digestion and even breathing.
“It’s a whole body solution and all the plants support each other,” she said.
Pet Owner Education
Products aren’t the only way retailers can help pet owners with their pet’s behavior issues.
“Retailers can ask some basic questions when faced with an owner having behavioral difficulties with their pet,” said Steven Appelbaum, president of Animal Behavior College. “Gently inquire if anything changed at home. Are they spending less time with their pet? Have they brought a new pet into the home or lost a pet? Has anyone moved away or moved into the home? This might sound personal but is important to understand.”
According to Appelbaum, the answer to these questions can help retailers get a better grasp on the anxiety issue and how to help fight it.
“Suggest the owner pick an activity that involves the pet and consistently engage in that activity 4-6 times a week,” he said. “This could include obedience training for dogs, regular walks/exercise (dogs and cats) and being conscious about alleviating changes to schedules where possible.”
A good example of a changing environment can be found with parents of a new baby.
“Most parents are understandably focused on their new child,” said Appelbaum. “However, if the pet who might have been a center of your attention is suddenly ignored, this can cause problems.”
Appelbaum suggests spending more time with an anxious pet.
“Spending some consistent time can really help reduce anxiety and thus bad behavior,” he said.