What is Nervousness?
We’ve all felt that restless, jittery feeling when we are nervous about something – the same can be said for our pets – as they too can feel nervous and unsure of themselves. Animals need to feel secure and protected in order to relax. In the wild, an animal relies on the ‘fight or flight’ response to impending danger. This means that they have two choices: to stay and face the danger or to flee. Some animals can be more nervous and un-trusting than others.
It may depend on the breed or their background (if they come from abusive or neglected homes). Nervousness can be an infrequent, circumstantially bound problem (visiting the vet); or it could be the result of a disorder (separation anxiety or a nervous disorder). Either way, help is available, and if treated, nervousness can be managed.
If your animal is nervous you may notice some of the following signs:
- Retreating abruptly at the slightest noise or disturbance
- Tail between the legs (dogs)
- Hiding under furniture or behind objects for prolonged periods of time (cats)
- Rapid heartbeat
- Rapid/Fast Breathing
- Muscle tension
- Restlessness, agitation or skittish behavior
- Upset stomach
What Causes Nervousness?
Common causes of nervousness in pets include:
- A visit to the vet
- Meeting strangers
- Loud noises
- Traveling in the car
- Abuse in the past
- Thunderstorms and fireworks
Help for Nervousness
There are many treatments available to help your pet manage nervousness, depending on the severity and underlying cause. It is important to get a professional diagnosis by a vet if you suspect that your pet’s nervousness is causing him or her distress or impacting on his or her daily life.
For treating occasional or situational nervousness, your vet may prescribe tranquilizer-type medication or nervous system relaxants. Keep in mind these are strong drugs and may be accompanied by side effects.
Nature’s ingredients can help to alleviate nervousness without the risks that conventional drugs may pose. Herbal and homeopathic remedies contain ingredients chosen for their ability to support the nervous system. Scutellaria laterifolia (Scullcap) is a popular herb for treating anxiety and other nervous disorders.
Passiflora incarnata has been used since the 19th century and is often called a 'natural tranquilizer'. Homeopathic ingredients such as Kalium phosphate and Argentum nitricum suit those pets with nervous dispositions that are sensitive to stress or change of any sort.