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Contagious: Joy or Anxiety, What Are You Spreading To Your Pet

Posted September 23, 2016

Perhaps you, like so many of the other pet parents we speak to, are dealing with a sick cat, dog or other pet. It’s a stressful situation for both of you. Given all the emotional anxiety that comes with a sick pet, we wanted to focus on WHY it’s so important that pet parents recognize and control their emotional energy, and HOW you can improve this skill.

Did you know that your emotional energy affects your pet’s health? All animals use energy to communicate, and your pets are constantly understanding you and the situation they are in through the energy you give out. They smell all the different pheromones you’re putting out, and they are keen observers of body language. Any anxiety you feel gets transferred over to them, and as stress can worsen illness and make giving medication difficult, it’s a good idea to manage your own anxiety.

Here are a few real world examples and ideas for how to manage the experience.

Going to the vet:

You may have even noticed that on the day of your appointment your dog or cat senses something is amiss. … Well, they know….They are sensing your anxiety. Suddenly they’re hiding, and by the time you’ve dragged them into their crate and they finally get to the vet, where they smell your anxiety pheromones along with all the other pheromones of all the other stressed pets who’ve been there, your poor cat or dog has worked themselves into a frenzy.

Try this instead: A few days before the appointment, do a couple partial dry runs. Your energy will be different during these dry runs—after all, you know you’re not going to the vet, so it’s no big deal.

One time go just to the garage then come back, let them out and give them a treat. The next time, try going in the car, but instead of going to the vet’s go somewhere fun, or go for just a quick drive, then come back and give your dog or cat a treat.

Try going to the vet’s office, but not for the appointment, just to say hi and get a treat from the staff. These small starts will make it easier for you both as when appointment day comes around, it’s not such a big deal—you’ve both done this and now you’ve both got this.

Giving them medicine:

It’s medicine time, and you may just want to get it done and over with. You’re already anxious about the whole experience, and before you’ve even grabbed your dog or cat, you’re stress levels are high. Finally you drag your pet from wherever they are, hold them and stuff the medicine in. They fight you and hide right after. Now medicine time is always a bad time for you both.

Try this instead:

Keep the medicine out, but don’t give it to your cat or dog right away. Go about your house, doing some mundane activity, like tidying, or doing laundry. Keep your body physically moving as oppose to say just sitting down and watching TV. Your pet will be watching you. As you go about doing your chores focus all your energy on that moment, on each little activity (folding the shirts, wiping the counters). Your energy will naturally clam, and so will theirs. They may pop out and watch you more. Don’t grab them. Keep going a little longer.

Finally sit down, don’t call them, or give them attention, just focus on yourself on your energy. When you’re sitting, they may wonder over to you. Pet them, talk to them, but as you do this focus on your energy. When you sense it’s time, gently carry them over to where the medicine is, still stroking them while carrying them. Gently hold their scuff if necessary and put the medicine in. Keep your energy calm, and even bring in a feeling of contentment. Give them a treat. You’re contented attitude will transfer to your pet and signal to them that this is a good thing.

Controlling your emotional energy is not an instantaneous change. Give yourself time. It’s in your pet’s interest, and yours to keep your emotional energy calm and stress free.

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