I was once again reminded last week how much stressful things can affect animals – especially animals who have the tendency to want to make sad or difficult things better for us. Dogs have a bigger problem with this than cats do. Cats tend to let things roll off of their fur without too much sinking in… that’s just who they are. But occasionally I will find a kitty who does carry battle scars from the physical/emotional ills around them.
Dogs, now, are another matter. Since they love us so much and want to please us, they very willingly take on our stresses and sorrows, our aches and pains in order to help us feel better. As you might have guessed, this is not good for them.
Many people ask me to talk to their animals because their pets’ personalities have changed or their pets are doing strange things or seem to have pain in their hips, backs, etc. In talking with these pets, I generally find that these changes, aches and pains and strange behaviors are a result of something stressful going on in their homes. Maybe their human has lost their job, maybe someone has died or moved away or suddenly become ill. The bottom line is whatever affects us as human beings affects our pets. And our pets do not have the ability or the sophistication to adjust and work through these difficulties. We need to help them.
The first step is to recognize stress in your pet.
Any change in eating, sleeping or playing patterns can be a tip-off. If you dog starts limping all of a sudden, especially if you have just started walking differently because of a leg or a foot injury, this should alert you to something going on with Fido. If you see your pet exhibiting strange behavior – eg., licking a lot, hiding from you, following you more than usual, you need to start asking yourself “what’s going on with me that might be causing FiFi to act like this?” You may find that you have been somewhat depressed or anxious about something. Your pet is taking on some of the same things you’re feeling. Sometimes it’s because they want to take some of the burden away from you. Sometimes it’s simply a reaction to the negative energy they feel coming off of you. Either way, they need our help.
What do we do about it? First, we must figure out what’s going on with us. Only then can we hope to be of assistance to them. Once we’ve done that, we can start helping our pets to shed their anxieties and worries about us by talking to them, reassuring them through our thoughts and actions and getting back to our normal routines. It may take a while; but if we want our pets to be happy and healthy again, we need to be consistent and persistent. They will love us all the more for it.