Situational Anxiety in Pets

Do you have an anxious pet, or do you think you might? Anxiety is surprisingly common in pets, and many first-time pet owners may not realize just how anxious their furry companions really can be.

In our Holmdel, NJ, animal hospital‘s article, we’ll help you learn how to recognize the signs of situational anxiety in pets. You can use this information to figure out when it might be time to talk to your vet about potential treatments and management for anxiety in your pet. 

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Symptoms of Situational Anxiety

Aggression and Defensive Behavior

Some pets become aggressive and defensive when they’re anxious. Think of the “cornered animal” metaphor, and you should be able to understand why pets react this way when dealing with anxiety. A pet who becomes aggressive out of anxiety can be dangerous, so it’s important to learn how to manage this problem before it gets too out of hand.

Hiding and Avoidance

Some pets may prefer to hide and avoid the source of their anxiety rather than become aggressive. These pets may run under the bed or into their crates at the first sign of something that makes them anxious.

Inappropriate Urinating or Defecating

Pets who are very anxious for a longer stretch of time may urinate or defecate inappropriately in the home. Rule out any medical causes before deciding this symptom is associated with anxiety, as it may also be related to an underlying medical problem.

Panting and Breathing Heavily

During an anxiety event, pets may begin panting and breathing heavily. They may look around nervously from side to side while doing this, and they may additionally drool excessively as a result of all the panting. These signs may also indicate physical pain in pets, however, so, again, rule out physical problems before assuming anxiety is the cause.


Pacing is very common in anxious pets. Pets may pace back and forth along the same route, or they may take different routes through the home and be unable to settle down when they’re very anxious. Once again, however, this behavior can also indicate physical pain, which should be ruled out before assuming anxiety.


Pets who are frightened and anxious during a specific situation may become destructive. They may shred furniture, chew up clothing items, or destroy their favorite toy or bedding. Destruction is frequently associated with fear, anxiety, and a lack of structure in a pet’s life.

Treatment and Management of Situational Anxiety

Training and Conditioning

Many pets with mild to moderate cases of situational anxiety respond well to training and conditioning. You can teach your pet a command that they learn very well, and then have her perform that command when she’s frightened. This familiarity, coupled with reconditioning her to expect a treat at the same time, can help cut down on anxiety responses.


In moderate to severe cases of situational anxiety, your pet may need to be given medication to help control her fear response. Some pets may only need anxiety medication when they are about to experience the source of their fear, while others may need it every day. Never give your pet human anxiety medication.

Our Holmdel, NJ, Vets Can Help with Your Pet’s Situational Anxiety

Situational anxiety is common in pets, and in most cases, it is fairly mild and easy to deal with on your own. However, if your pet’s situational anxiety has become moderate to severe, or if you have any trouble dealing with her anxiety issues and feel you need help, talk to your vet for more information.

Our Holmdel, NJ, vets can help you pick the best course of action for dealing with an anxious pet. Depending on the source of the anxiety, your pet may need medication or may be able to control the problem through other means. We can help you identify and stay on top of your pet’s anxiety needs moving forward.

To schedule a vet visit for your pet, give our animal hospital a call at (732) 671-3110