How Do Pets Show Signs Of Stress?

It’s not just people who suffer from stress-related illnesses. Our furry friends can be affected too. Some pets, particularly those from rescue centres, have often had a poor start in life, which may cause them to become anxious later on.

Kennels, loud noises, water or attacks by other animals or humans are just a few of the things which can cause stress in dogs and cats. Read on to find out how pets show signs of stress.

How can I spot stress in dogs?

Dogs are not shy creatures and always act unusually if they are feeling a bit stressed and off-colour. An array of symptoms can help us decipher when they are feeling fearful or stressed:

Seemingly sleepier

Dogs tend to wander off and isolate themselves when they are feeling down or stressed. They may also want to sleep much more because they are feeling sorry for themselves.

Loose stools

Both cats and dogs can have diarrhoea if they are suffering with stress. Although more commonly shown through food intolerance or disease, it can be brought on by anxiety. If the bout has lasted more than 24 hours, you should always contact your vet. Blood in the stool can be an indicator of something more serious.


Signs include fearful expressions or other submissive behaviour although they may growl and bear their teeth. The dog’s age, health and temperament should be considered when looking at these issues but you should consult a vet if the behaviour is continued.

Is your cat stressed?

Cats display various signs to let you know they are not feeling 100 per cent. When stressed, cats are more likely to hide, and howl, while their levels of play and exploring activities decrease. Here are some more signs that cats show when they are stressed:


It is natural for felines to preen themselves to get rid of bugs, food leftovers and dead hair but if this is done aggressively, it could be a sign of stress. It’s not normal for cats to develop bald patches and if these are apparent, a vet should be consulted.

Spraying urine

If a cat feels stressed or insecure, they will tend to spray urine when they go to the toilet. They do this because they think it makes their territory safer and sends a message out to other cats by leaving their scent.

How to protect your pet from stress-related illnesses

A warm bed

Pets need a safe haven they can retreat to when everything gets too much. A warm bed and fresh water are good ways to keep them happy.

Ample exercise

Stress in pets can be due to a lack of exercise. Ensure you walk your dog daily and that your cat has access to pad about outside. Both of things can help reduce stress.

Increase stimulation

Provide your pet with toys to reduce boredom and increase stimulation. Giving them toys to play with takes their mind off what is causing the stress.

Hopefully, you have learned how to spot some of the signs of stress in cats and dogs. If you are still concerned about your pet’s health or unusual behaviour, you should visit your local vet and always make sure you have pet insurance to cover your animal in the event of illness.

Courtesy: Houston Petting Zoo and Austin Petting Zoo.