Many of the animals that I work with have symptoms or behaviours stemming from fear. We’ve all experienced that feeling to varying degrees and we all know how uncomfortable it is. This emotion can be easy to spot in some animals but other animals are more stoic and you have to use keen judgment skills in order to decipher what the animal showing you.
Some animals, by their very prey nature, are naturally fearful, like rabbits and guinea pigs, but even predatory animals, like cats and dogs, display signs of fear. We don’t like to think of our pets living with that feeling.
Causes of Fear
Some causes of fear are:-
- Loud noises (e.g. fireworks);
- Other animals (of the same species or of another species);
- Humans (e.g. men or children, in particular);
- A trauma (e.g. a road traffic accident or previous abuse);
- Unfamiliar situations.
I’ve previously posted this poster of fear signs to watch out for in dogs but I’m posting it again as it’s easy to read and to understand and can help even a novice owner interpret their pet’s behaviour.
Cats also show similar signs like pulling back their ears, tail down, licking lips, yawning, moving away, moving in slow motion. Cats may also go up on their tippy toes, arch their backs or hiss and growl.
Rabbits show fear by grinding their teeth, growling, nipping, lunging, flattening their ears, over-grooming, hunching up, circling their enclosure, chewing at the enclosure bars.
Guinea pigs have similar fear signs to rabbits. They also use high-pitched squeeks when they’re nervous.
Aggression is a behaviour that is often caused by fear and may be displayed by all species of animal. For the benefit of all involved, the last thing a responsible pet owner wants is for their animal to get themselves into a fight with another animal or to nip at the hand of human.
Impact on Physical Health
Unfortunately, prolonged fear or stress can have an impact on the physical health of our pets, from minor skin issues through to eye problems and more serious conditions, like Addison’s Disease.
Natural Remedies for Fear
Fortunately, help is at hand and not only do these solutions work but they’re completely natural and free of side effects!
The use of essential oils and hydrosols can bring a great feeling of peace to a fearful animal. Inhaling or licking diluted oils (or hydrosols for cats and small animals) like sandalwood and frankincense are extremely relaxing and helps your pet to take a step back from the fearful thoughts that are running through her brain.
I offer aromatherapy consultations for all animals, during which I chose oils or hydrosols specific to your pet’s issues. I will leave the oils/hydrosols with you for you to offer to your pet on a daily basis. Over a short period of time, essential oils and hydrosols can show a great change in the fearful pet.
Massage combined with Acupressure and Tellington Touch is another method that I have used succesfully on many fearful dogs. The massage strokes work to release tight muscles, remove toxins and give a sense of general wellbeing to the dog. The addition of Tellington Touch, which adds to the effect of the massage, is of great benefit as it taps into the central nervous system in order to calm and ground the dog. Acupressure points specifically for fear- and stress-related issues used during the session further enhance the therapy for your pet.
I’ve written two blogs about using natural therapies to help with fear issues. One is about a fearful cat and one is about a fearful dog. I’ve also written a blog about kids, which are often a fear trigger for pets. Have a read!